There’s so much more to the annual NFL Combine than the 40 yard dash or L drill. For players and teams, that’s only a small snippet of the process. There’s medical testing, psychological testing, and the all-important interview, where coaches and GMs might be talking to players – especially underclassmen – for the first time.
Steelers.com had a really interesting interview with Pro/College scout Dave Petett, a longtime member of the organization who usually doesn’t get much airtime. Missi Matthews asked specifically about the interview process.
“The interview sessions are about 10 minutes each for a formal interview,” Petett told Matthews. “Each team has a room in the hotel and the player comes into the room and you have everybody from coaches, coordinators, scouting, GM, scouting directors, Mr. Rooney sits in on some of those, and just kinda go through everything. From their history with the player, get a background. If you have questions about something, you have that opportunity to ask them directly and fill-in the blanks.”
Those interviews happen behind closed doors but last year, the Philadelphia Eagles generously posted a clip of their conversation with Carson Wentz. You can see the team ask him questions about coming from the FCS level before turning on the tape and discussing a few plays.
Sometimes that interview can make the biggest impression. JuJu Smith-Schuster was drafted despite only meeting the Steelers at Indianapolis, even though he was the youngest player of his entire draft class. Smith-Schuster was as shocked as anyone when he got the 412 phone call.
“It’s like speed dating,” Smith-Schuster said of his combine meeting experience during his conference call with the media. “You get 15 minutes. Seems like less than that because of how fast it’s going. Ever since then, pro day and everything, I haven’t even spoken to them until today.”
For Petett, his role at the Combine changes year-to-year since he isn’t a dedicated college scout. This scouting staff, far from perfect, has the advantage of stability. A guy like Pettet, with the team for 15 years, knows what Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert are looking for. Much of the group, including college scouting director Phil Kreidler, has remained the same for years to create continuity in the pre-draft process.