The NFL Scouting Combine is the ultimate job interview for more than 300 of the top college players. It's an opportunity to prove yourself in front of every NFL head coach, assistant coach, general manager, scout and just about everyone else involved in NFL football operations who descend upon Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Several Steelers shared what their past Combine experience was like, what the experience was, and what they liked, or didn't like, about it.
You hear the Combine described in many ways, but Bud Dupree might have come up with a new one.
"The Combine was dreary," said Dupree. "It was long. For me it was a bad process because I had a groin injury I didn't think was going to linger, but it did. It kept me having to do MRIs. Then they wake you up for drug tests. Then you get up in the morning and have to run 40s, do jumps. It was dreary."
Dreary yes, but something Dupree and others know is one of the most valuable experiences they will ever have.
"I think the Combine is a big mental game to see how people react to things and adversity," said Dupree. "It's more mental. The only physical thing is lift weights. The other things we wake up doing. We can wake up and run the 40, or do the shuttle. It's because we love doing it. It's the want we have. The weight lifting part you have to train for and have the strength for. The same people that lift the weights can't do all the drills.
"It's a great experience to go to it and know it's the last step before you go to the NFL."
- Linebacker Arthur Moats liked the opportunity the Combine provided, especially being from a smaller school like James Madison.
"It's the biggest job interview you will ever have," said Moats. "It's what you work for. It's all about the process of your senior year. It's your chance to show the physical side of your measurements, the 40-yard dash which is the big thing, your strength, everything.
"The most important part is your interviews. You have your formal and informal interviews there. The informal ones you are in a ball room with all of the scouts. You answer any type of question, literally. The formal interviews you are in a private room with coaches and general managers and it's more intense. Those are the ones that can really help you out."
- For Markus Wheaton the Combine was all about setting goals. He finished with a mixed bag, reaching some of the goals, but falling short on others. But all-in-all, he was pleased.
"For the 40 I wanted a 4.3," said Wheaton. "They came and told me 4.3 was my hand time and the electric was a 4.4. I was upset about that. I think it was the 60-yard shuttle I was one of the top two. My broad jump wasn't where I wanted it to be, but close. I was top 10 in everything so I was happy about that."
Wheaton was no stranger to the Combine, having watched it on NFL Network in prior years. But no matter how much you watch it, when you get there and all NFL eyes are upon you, it's a whole different ball game.
"There is a lot of pressure, especially when you first get out there," recalled Wheaton. "Then, once I got set I thought I was fine, that I was relaxed. We went through the jumps first and there was nothing much with that. It's when you get to the 40-yard dash and everyone is watching you. It's pretty nerve wracking. I was so tuned in I didn't see anybody.
"It's just like football. Once you start playing you aren't thinking about anything like that. You are tuned in and doing what you have to do. As an athlete you are used to being in front of the cameras, so I didn't think much about it."