(Editor's note: Being an offensive lineman might not be the most glamorous job in the world, but to an NFL team, it's vital. This April, University of Miami left tackle Bryant McKinnie is expected to be a top draft selection in the 2002 NFL Draft. Each week, McKinnie will stop by and give his thoughts on what life is like for this future NFL giant.)
The combine was nice. I got to meet with all the teams, all the general managers and all the other players. I saw OT Mike Williams again. People say he's my top competition for best offensive lineman in the draft. I've seen him before; we were both All-Americans, we've been to some award shows together.
When I got there, they gave me a shirt and a sweater with my position and a random number on it. I was No. 46. Then I went through a whole process of events - interviews, physicals, X-rays, all types of exams, bloodwork, eyework … a whole bunch. It wasn't strange, it was just a long day. I woke up at 6 a.m., took a drug test, then ate breakfast. From then on until 11:30 a.m., I was awake, walking around, doing different testing. It was a long day.
I met with a lot of teams, but nothing too strange came up. One team asked me about my encounter with boxer Shannon Briggs and wanted to know if it was true. That team was fascinated by the story. I spoke with folks from Detroit and everybody else among the top five, including the Chargers coaching staff and Marty Schottenheimer - they were all pretty cool. I liked meeting with Dallas. The Cowboys' offensive line coach, Frank Verducci, was the same man who recruited me out of junior college. I liked meeting with Minnesota's Mike Tice, he was very down-to-earth. I even sat down with Coach Davis from Cleveland, but we pretty much just talked about Miami and not really football.
There's one sour note from the combine - one of my teammates, OT Joaquin Gonzalez, wasn't invited. I was kind of disappointed by that, especially in watching people who aren't as good as he is. A lot of people asked me where he was - when I told them he wasn't invited, they were shocked. I even asked one coach how people vote on who's invited and who's not invited to the combine. He said a group of eight guys rate players and the top people at each position get to go. I thought Joaquin would be a top-10 tackle. If I were a coach, I would draft him into the NFL.
Miami's private workout is Thursday, so a bunch of us will be going through the routine again for many teams. I'm not nervous now, but I will be. I don't know the complete schedule yet, but I know Andrew Swasey, our strength and conditioning coach, will have something good for us. Every team, except Houston, told me they'd have a representative there. But we found out yesterday the Texans are coming, after all. So I don't know if they were just trying to pressure us to run at the combine or not, but they're coming. I can't wait.
Each week, McKinnie will share which teams contact before the NFL Draft.
I talked to Carolina, they called me (March 6). They told me they'd be at my workout. Cincinnati also called me and told me they're going to be there. Things are starting to get interesting.
-- As told to Dave Richard