(Editor's note: Ever hear of Kyle Johnson? Perhaps you have, perhaps you haven't. Contrary to what you may believe, not every NFL prospect is a big-name superstar; Johnson is a draft prospect who hopes to be part of an NFL team. Check out what Johnson, a fullback from Syracuse, is all about as he prepares for the Draft.)
It has been more than a week to the day since I returned from the combine in Indianapolis. I left Thursday morning and spent two-and-a-half looonnnngggg days there.
My roommate at Syracuse, Quentin Harris [a free safety], arrived on Saturday. When they said that Indianapolis is like a football factory, in an obscure sense they mean just that. Guys are constantly coming in and going out.
The first day was pre-medical -- a three-hour escapade full of X-rays and blood work that set us up for the true medical test the following day. Day 2 was the real medical testing, where every team gets a chance to pull, poke and prod your body in search of any imperfections.
The funny part is that we're football players, and if you've played this game long enough, you've hurt something. I dislocated my ankle, this other guy tore his ACL, this other guy dislocated his shoulder, and the list goes on and on. If you've ever had a headache, they make you go get a CAT scan. They want to know if anything is wrong with you at all. This medical process takes a player anywhere from six to seven hours of "hurrying up to wait." If you get an MRI, CT scan or some other type of specific imaging, add two hours to the process.
The third day at the combine was filled with all the famous drills we've all heard so much about -- these tests of physical abilities. This area of the combine is regarded as the most significant. I don't necessarily believe it is, but regardless, this is the area that players concentrate on most, and it's definitely the most intense part of the combine. We ran the 40-yard dash, did the vertical jump, ran 20-yard shuttles, broad jumped, and performed numerous other tests.
Quentin got there on Saturday just as I was leaving. As fate would have it, they checked him into my room while I was still in there, but I didn't get a chance to see him. They ran him off to his orientation meeting just as I was leaving, so I grabbed my bag and hopped a shuttle to the airport. I didn't see him until I picked him up from the airport Tuesday morning.
The rough truth of the combine is this: For five days, they have guys flying in and out. The coaches' and teams' main objective is to stir up the pot and scoop the cream up first. Some say they want to sift players like wheat. The good part is that this is the final stage of a process that truly began four years ago for many of us -- or in my case six years ago, due to a medical redshirt.
Five Syracuse players went to the combine, and I probably sound just like guys from other teams when I say that I believe more players from my team should have been invited. But I know that the selection committee has to be very critical, and I'm just happy that I'm one of the guys on the list.