Michael Bennett doesn't want you to watch his workout at the 2009 NFL Combine.
"Don't watch it," the Seahawks defensive end recently told NFL Network. "I ran slow."
According to his NFL Combine profile, Bennett clocked in at 5.13 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a time that didn't exactly crack the top of his position group.
"It was just one of those moments where there was a lot of stuff going on, and if you don't understand the magnitude it can set you back," Bennett recalled. "But I loved the opportunity to compete against the greatest players. I think that's what makes the Combine super unique."
Bennett, of course, was picked up by the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent that year and went on to play four seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before returning in 2013 to Seattle, where he has been one of the League's most disruptive and dominant pass rushers, earning Pro Bowl honors the past two seasons.
Ahead of this year's workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium, NFL Media asked a series of players what they remember about their NFL Combine experience. On top of Bennett, cornerback Richard Sherman was polled, while former Seahawks receiver Nate Burleson, a graduate from Seattle's O'Dea High School, shared a detailed account of his Combine and offered advice to 2017's participants.
The three NFL Combine experience videos featuring Bennett, Sherman, and Burleson are embedded for you on this page.
Sherman: "I was [No.] 44 at the 2011 Combine. I just remember there was a lot of 4.2s in the 40-yard dash and I was not one of them. I was not even in the discussion for the 4.2s."
Burleson: "It's a meat market, it really is. You go and you see the finest prime cuts of filets you've ever seen — and for the vegetarians it's the best tofu, I don't know what you eat, the best veggie burgers that you guys have ever seen — all in one room. You do the mental assessment, you do the medical evaluation, you do the physical test.
"The mental part of it is walking into a room where it's one team and you see the big board and it's the Atlanta Falcons. And I remember walking in there to Atlanta and they're saying, 'Hey, what's going on, Nate?' And I'm trying to be humble, I'm trying to be confident, I'm trying to show them that I'm hungry, but I don't want to be cocky, but I want to be confident. So you're playing this mind game with yourself of trying to show them enough, but not too much. They ask you, 'Hey, get up on that board. I want you to show me Cover-4. Show me what a Cover-3 is.' Go up there and draw it up. 'Show me a post-corner.' You show them a post-corner. 'What happens if there's a blitz off the right?' OK, I've got a conversion route. 'OK show me a Cover-6.' … You're trying to keep up with these coaches, and oftentimes they're trying to give more than you can actually compute in your head to see how you handle the pressure.
"Then you get to the medical evaluation, and the medical part is tricky because they know — they know when you've been injured, they know when your teeth came out when you're in elementary, they know when you sprained your ankle at recess playing kickball with the older boys — they know everything about you. And I remember specifically I went in to show them my shoulder that I separated. … I remember the medical staff saying, 'Hey Joe' — from different teams — 'Hey Bobby, hey Chris come check this out!' Now I'm the freakshow sitting there with my shoulder popping out during the medical evaluation. They're saying, 'Does it hurt? Does it hurt? We've never seen anything like this.' I'm thinking, 'Is this going to hurt my draft? What's going on? Do they think I'm broken?' And I'm like you know what? 'Forget it, Nate. You've got testing to do.' And that's where it gets fun.
"You get excited to run that 40, jump that vertical, the broad jump, the cone drills, and for a receiver that's everything. If you can run routes, show them you've got the versatility to go outside, inside, and then catch the ball, they say, 'You know what? We want that guy.'
"A lot of guys put pressure on themselves. Me? I thought I'm blessed. I'm with the best of the best. At the very least I'm going to have a chance to play in the League, something that anybody would give their right hand for. So I went out there and I performed as well as I can. But on the other guys' faces, you've seen stress. You've seen the agony. You've seen them take on the responsibility of lifting their families up out of debts or poverty, and they're going out there to try to perform as well as they can not for themselves, not to go buy a new watch or a new car or a new house, [but] because they can buy their mom a house, they can provide something for their father, even some of these guys that have kids.
"So for me, it's all these different aspects of guys getting ready to have this one moment which is the biggest test of their life. Then you finish up and it's that moment where you breathe and you relax and naturally — for all these young guys that are watching — you want to chill, you want to unplug, you want to detach. No, no, no, no. Listen. You're just getting started. The one time you get a chance to relax is when you crash through that rookie wall, and that's not until 2018 in February. So right now, you focus. You put your head down and you work. You put them blinders on, you don't worry about the meat market, you don't worry about the other athletes and what they're doing, you don't worry about the coaches. Prepare like you've never prepared before mentally, physically. Go out there, do what you do. If there's something you do well, you do that to the best of your ability. If there's weaknesses, improve on those. This is the most important week of your life. For right now this is the first week of the rest of your life. I hope you're ready."
Photos of Seahawks general manager John Schneider meeting with the media on Wednesday, March 1 at the 2017 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana.