My Combine Experience: Seahawks Players Discuss What It’s Like To Participate In The NFL Scouting Combine

With the NFL Scouting Combine taking place in Indianapolis this week, college football's best draft-eligible players will be tested, examined, interviewed, measured and weighed, all while under the microscope of NFL teams who are preparing for April’s draft.

While very valuable for the players involved, the combine can also be a pretty grueling week for participants who are often sleep deprived and under a lot of stress for one of the most significant job interviews of their lives. With that in mind, we caught up with a few current Seahawks players to hear about their experiences in Indianapolis, and to find out what advice they might give to players going through the combine ringer this week.

WR Tyler Lockett, third-round pick, 2015 draft

What do you remember most about the combine?

“The fact that we had a drug test at 4 o’clock in the morning, and the fact that I had to go meet with a lot of teams. There were like eight or nine people in the room, and they sat there and asked you every question you can think of. It’s more of a mental week than a physical week. They try to mentally drain you to where when you go out there and perform during the combine, you’re not going to be at your best, but they want to see who can overcome and conquer the mental things we had to deal with through the week.”

What was your favorite part of the combine?

“My favorite part of the week was when it was over. They drain you, you only get four or five hours of sleep, if that, and they put you in situations where you’re really not comfortable, and you’ve got to figure out how to be comfortable in the uncomfortable.”

What advice would you give to players heading to the combine this week?

“I’d just tell him to remember what it is that you’re going there for. It doesn’t matter if you’re seen as a first-rounder, second-rounder, or even as an undrafted free agent, you’re just trying to put yourself in the best situation. This is the beginning of an interview process, one that lasts as long as you play in the NFL. You have to make sure you put yourself in a good position each and every day to show them that you belong in the NFL.”

When it came to medical exams, Lockett had a particularly memorable combine experience, and not in a good way. While going through routine medical checks, doctors discovered that his aorta was on the right side instead of the left, where it normally would be. The condition turned out to be a non-issue, but that wasn’t clear right away, and for half a day or so, Lockett hung out in his hotel room wondering if his NFL career was over before it ever had a chance to get going.

“That was the worst thing,” he said. “They tried to scare me and told me some stuff they should have never told me. Then once I found out more about it, it wasn’t as bad as what they thought, but that was probably the worst scare I could have had—you’re going to tell me everything I put in to get to this place, you’re going to tell me I can’t play anymore? Nah…It was dreadful at first. At first I cried."

Lockett said he talked to a friend during that time who told him, “God didn’t bring you this far to be like, ‘almost.’… I just trusted that and was like, whatever happens is fine with me.”

Lockett said it was “probably 13, 14 hours,” until he got the all-clear, during which time he was unable to participate in the bench press.

“They told me about it, then I had to go get a CAT scan, then I went to the hotel room,” he said.

TE Nick Vannett, third-round pick, 2016 draft

What do you remember most about the combine?

“All in all, it was a great experience. You’re walking around, you’re running into GMs and head coaches you grew up watching on TV. You’re seeing these faces that you’re used to seeing on TV, but now you’re having conversations with these guys. It was a cool experience.

“At the same time, it was pretty grueling. We’re waking up at 4 o’clock in the morning taking drug tests, we’re spending the whole day at the hospital doing medical testing and all these things. I remember saying to myself at the very end of it when I checked out of the hotel, ‘Man, thank God this is over with.’ It’s long, it’s hard, but at the same time, it’s a cool experience to be able to go through that experience, to be able to talk with teams, to be able to prove yourself to teams that you could be a good player for them.

“Obviously you’re not sure what to expect going into it—I tried to ask guys from Ohio State who went through it in years past just to get an idea, and they just said, ‘Dude, it was the worst thing ever.’ They didn’t really get into the specifics about it. So I just kind of prepared for the worst, didn’t know what was going to happen… I remember the second day when we had to do medicals, we’re spending the whole day at the hospital, waiting hours to take a 30-minute MRI. We’re just sitting in the waiting rooms like, ‘Jeez, did we come here to sit around, or did we come here to get on the field and do workouts?’ I didn’t realize what all went into the combine, all the work and all the studying and analyzing teams do into our bodies. It was pretty crazy.”

What was your favorite part?

“Leaving the hotel heading to the airport, just being done. But no, it was cool having the formal interviews with the teams, being able to talk to head coaches, have them in a way kind of interrogate you and ask questions to get to know you. To be able to show them who I am, what kind of player I am, I really enjoyed that… I had the chance to talk to John Elway and Dan Marino, guys you grew up watching who are Hall of Famers, and here you are in the same room as them. So that was cool doing that. Then the workouts were cool, because really you came here to prove yourself and show what kind of player you are on the field, so being able to do the running and the routes and the catching and all those drills, those were my favorite parts."

What advice would you give to a player heading to the combine this week?

“Just show them who you are. Be honest, be yourself. That’s what teams are looking for. When you get in these interviews, don’t be nervous, don’t feel like you have to put on this front to be the guy you think they want. They want to find out who you are, what kind of player you are and what kind of person you are. Teams are going to appreciate honesty, they want to be able to trust you. And just go into it with a mindset of having fun with it, don’t look at it like, ‘Oh (shoot), here we go again.’ If you go into it with that attitude, it’s going to be long and grueling. I tried to go in with the attitude that I was going to have fun with it, try to be as nice as I could to everyone I meet, and as long as you do that, you’ll be confident and you’ll be prepared.”

CB Tre Flowers, fifth-round pick, 2018 draft

“I actually had a lot of people warn me about the combine, so I was kind of prepared for it. It would have been bad if people hadn’t of told me about it, because I thought it would be so different than what it was. I’m glad I was prepared.”

What surprised you most about the combine experience?

“The drug test, it was like 4 in the morning. That was the most surprising part of the combine—how—how much time the whole combine takes. You’re never just in your room resting, you’re always doing something.”

What was the best part?

“Just meeting people who have played in the NFL, I met guys I had heard about a lot, so that was cool.”

What advice would you give to a player heading to the combine this week?

“I’d tell them that it’s a business trip. You’re not going there to relax—you will not have time to relax. You will be doing stuff all the time, just go in there with that mindset and you’ll be fine.”

Flowers, a safety at Oklahoma state, was drafted by Seattle with the intention being for him to move to corner, and that move worked out well for him and the Seahawks, with Flowers winning the starting job at right cornerback as a rookie. So did any teams besides the Seahawks bring up the idea of playing corner while at the combine?

“The Seahawks talked about it, I think the Falcons talked about it,” he said. “They just said, if I run fast, I could maybe be a corner.”

Flowers ended up running a 4.45-second 40-yard dash at the combine, very good speed for a cornerback of his size.

“I was always confident in my speed,” he said. “I really wanted a lower time than that.”

Take a look back at some of the best Seahawks fashion from the 2018 season.

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