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GM Phil Emery talks NFL Combine

Posted Feb 19, 2014

Before heading to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Bears general manager Phil Emery shared his thoughts about the annual event with ChicagoBears.com.

General manager Phil Emery will lead a contingent of about 50 Bears staffers down Interstate 65 to Indianapolis Wednesday for the NFL Scouting Combine.
 
About 330 of the nation's top draft-eligible college players will be poked, prodded, timed, weighed and interviewed at the annual event, which runs through next Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Bears first-round draft pick Kyle Long participates in a drill at last year's NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
"The Combine's another piece of the puzzle in terms of putting the complete picture together of the player," Emery told ChicagoBears.com.

The Bears will be well-represented at the seven-day gathering, with Emery being joined by second-year coach Marc Trestman; assistant coaches; staffers from the college scouting, pro personnel and video departments; and doctors, trainers and strength coaches.

After arriving at the Combine, NFL prospects who suffered injuries in college will be sent to a nearby hospital for an X-ray, and some who've had surgery will be asked to take an MRI exam.

"A very important piece in the process is the medical aspect," Emery said. "That can't be overstated or undervalued."

The players will also participate in position drills and be timed in the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill and shuttle run; tested in the vertical jump and broad jump; and asked to bench-press 225 pounds as many times as they can.

"Seeing players perform under pressure and under the glare of all the sets of eyes from the league and all the sets of eyes on television tells us a little something about how the players prepare and how they attack the task of getting ready for the Combine," Emery said. "It's very much like attacking the task of getting ready for a game. So it does tell us a lot there."

Emery values the measurables, but the Bears general manager knows that there's more to evaluating football players than what they do in shorts and a t-shirt.

"You get a better idea of what the upper level of their athleticism is," Emery said. "So that's very helpful. Some players do play faster on tape than they do [running] in a straight line. That's taken into account. And if a player runs much faster than he plays on tape, you may just have an athlete that can test really well but doesn't translate well. So that gives you needed information."

Throughout the week, each NFL team will conduct 15-minute interviews with 60 prospects they had to choose in advance. Like their counterparts, the Bears interview players in a hotel suite.

While players are typically "coached up" by advisors about how to answer questions and discuss past transgressions, Emery still finds value in the process.

"No matter how hard they prepare, it still gives you a picture of who the person is," he said. "We get a good snapshot of who that person is. What it helps us do moving forward is determine, 'What are the things that we need to dig deeper into? What do we need to find out more about?'

"People say you get canned responses. I think it really depends on how many interviews they've had that day. Sometimes they're a little bit savvy based on what they've been asked by other teams. And sometimes they're a little beat up mentally and they're more vulnerable when they get to you because they've already had to answer the questions five or six times and they're emotionally tired, so you might get a little bit different response."

With a limited amount of time, the Bears try to gather as much information as possible.

"Sometimes if there's an area that we need to investigate and needs to be out in the open right away we'll hit them right then, right there, as soon as they walk in the door," Emery said. "It's, 'Hi, how are you,' and then we get into a particular area. Sometimes it's a real general conversation to get to know a little bit more about them."

The NFL prospects also take the Wonderlic test, an exam of problem-solving ability that measures intelligence. Participants have 12 minutes to answer 50 questions. One of the questions might ask: "A train travels 20 feet in 1/5 second. At this same speed, how many feet will it travel in three seconds?"

On Thursday, Emery and Trestman are both scheduled to speak with the media. ChicagoBears.com will provide complete coverage of those sessions as well as the rest of the news from the Combine.

Roster addition: The Bears on Wednesday signed cornerback Derricus Purdy, who went undrafted last year. As a senior at Texas Southern in 2012, the 6-foot, 190-pounder recorded 34 tackles and one interception.

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