Skip to main content
Website header - Chicago
Advertising

ChicagoBears.com | The Official Website of the Chicago Bears

thumbnail

Combine interviews one piece of evaluation puzzle for Bears
Story by Larry Mayer



INDIANAPOLIS – Darts or putt-putt golf?

That's the first question the Bears ask prospects in their interviews at the NFL Combine, but far from the last.

For the second straight year, a dartboard and putting green have been installed in the Bears suite at Lucas Oil Stadium. In an effort to put the NFL hopefuls at ease, every interview begins with some friendly competition.

Inside the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine
Inside the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine
Inside the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine
Inside the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine

"It's a little bit for competitive energy, but the biggest thing is understanding that it's a very intimidating process," general manager Ryan Poles told ChicagoBears.com. "I mean, how many interviews in the world do you walk into a small room like that and not know what's coming? It's not your normal interview process. So really it's just to let the guys relax and show their personalities and get to know them a little bit better."

Inside the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine
Inside the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine
Inside the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine
Inside the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine

Last year the diversion worked just as Poles had anticipated.

"There were a couple guys that with some humor took it serious in terms of the competition part of it, either really didn't like losing or they weren't willing to stop until they won," Poles said. "But again, it's just really cool to see their personalities come out in activities like that."

Inside the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine
Inside the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine
Inside the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine
Inside the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine

At the Combine, NFL teams are permitted to conduct 18-minute interviews with 45 prospects of their choosing. In 2020, the NFL decreased the number of prospects teams could meet with from 60 to 45 while increasing the allotted time from 15 to 18 minutes.

The players the Bears interview generally fall into three categories: 1) Those who've impressed them on the field, to make sure that what they've seen on tape and heard about them matches their personality; 2) Underclassmen, because they haven't spent as much time with them and need more information about their backgrounds; and 3) Those who need to explain situations they've been involved with on or off the field.

Bears assistant general manager Ian Cunningham, coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles in the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine.
Bears assistant general manager Ian Cunningham, coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles in the Bears interview suite at the 2024 NFL Combine.

The information the Bears glean from their Combine interviews is just one piece of a complex evaluation puzzle.

"You have to be careful, and I've seen this over my career," Poles said. "You don't want to over-value small snapshots, but you do get to get a feel for someone's personality in the meeting that you have at the Combine, yet you don't want to weight that 20 minutes bigger than what it really is. I've seen guys come back [to Halas Hall] for a 30 visit and be a little bit more calm, poised, and show their personality in a different way because this setting's not for everyone. We're aware of that. But just understanding who you're bringing in the building as a person is a huge part of it."

2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium
2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium
2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium
2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium

Personality is just one element. The Bears also are interested in determining how well the prospects comprehend and retain information—similar to taking what they've learned in a classroom out onto the practice field.

"In there you can see his personality a little bit, see how he interacts with coaches and with the other people in the room," said coach Matt Eberflus, who sits in on all Combine interviews. "But really we're looking to see how he learns. We'll teach him something. We'll show him his tape and he'll explain it to us, what he sees on tape so you can really start to glean what his football intelligence is. And then his recall at the end. He'll come back and teach us what we taught him in the beginning."

Asked to recall a prospect who really excelled in that area, Eberflus mentioned Bears 2022 second-round pick Kyler Gordon.

"He has the ability to chunk large amounts of information and give it back to you with the techniques and fundamentals taught to him," Eberflus said, "and he's able to demonstrate those techniques as well. He was really good."

back to top
Advertising
Advertising