With the NFL Combine taking place in Indianapolis this week, we asked 2016 Bears draft picks Jordan Howard, Cody Whitehair and Deiondre' Hall about attending last year's event.
How would you describe your Combine experience?
Howard: "It was pretty crazy. Going into it you don't really don't know what to expect. I had a lot of medical things to look at, so I was getting a lot of MRIs. I was at the hospital for like an hour, but they also had MRIs at the convention center. I had to get three different MRIs. I was down there for three hours one night. It was pretty draining."
Whitehair: "It was like a meat market. They parade you around. They drug-test you early in the morning. They just want to see how you respond to certain situations to see if you're going to perform at a high level under certain situations in the NFL. It's just a big test really. Nothing really caught me by surprise. But the physical examinations that the teams did and the medical stuff was a little bit more than I expected."
Bears offensive lineman Cody Whitehair was the 56th overall selection in last year's draft.
Hall: "For me it was a really good experience just to be around all those other top-class athletes and get the opportunity to compete and show that I was meant to be there and could show off my talents."
How did you prepare for the Combine?
Howard: "I prepared for down in Miami at Bommarito's [Performance Systems]. You have to wake up early at the Combine, so they had us come in by 6:30 every morning."
Whitehair: "I went to Michael Johnson Performance in Dallas and trained there. They really got me ready for it. We had interview classes at night. They worked with us on the drills. They brought somebody in to help us with the interview process and we did some Wonderlic testing prep too."
Hall: "I went to STARS Socal in Anaheim and worked with [founder and former Colts safety] Jason David. Getting prepared mentally and physically was huge in going to the Combine for me. I killed everything except the 40—that was kind of disappointing—but I ended up top five in every category [among defensive backs] besides that. So it ended up being a really big step for me to go out there. I had been going out there the previous two or three years and grinding out with Jason and some other guys. It's more of a family aspect there and for us to all test really well and make strides to make it to the next level was huge. We had a news anchor come interview us and give us tips on how to talk to people, making eye contact and things of that nature to get us prepared for that whirlwind of interviews with coaches and scouts."
What was the camaraderie like among players at your position; did everyone root for each other?
Whitehair: "It was very encouraging. At the end of the day you have a mindset that you want to perform at a high level and you're not going to let anyone get in your way. But especially being an o-line, those guys are just bred to encourage and bred to work together and come together."
Were you asked any strange questions during the team interviews?
Howard: "I didn't get any weird questions, but I had some of the coaches trying to come at me I guess trying to see if I would break or something like that. One of the teams was saying, 'We saw you had trouble with conditioning. How are you going to fix that in the NFL?' I just said that I was going to stay on the diet I was on, keep working hard and make sure I stay in shape."
Whitehair: "I never really got any weird questions. It was pretty straightforward. The thing that was hard for me was right from the get-go in my first interview they had me sit down and go over their plays with the o-line coach. That was kind of hard because you're coming from college. It's a little bit different and you're just getting thrown right in there. That was probably the toughest part of it."
What advice would you give prospects attending this year's Combine?
Howard: "I'd tell them to be ready to expect anything pretty much and just go out there and do their best and just be relaxed."
Whitehair: "Just be yourself. Don't worry about the testing or the interviews; just go out and have fun."
Hall: "Don't stress about the small stuff to much. Just have fun with it. It's a business trip, but go out and have a little fun with it and don't let the stage take away your swagger."
A look at current Bears when they worked out at the NFL Scouting Combine.