Now that the NFL Combine is over, players who didn’t quite put up the numbers they hoped for have another opportunity to impress at their school “Pro Days.” Players who solidified their draft status in Indianapolis will look to do no more than confirm what scouts, general managers and coaches already know.
In my case, after the 2011 Combine, I went back to Ohio State to train with my then trainer along with a few other players I had played with and who had competed at the Combine weeks before. The process of preparing for Pro Day is a bit different than training for the combine. When training for the combine, you prepare for drills that are in a sense mundane. They are drills that every player at your position does and they aren’t player specific. Moreover, you know that at the Combine you have tons of physicals and psychological tests and you wont get much sleep. My agent prepped me on the process before driving down to Indy.
Pro Day is different in that the focus is on more player- and position-specific drills. Before actual on-field drills start at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, players have to get measured for height and weight as well as arm length and hand size—which matters more if you are an offensive lineman and quarterback. Also, players who didn't have an opportunity to attend the NFL Combine will get a chance to perform on the bench press. I personally didn't participate in the bench press at Pro Day, being satisfied with my 28 reps at 225 pounds in Indy and not wanting to risk injury or fatigue.
Following the bench press, players are measured in the vertical jump, the broad jump and the 40-yard dash. We were given about 20 minutes to warm up before running, but I had about 35 minutes to warm up because of where I fell in line with my last name.
I can vividly remember the scout calling my name and I literally missed a breath but I knew work had to be done.
I can vividly remember the scout calling my name and I literally missed a breath but I knew work had to be done. At the combine I wasn’t too happy with running in the mid 4.5s so I know I had to cut it loose and run as fast as I could. As I approached the starting line I had it in my head that I am going to turn head after this run. After taking three deep breaths, I was off and running and it was a blur until the end of my run but I knew I had done what I had set out to do. After completing my first run one of my former teammate who was there watching came up to me and showed me his stop watch and it showed 4.50. I wasn’t impressed – only a sub 4.5 was going to do it for me.
Before I knew it it was my turn to run again. Approaching the line and gathering myself in my stance I just looked up and said to myself “Cant let this run beat me,” – boom – I was off and running again. After completing my run, I was putting my jacket on to stay warm for the drills yet to come and a scout walked up to me and showed me my time. It showed 4.47 and I remember his exact words were “That may not be what everyone else has but its what I had for you, heck of a job.” All I could do was smile and thank him.
Following everyone’s 40-yard dashes one of the scouts put Ross Homan and myself through drills that teams wanted to see in person. For instance, we mainly did open up and running type drills sideline to sideline. We were both projected to be outside linebackers in the NFL and teams wanted to see what we could do in space. The scouts also had us do pass rush drills, as well.
Doing pass rush drills gave coaches on hand the opportunity to see how our flexibility and movement on the line, a wrinkle because neither of us played much on the line at Ohio State. Another wrinkle came when I told my strength coach that I wanted to do defensive back drills after I had finished with linebacker drills. Standing 5'10" and 229 pounds at the time, I wanted the scouts, coaches and general managers to see all that I had to offer. Honestly, the defensive back drills kind of easy. Their drills were more test fast twitch movement like back peddle and break on the scouts movement and tracking deep passes.
Satisfied with my performance, I knew my opinion wasn't what mattered. Far more important was the impression I left on the scouts, GMs and coaches in attendance.
Brian Rolle was a two-year starter for Ohio State at linebacker, finishing his career in 2010 as a team captain and earning First Team All-Big Ten honors after leading the team in tackles.