NFL Combine Blog - Donald Butler

This weekend was really good for me. I got a lot of tests on Saturday, medical tests with a lot of different teams which was exhausting, but today (Sunday) I benched and got 35 reps of 225 pounds up and almost got 36. I was really happy with my performance and the other guys said before I even got up there "man, you look like you're going to be putting up a lot or reps" and I did just that...


Saturday was long. I mean, it was tough because we had to go back for more medical tests and it was grueling.

We headed to the stadium and they had like six or seven rooms set up with all of these doctors.

Basically, it started with doing another urine test so they could test for performance enhancing drugs and when I did mine they were like "we need more from you" so I had to drink like seven or eight bottles of water before I could get them enough. It was crazy.

Then I got weighed and measured. I was about four pounds heavier than the last time I weighed in but at 245 pounds I think that's a good weight for me. They also had me just a little over 6'1" which is what I was expecting.

Then it got to the hard part.

You show up there and they have your X-Rays and your injury report.

You have to sit up there and they have all of these different doctors from the different teams and they read off all of your medical history and injury history to them and they are all there with their computers taking notes and entering things.

You had to do that like 15 or 20 times. It was so repetitive and monotonous, but again, it's all part of the process. That took about three or four hours to go through that part so I was glad when it was over.

They had my knee injury from my freshman year in high school on there. They had my strained calf from when I was a freshman at Washington and then all of the scopes I had on my knee over the past few years.

They also tested my leg and all of the joints in the body -- shoulder, elbow, knee, ankle -- all that stuff, just to make sure they are stable and good to go.

I also met with some more teams -- the Indianapolis Colts, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Washington Redskins, the Oakland Raiders, the Green Bay Packers and the Jacksonville Jaguars -- and I had a formal meeting with the (San Diego) Chargers and got to meet coach Norv Turner and some of their front-office people.

Then it was back to the hotel where I just relaxed and took it easy, because Sunday was my day to show what I could do.

Today, I had a 6 a.m. wake-up call and they after breakfast I had an eye test and then did more range-of-motion stuff with our bodies. I was doing squats and push-ups just to show them how flexible I was and my joints were.

Then I had the Wonderlic Test and I felt I did pretty well. I mean, you can skip the questions you don't know and it doesn't hurt you so I think I should do pretty well on that. They allow you 12 minutes for that.

Then we had an hour-long meeting with the NFLPA and their spokesperson was Ernie Conwell who I didn't realize was from the University of Washington. After he was done talking, Daniel (Te'o-Nesheim) and I went up and talked to him for a little while and it was great getting to know him a better.

He said he saw me at the Senior Bowl and that he had wanted to come up and talk with me, but he was busy and they had us moving all the time so he didn't get a chance to talk to me.

He said he's going to head up to Washington to check out the program and see things for himself. We told him things are a lot different now and there are some really great things going on up there.

After that, I went back to the hotel and slept for a few hours while some of the other players had to take some personality tests and stuff like that. It was good because I got to do all of that at the Senior Bowl, so I didn't need to do it and that allowed me to get some rest before I benched.

To give people and idea of what goes on in the weight-room, basically, you have a bench and everyone stands around watching it. You have a spotter there standing over you and before that all goes down, you are standing there with guys who play the same position as you and you start sizing each other up and a couple of guys said to me "man, you look like you're going to be putting up a lot of reps" and I was like "I'll do at least 32".

Then when I got there and it was my turn, I hit 32 and did three more for a total of 35. I was pretty happy with it. I mean, I think I could have done 36 and I was right there at the top of the lift to do it, but I couldn't lock it out so I only got 35. That number though was the best of the linebackers, so I was really excited about that.

When you're there sizing each other up, I mean, I was the biggest guy at the linebacker spot so I figured I would be at or near the top of things, but to beat everyone was satisfying.

Then I just relaxed for a little while after I met with my agent, Eugene Parker, where we talked about a few things.

Tonight I'm going to get some rest and then I plan to leave for Tampa after all of the linebackers finish up their workout tomorrow.

It's going to be hard not getting out there and competing, but I came in with a plan on how I wanted to go through the process and I'm going to stick with it.

After the workout, I'll head back to keep working out in Tampa and then I'll fly up to Seattle for my Pro Day on March 10th. That is when I really need to show what I can do for the scouts.

Until then, I'll just keep doing my thing and making sure I'm ready to get it done.


Friday was a long day for all of us. I got up early and flew out from Tampa around 10 am and got to Indianapolis around 12 pm. I arrived with a big group of guys, about 25 or so, and we all got checked in and got the shuttle to our hotel. Then it was on to the hospital for all of our physicals, over three hours of tests and people examining you...

They did this thing called a Cybex Test that tests your leg strength. It was interesting because you did three regular reps, then three explosive reps to test the strength in your quads and on your hamstrings. They had us doing the different positions to isolate the different areas of your legs.

They also drew our blood, gave us an EKG, X-Rays and they took a urine sample.

After that was all done, we headed back to our hotel where we had dinner and I got to catch up with Daniel (Te'o-Nesheim) as well as a bunch of the guys I got to know pretty well at the Senior Bowl.

There was Sean (Weatherspoon) from Missouri, A.J. Edds from Iowa, Justin (Cole) from San Jose State and Daryl (Washington) from TCU. It was really good to catch up with them and see what they have been up to and how things are going with them.

After dinner, we headed into position meetings. Actually, there was a big meeting with all of the guys there and they had a 10-year veteran come in and talk to us about the NFL and what to expect once we get to the league. I don't remember his name unfortunately, but it was cool to get a players' view on things.

Then we split up into position meetings and I was in there with about 30 other linebackers.

That's when we broke off into our formal and informal meetings with the different NFL teams.

I met with a bunch of them, Seattle, St. Louis, San Francisco, the (Baltimore) Ravens, the (New England) Patriots, the (Carolina) Panthers and San Diego too. Those are the ones I remember off the top of my head.

Basically, there are two types of meetings.

First you have a formal meeting where there is the V.P. of Football Operations, the General Manager, the head of the scouting department and the head coach and some other "Big Whigs" are there.

It's really hard because you're sitting there in a chair in front of all of these people and they are just asking you questions and then questioning your answers. They ask things like "you said you are like this, but on the film, you did this, why is that?". I mean, they really pick you apart and really grill you and it's really tough to go through, but it's all part of the process and I know it's all about getting to that next step.

One thing that was cool was each team had a suite where you were just with them and that was really nice. You get 15 minutes with each one of them and they were blowing off horns after every 15 minutes which was kinda strange, but it let you know "hey, your time is up" and then you moved on to the next meeting.

After those formal meetings you go to a big room where all of the linebacker coaches from the different teams are there and you get to sit down and talk with each one of them.

Those meetings are more informal and just about them getting to know you and you getting to know them since they will be the coaches you spend the most time with, especially early on.

Right now it's 11:30 pm here and I have to get up early, I think our wake-up call is at five tomorrow morning so I'm going to get right to bed.

It's been a long day, but it was a fun day and something I've been looking forward to my whole life.


After I got out of school, the first thing I had to do was find an agent. So that whole process started, and it was going back to the people that had contacted me, and then going back to the coaches to see if they had anyone in particular they thought I should get in contact with that could potentially be good representatives for me.

We started with six, and then cut it down to three, and then decided on who it was going to be. It's Eugene Parker with Maximum Sports Management. They are based out of Fort Wayne, Ind. They are really the best in the nation. They have 20-plus years of experience representing the best. I'm talking about Hall-of-Famers, from Emmitt (Smith) to Deion (Sanders) to just some really great guys. They just got Michael Crabtree. (Ndamukong) Suh from Nebraska, we just got him. Trent Williams from Oklahoma…I mean just some really top-tier guys. In the end you can't argue with numbers, and over the years they've been getting guys the money that they deserve.

The coaches had a couple of guys that they were familiar with that some of their players had worked with in the past. Never once did they ever try to push anything on me. It was usually, 'If it works out, it works out - but if not, that's fine as well'.

Then I had to figure out where I was going to train at. I had a couple of different people inquire about possibly training for them. There was a place in New Jersey and a place in Minnesota. Then I also had a couple of southern California places. And obviously Eugene and his guys had their place, which is in Tampa, Florida. So again, it was another process of looking at and going through the numbers - because in the end, it's all about the numbers, how you do at the combine. So I ended up going with what my agent said was best, which was down here in Tampa. It's called Athletes Compound. Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State), Trent Williams (Oklahoma), Keenan Clayton (Oklahoma), DeMarcus Granger (Oklahoma), Darrell Stuckey out of Kansas, Mike Neal out of Purdue, Alex Carrington out of Arkansas State - we've got a really good group of guys down here that really get after it on a daily basis.

Oh, and Joe McKnight (USC) is down here as well. He's the only other west coast guy down here, and all these other guys - all they know of the west coast is USC. They know of coach Sark and the new coaches that came in, and me and Joe have talked about the USC/U-Dub game. They've seen U-Dub games and I've seen their games. They know that we were just two or three games away from being an 8-4 team. They know. You ask about their program and the differences and then compare.

But one of the things I really never got a chance to do was get on that bigger stage. I know we played some top-tier opponents, but after that junior year and you don't win any games, it's hard to get your name out there regardless of how well you do that next year. So the Senior Bowl really was just a stepping stone. I wanted to go there and really showcase my skills on that bigger stage, and I think I was able to do that.

The difference between that first practice, that Monday practice - when you got all your jitters out of the way and you really got acclimated with the defense that you were going to be running - to that Tuesday practice, where I was really able to dominate…I went from being another guy on Monday to, 'Who is that guy?' on Tuesday. I won all my one-on-one drills; I was making plays in the backfield, had tackles for losses. I was all over the field that day. I think that turned a lot of heads. I got a lot of good feedback from scouts and coaches, and now I'm just really looking forward to that next step.

Right now, Tuesdays and Thursdays are lighter days. We just do stuff on the field where we run - like 5, 10, 5 (20-yard shuttle) and the 3-cone drill. Monday, Wednesday, Friday we get up and eat and then we have weightlifting. Chest workout, upper body, lower body, whichever. Then we get a break where we go eat lunch and have a couple hour break. Then we get on the field and do some more running. In-between the running we go in and do video analysis, because they video-tape all the drills that you do. And then there's the massages as well.

It's not one specific thing I'm working on; I want to hammer the whole combine itself. It's so tedious. They get you up at 5, 6 o'clock in the morning and they have you going until 10:30, 11 o'clock at night. And then you have to get right back up at 5 or 6. So it's not just about physically preparing you, it's also mentally preparing you. We do both here. They bring in Dr. Herb Martin, who has been excellent working with us, getting us ready for the Wonderlic and going over some interview tips. But then again on the physical side, Jason Riley - who is the head trainer here - gets us right as well.

I'm working on my 40 start. I feel like I have good top-end speed, but it's really all about getting it going out of the blocks - those first couple of steps. Then obviously your 5-10-5 and your 3-cone…I'd never really tested 3-cone before. So I've been getting the technique of that down. Once you get the technique down, you can really excel.

We had a couple of Huskies at the Senior Bowl - older guys who had played before me - and they helped me out there talking to them. It bugs me sometimes because I'm not the best with names, but I can't remember who they were. Daniel (Te'o-Nesheim) I think is at API in LA, but I expect to see him on Friday. The linebackers, we don't do anything until Monday, so we should be getting to Indianapolis around the same time.

The only thing I'm doing at the combine is the bench press and the interviews. I'll get all the medical stuff taken care of too, but I'll do everything else at the U-Dub Pro Day (March 10). At the combine, you have all the teams represented, but guys sometimes just don't test well because of the rigors of travel and the schedule they put you under. And they have you go through a lot of drills beforehand and then they have you run your 40. And once you run that 40, that's the time they have down for you as. That's how fast you are, regardless if you run it again, because they'll tell you 'well, that's what you ran at the combine'. So I'm waiting to make sure I can get it down, get my technique right, and run that good time.

I'll be there to watch all the on-the-field drills and everything; I just won't participate. And it'll be hard, because I'm a natural competitor at heart. Obviously I want to go out there and showcase my skills, but I need to wait and be patient. My time will come. Top Stories