2004 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: DeMarco McNeil

Having proved what he can do on the field, DeMarco McNeil believes the intense scrutiny in the coming weeks will focus on how he performs as a person. As important as numbers and stats are to scouts, personality goes a long way as he learned from San Diego Chargers Coach Marty Schottenheimer. The interview segments at the combines were extended this year, personal workouts focus on a player's character, and after four years of ball, it could be what gets a player picked in the 2004 NFL Draft.

"I just go out there and do what I have to do," DeMarco McNeil said. "I can't worry too much about trying to impress folks. Its ‘hay in the barn' so to speak. They know what kind of football player I am and I have to show up and show what kind of person I am.

"I just conduct the interviews and answer the questions they ask. I try not to get in depth with it."

His first appreciation of life in the NFL came after playing for the Marty Schottenheimer led South squad at the Senior Bowl. It was there that he learned a few lessons that extend beyond the football field.

"Coach Schottenheimer gave us a lot of tips, not only on the football field but off the football field as well on how the NFL is going to be. They did a great job preparing us and getting us ready for the next level. I enjoyed my time with the staff."

On the week, McNeil graded himself out at a "B-". He hurt his ankle, keeping him out of the actual game.

"I felt like I was just getting into a groove and it was unfortunate that I twisted my ankle and wasn't able to play in the game, but it is ok now."

With the combines over, McNeil will have more questions to answer. Scouts will want to see how that minor ankle injury healed, how he took care of himself in the process, and how it responds on the field.

With injuries a major part of life in the NFL, how a player bounces back from the injury bug has become an important trait.

McNeil doesn't know what teams are eyeing him at this point. He is focused solely on his performance. Coming into the combines at his ideal weight of 306, McNeil focused the last few weeks on the various drills he would run in Indianapolis.

Unfortunately for McNeil, his injury forced him to sit the drills portion of the combines out. So he looked at his Pro Day on March 15th as the stepping stone.

One of Auburn's most productive players in recent years, McNeil said he enjoyed the Pro Day experience. "It went pretty good for the most part," McNeil said. "There were some good times and some not so good times. It was up and down, just like a football game."

McNeil, who weighed in at 307 pounds at 6-1 4/10ths, ran a 5.3 40, which was not unexpected considering his history of knee trouble and rehabbed ankle. He had the second highest total of reps in the bench press with 21.

"Overall, I did pretty good," McNeil said. "I did pretty much what I was capable of doing." One thing he does not have to work very hard on is his anticipation of the snap and his preparation. Known for his first step, McNeil is cognizant of his strengths and how to utilize it to the best of his ability.

"My quickness and my knowledge of the game," McNeil points to as his strengths. "I like to study film and I know what is going on out there on the field."

Being the first defensive lineman to earn the distinction of "Mr. Football" in the state of Alabama, McNeil has been making plays on the field since his freshman year for the Auburn Tigers.

As a four year starter, McNeil compiled 106 tackles, 34 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks, 16 passes defended and five forced fumbles. His numbers on the field speak for themselves. Now he is making plays off the field.

McNeil has already displayed the character traits NFL teams look for when assessing players for the upcoming draft. He is intelligent, hard working, and coachable. Traits that will ensure he is picked on the first day of the draft in April.

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