Winston Journal: "The Combine"

Eric Winston, an offensive lineman from the University of Miami, discusses his experience from the NFL Scouting Combine last week.


"THE COMBINE"

This past weekend I participated in the National Football League Combine workouts at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. It was an exhausting four days of medical exams, psychological exams, and more medical exams.

Of course, the culmination of the four days was a day of physical workouts that at the end of the day make or break you.

DAY 1

The trip couldn't have started of any worse. My flight out of Miami was at 6:15 a.m. so my agent had a car ready to pick me up at 4:15 a.m.

Needless to say, that was an early wake up. I arrived at the airport and found out that they don't even open the counter until 5:15 a.m. Since I am 15 minutes away from the airport, I got to stand for 30 minutes realizing I could have gotten more sleep instead of waiting in line.

After I finally got on the plane we were taxiing to the runway when the captain came on and said we had to return to the gate because the plane was not fixed from the night before. There was some fluid that needed to be put in the plane that never was.

After waiting for two hours for the mechanic and watching two other Delta flights take off for Atlanta (that is where my connection was), we finally got on our way. Of course we missed our connection in Atlanta, and waited around on stand-by for another flight but of course missed those as well.

It seems like the airline industry as a whole is run poorly. I can't remember a trip I have gone on in the last year in which one of the legs didn't have a delay in it. They wonder why they can't make money but if you talk to anyone who travels regularly, they will tell you it's a hassle and is not efficient.

Sorry about that, I will get back to the combine.

After my agent got me on with another airline to get me to Indy because I would not have gotten there until 9 p.m. on Delta, I finally arrived around 5 p.m.

They hustled us to the hotel, where I changed and then quickly was whisked off to the hospital for preliminary x-rays of my back, knees, and ankles.

DAY 2

The second day wake up call was at 5:30 a.m.. It started off with a urine test, which is very uncomfortable when you are naked and a guy standing two feet away from you staring at you to make sure you do not cheat.

After that we had a quick breakfast and went for our official height and weight measurement.

During this they measured our wingspan and hand span as well as body fat. The body fat machine is called the Bod-Pod. You get in your boxers and put on a stocking cap over your hair and go into this tiny machine that kind of made me feel like an astronaut from the 1960's.

My height was 6-foot-6 1/2, 310 pounds. My one arm span was 32 1/2 inches and my hand was 9 1/2 inches from thumb to pinkie.

During all this, I felt like I was part of a herd of cattle. You do all of this in mesh shorts only and you weigh in front of at least 300 scouts. They yell out your height and weight and if it is impressive you hear some oohs and aahs.

From there, we moved to the RCA Dome where hours of medical tests were held. There were six rooms of orthopedic doctors representing all the NFL teams, a general health room and an eye testing room.

Due to my past injury, I knew this wasn't going to be fun or even pleasant. The good news was that my knee checked out great. The doctors told me many times they were surprised how strong it felt. After hearing that over the course of many hours I finally made it through all eight rooms.

Upon completion, they told me I had to meet back there in two hours to go back to the hospital to take a new MRI of the knee and get some x-rays around my pelvis for some reason. By the time I got back not only was I glowing in the dark but I was late getting down into the meeting room where the offensive line coaches from all the teams gather to get a chance to get some info on you.

That night I also had four scheduled interviews with a few of the team's management.

After an endless day, I finally went back to my room around 11 p.m.

DAY 3

For the third day, we got to sleep in and woke up at 7:15 a.m. The day started with breakfast followed by hours of psychological tests. They were the same as the ones from the Senior Bowl.

The only interesting one I took was one called Brain Power. It was a memory and reasoning test. I think I did pretty well on it. After that I actually got a break for a couple hours before I had 12 interviews that night.

All in all the team interviews went great. They were only 15 minutes long but I think they got a feel for who I am and that was important to me.

After the interviews were over I went straight to bed because I knew the last day was the big day.

DAY 4

I woke up with a lot of confidence that I was going to run great. They woke us up at 7 a.m. and fed us breakfast and went over to the dome around 8:10 a.m.

We waited in a room for another 30 minutes or while the other group finished doing their forties (40-yard dash times) and position drills.

We were brought out for some warm ups and measurements on stretching ability. After that it was time to start. Like I said I was confident because of my great training coach and my abilities not only to run, but to compete. At the end of the day that is what this whole thing is about - competition - who is better than whom.

The first thing was the 40-yard dash and I ran a 4.94. That was the second best overall time out of lineman and tops among those over 300 pounds. I knew I had this time in me since my practice times were around that time.

After the 40, then came the position drills. They had us do some very tiring drills that I not only participated in but they also asked me to demonstrate every drill.

Since I was the last person in line due to alphabetical order, after every drill I demonstrated the next. That lasted around 90 minutes and many of the guys were tired.

Next came the standing broad jump and the vertical jump. I reached 9 feet in the standing broad jump and 29 inches in the vertical. The vertical was the only drill I didn't feel I did as well as I could. I usually get 31 or 32 but after the drills, I wasn't surprised. The final drills were two shuttles. The 5-10-5 and the 3-cone drill or also known as "L" drill. I ran a 4.44 in the 5-10-5 and a 7.47 in the 3-cone drill. Both of those times were very good and I was very pleased.

At the end of the day it was a complete success. All my times were at the top of the lists and the scouts said I looked great in the drills.

They hustled us out of there but it was time for my plane so I had to get going anyway. I got my things together and headed home.

RECAP

The feedback has been great and everyone says that I have locked myself into the first round somewhere. It will all come down to which team likes me enough to take me.

We have our pro day hear in Miami on Saturday in which scouts will come down to see all the guys that are draft eligible workout again.

I will do the bench press and redo the vertical jump, along with the positional drills for any O-line coach that comes down. I look forward to it and will talk to everyone again soon.


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