Bengals rookie linebacker Malik Jefferson had a pretty good scouting combine. He ran a 4.52 second 40-yard dash, bench pressed 225 pounds 27 time and jumped very well.
Still, Jefferson was no a fan of the combine at all.
“I learned a lot about this process,” Jefferson told Will Brinson of CBS Sports. “I don’t agree with how they do it. Because you go through these extreme months of training and you go to the combine, the combine is absolute hell, nobody wants to be there after Day 2 because you get no sleep. You don’t get to exercise, they expect you to be able to workout like a superhuman on the last day. And they ask you awful questions.
“I didn’t get a weird question. I heard some people got some really weird questions. There were some coaches coming at me for my ego, and I was like ‘I don’t know you sir, I’m trying to be respectful, we’re trying to have a nice conversation.’ I don’t think it’s right for them to pull us in the rooms -- I feel like critiquing the film is fine, but trying to make you feel under pressure is not something kids should be able to do.”
To be fair to Jefferson, Brinson brought up the weird questions topic after he was talking about the unreasonable expectations.
It is unusual to see a guy who performed well be so critical of the combine. Of course, he has a point with some of the things he says. The intense training for that day is harsh, and a lot of times you are training for specific drills. Players aren’t training for football. They are training to shave off that half of a second from their 40-yard dash.
There is always that understanding that just because a guy is great at the NFL combine doesn’t mean he will be a great player. You often here draft analysts say if a guys surprises them at the combine that they may go back and check their tape again, but ultimately they will rely on their college film to give the final grade.
Jefferson also talks about how teams will press you on stuff. For him, it was his ego. Honestly, it is a reasonable tactic that coaches an front office members will use. Some coaches want to see which guys can take the pressure without blowing up, or they just want to see how they react to pressure in general.
If a guy gets upset and starts arguing with you over something you press him about, then you can imagine that is how they will react later on. Players are a huge investment of time and money, and considering how little time teams get with players, they want to find any reason to draft you or not.
Jefferson clearly took his questions personally, but he should realize that as someone getting interviewed you don’t get to call the shots. It is unfortunate, but not every interview you have is going to be a good one.
In any case, Jefferson ended up with the Bengals after all of that, and he doesn’t have to go through that hell again for the rest of his career.