As I was flying into Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, I was soaking it all
It was sort of a reality check--not in a bad way, but in a good way. It was
like, "wow, it’s finally here, the time you’ve been training for and
the dream you’ve been dreaming about since you were a kid is finally becoming
a reality--you’re actually going to be participating in this great event."
Just a few hours earlier I was on a plane with LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell who I had been training with and Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant.
We flew down to Dallas and then I met LSU running back Charles Scott, Michigan
running back Brandon Minor and a few other guys. We sort of formed a bond as we
joked around and soaked up the moment together.
After we landed in Indianapolis and left the airport, it was cold. That was one thing I didn’t realize
about Indianapolis, but other than that, it was great. We all went into the city
together on a limousine-bus and then we had to check in. I went through the line,
signed a lot of papers, got some information and my bag of clothes to wear. Then I
went to my room.
That was when the day really got started.
I got to my room and learned that my roommate during the Combine would be Dan LeFevour, the quarterback from Central Michigan. It was the first time we had
met each other, so we spent some time getting to know each other on a personal
level--not just a football level. We had heard of each other, so we knew
where we were from and some other basic things like that, but we wanted to get
to know each other a little more.
As we unpacked our bags, I settled down and put on the clothes that we were
supposed to wear. Then we went down to a room where we provided our blood sample
for drug testing and to see if our blood is healthy. We also had an EKG done.
Honestly, I almost passed out when I saw the needle they use for taking blood.
As tough as I am when it comes to playing football, I have to admit that I’m
terrified of needles. But everything went well other than that, so it was all
good. That whole process took about two hours.
Dwyer rushed for more than 2,700 yards over the last two seasons.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
After that, I went back to my room and relaxed for a little bit until it was
time to eat. Then we headed to our orientation session. Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome talked to us, and then some
other people talked about the NFL security system--how they’re there to help
us and protect us, not just here, but in life once we get on our team.
Then we met our group leaders, who are scouts from different teams. Our group has scouts
from Minnesota, Atlanta, and the Tennessee Titans. They taught us what we needed
to do for the next day.
After that, we went to a big room and met position coaches from all of the NFL
teams. People were yanking players left and right to meet with different
coaches. They tried to get to know me as a person, to get to know a little more of
my background, test my football I.Q., and to learn more about how I read defenses.
I got to meet with the San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills position coaches and
many others. It was mainly them telling me how they felt about me, and me
letting them know how I felt about playing in the NFL, why I left after my
junior year, and things of that nature.
I found out that they liked the way I play--the physicality I bring to the
game and my overall style of running. They asked “why in the heck did they
have you in a little three-point stance?” I got that a lot. But they said that
they’re excited to see what I can do starting at seven yards back instead of just five yards
back--and I'm excited, too.
During that time I also got to meet all of the running backs who are here and
had conversations with Jahvid Best, Toby Gerhart, C.J. Spiller, and a few other
guys and to form a relationship with them. We respect each other and the fact that
we’re here at this point--and we respect each other’s game. So I just tried
to get to know them as people.
We finished up probably around midnight, so I went
back to my room and just passed out. I had gotten up really early since my flight to Indianapolis had left at 7:45 that morning.
The next morning, we woke up at 4:30 to do our urine test. Then we got a
chance to go back to sleep until the 6:00 a.m. wake-up call. We went to eat
breakfast and were told to be in the lobby by 8:15 to go do our height and
weight and our physicals.
The first thing--which I was excited about--was to go do our height and
weight. I was about 5-foot-11 and my weight was 229, so I was very happy with
that. It was the way I looked. It’s a
tighter-fit, there’s no looseness, it’s just a nice, clean-cut 229. It showed that I had lost some weight and toned my body up--and showed that I mean business. My trainers were very happy with that, and my agent was very
happy as well.
I got some lunch in-between that time and when I got my physical, blood
pressure, and let the doctors look at me. You go into all these different rooms
to be examined. They check all of your limbs to see if anything’s loose and
make you get some x-rays. Luckily, everything went well for me, so I got a
break and took advantage of it to get a little sleep. I woke up, got some dinner and started
getting ready for my first formal team interviews.
Dwyer rushed for over 100 yards 17 times.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
I had three interviews scheduled for Friday night, but I also had a short
interview with the running backs coach of the Miami Dolphins. He got to
understand who I am as a person and I got to know him.
Then I had a team interview with the St. Louis Rams, which went very well. I
already had a good relationship with their running backs coach, Sylvester Croom,
so it was good to see him again. He recruited me out of high school and I played
against him at Mississippi State.
I sat down and found that they knew a little bit about me, so we went over
some film of my games and I got to tell them how I adjust to pass protection and
pick up the blitz. Everything went very well.
Then I met with the San Diego Chargers. I got to meet Coach Turner, the general manager and the people from their front office. I had fun talking to them. We had some laughs
and had a good time. During the meeting they told me about their situation with
LaDainian [Tomlinson] having to leave and the situation they might have with
Darren Sproles due to free agency. I tried to impress them as much as possible,
so hopefully my name is at the top of their list. This is a big year for them
with their running back situation.
I went on to meet with the Denver Broncos. That was a pretty good interview
as well, but a little different--they were just straight to the point. They got
their questions in and then I was on my way.
I got some stuff from all three teams--a tee-shirt from the Rams, a tee-shirt
and a beanie from the Chargers, and some other stuff from the Broncos. After
that, I just relaxed and went to see my trainer, Lance Locker, and saw a bunch of
other guys who trained with him. As I was walking, I was talking to Ndamukong Suh, a
guy who I worked out with, and some of my old teammates--Demaryius Thomas and
Derrick Morgan. It was a homecoming type of thing and it was good to meet them
and to go out there and get some action. We talked to the trainer and got some
food, then we went over some things for the next day.
I have the bench press tomorrow and I have twelve or thirteen interviews, so
that should be interesting. I just want to go out there and do well on my bench,
show people how strong I am. So tomorrow should be a good day as well.
As told to Ed Thompson. Read more about Jonathan Dwyer in this exclusive NFL Draft Q&A feature and watch for his next installment of his Combine Diary.