More than 300 draft eligible players took part in the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine and we heard from a good amount of them. There were great quotes given by the prospects and impressive attitudes being displayed throughout.
Granted, sound bites don’t equate to enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but it can make a media member’s life much easier.
On the flight home from Indy, I thought about all the great press conferences that took place and the players who offered the best insight into their personalities.
The best talkers don’t necessarily make the best players. Those 40-yard dash times have a little bit to do with it. But there’s something to be said for a player who commands the attention of a room full of writers.
So without further delay, let’s take a look at my All-Personality team, or what I’m dubbing “TP’s A-P Team.”
Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
The quarterback who can throw a baseball in the mid 90s, can toss a football 59 miles per hour (fastest of any combine QB) and makes it seem effortless. His press conference also stood out for his positive disposition. Clearly, Kaepernick enjoyed the experience. He tweets often and is a guy to root for.
Mark Ingram, Alabama
The former Heisman Trophy winner doesn’t compare himself to any other runner, even if some people say he’s the next Frank Gore. “I just try to take characteristics from all their styles and develop my own kind of character as a runner, my own mystique as a runner.”
Owen Marecic, Stanford
One of Jim Harbaugh’s former players is not only a great player, but a great person. He cut off his signature long hair to donate it to cancer patients. “I feel three years younger,” he joked. “It’s great.”
A.J. Green, Georgia
There’s no doubt in Green’s mind he’s the best receiver available in the draft, 23 touchdowns in three seasons gives him that right. “I’m not going to settle for being an average receiver,” he said. “I take that to the heart to be one of the best.”
Julio Jones, Alabama
What the Alabama wideout did in his workouts should help him tremendously (4.39 in the 40), but his presser was quite solid too. “I have a defensive mentality,” Jones said. “I’m not scared to hit. I’m a physical guy. I look for that. I like to hit defensive players because they’re not used to getting hit.”
D.J. Williams, Arkansas
The Mackey Award-winning tight end went through a lot of hardships as a youngster, but persevered to be one of the top prospects at his position. His attitude and quotes speak volumes of who he is as a person. “My background was pretty much like sandpaper. It was really rough. But after that sandpaper wore out, my family came out smooth.”
Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
Admittedly, I was very impressed with the facial hair of the BC product last month at the Senior Bowl. Sounds funny, but the fu-man-chu he sported showed some personality. He trimmed it for the combine, but still had some great quotes from the podium. “I had zero scholarship offers out of high school. I was a 6-7, 220-pound drink of water.”
Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
Arrogance can turn some people off, but Carimi showed just enough belief in his own ability for people to appreciate his confident demeanor. He’s on record as believing he’s the best tackle available and has the mindset of backing it up from day one. “I have a better résumé of going against better talent than anyone else, so that makes me more (pro) ready.”
John Moffitt, Wisconsin
Carimi’s teammate is much looser than he is and doesn’t mind people thinking he’s a funny guy, just as long as they know he’s intent on being a great football player. “Every now and then I say something and you guys think it’s hilarious,” Moffitt told the media. “It gets written and it elaborates more that… I might be a funny guy, but I don’t think I’m that funny. I think you guys pump me up more than I am.”
Danny Watkins, Baylor
As the NHL trade deadline approaches, the 26-year-old Canadian will surely be focused on it. “Growing up I was a true Canadian hockey kid,” he explained. “There was a TV show growing up called, ‘Hockey Night in Canada,’ – I loved it. That’s what you did growing up.”
Mike Pouncey, Florida
When you have a twin brother in the NFL, you’ll surely be recognized. That’s what happened frequently to Pouncey at Super Bowl 45. Still, he had fun with Steelers fans clamoring for him to line up for his injured brother. “I told them I would play if I knew the plays, but I didn’t want to go out there and embarrass myself.”
Cameron Jordan, California
Look up Jordan’s college headshot for proof of his personality. Then listen to him at the podium and understand why he’s one of the best talkers in the draft. “If you see my film, I’m hitting people. I’m laying people out. There’s sort of a switch. I still got the smile on, but it’s all for a different motive. It will be the biggest smile on me to hit a quarterback and hear the wind come out of his chest. That pleases me the most.”
J.J. Watt, Wisconsin
Another tweeter and the third Badger on the list, Watt walked on to the Wisconsin team as a freshman and is now considered a top prospect. Not bad. There’s a lot to like about that.
Stephen Paea, Oregon State
When you break the combine bench press record with 49 reps, you’ve definitely done well for yourself. When you liken football as a safer way to play rugby, you’ve really set yourself apart. Paea said his body is safer in the game of football. He injured himself at the Senior Bowl which forced him to sit out all but one combine drill, but still, the Oregon State product represented himself very well with his lifts and his words.
Nick Fairley, Auburn
Sometimes writers ask questions to get certain responses. Some take the bait and then there’s Fairley, a player who can get up the field with quickness and shoot down loaded questions in a similar fashion. Asked if the Panthers should select him or teammate Cam Newton first overall, Fairley didn’t hesitate with his response: “Is that a trick question? I think that was a trick question.”
Nick Bellore, Central Michigan
Bellore never played with Joe Staley, nor has he watched “The Joe Show” on TV49. However, that’s soon to change. The inside ‘backer said he plans on watching Joe monkey around just as soon as he gets home from Indy. Staley told me the Chippewah prospect is a good kid, and that he appreciated the new viewer.
Mason Foster, Washington
The All-Personality team is a hybrid, so we’ll have two inside ‘backers with Bellore and the Foster, the blogging Pac-10 prospect. We in the media love players who will help out in various online projects and Foster helped NationalFootballPost.com by adding first-person updates from Indy. “This is the job interview of a lifetime,” Foster wrote. “There’s no way I’m going to let anyone outwork me or show up in to Indy in better shape.”
Sam Acho, Texas
Maybe the most striking thing about Acho was his smile. It rarely left his face when speaking to the media. He clearly embraced the moment. As for potentially changing positions in the NFL from defensive end to outside linebacker, Acho’s response was very likable. “I look forward to the challenge. I’m a competitor. I wouldn’t even call it a challenge. I’d call it an opportunity.”
Von Miller, Texas A&M
I wrote about Miller’s striking personality after interviewing him in Mobile. He came off great in Indy as well. Miller doesn’t read his own press, even if there’s a lot of it circling these days. “I haven’t even noticed it. I’ve just been taking it day by day, one day at a time. That’s for all the fans and stuff, that’s for my mom and them.”
Rahim Moore, UCLA
“The team drafting me won’t have to worry about the safety position for 10-12 years,” said the UCLA safety regarded by many as the top prospect at his position. In the context of how it was said, Moore looked like it wasn’t a fabricated statement by any means. I’m sure he’s said that to teams as well. Either way, the confidence was well received.
Ahmad Black, Florida
Undersized in some people’s minds, Black makes up for it in play-making ability. He’s huge when it comes to that. His response to size questions, “I got game film, man.” Well-played Mr. Black, well-played.
Patrick Peterson, LSU
Standing at the podium, Peterson looked bigger than Eric Berry, the top safety drafted last year. He’s a cornerback though, and a confident one at that. How many TDs did he give up last year? “One. Julio Jones,” he said. Chances are, those two will meet again on Sundays.
Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
Self-promotion? Not for the Prince. He’s not checking mock drafts either. “I’m not someone who Googles themselves.” Amukamara is too busy getting ready for the draft. However, his deadpan humor is already Pro Bowl-caliber.
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