By now we all know who performed well in the 40 yard dash, bench press, vertical jump and other workout tests at the combine. What many do not know is who performed well in the interviews. Here, according to NFL front office men, were the standouts.
Jonthan Banks, Mississippi State CB—He impressed NFL teams as a “good kid” who will has solid football character and will be a fine teammate.
Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina G—He was praised for his intelligence and maturity. One scout said he is the type of player who can make a locker room a better place.
D.J. Fluker, Alabama OT—“He has a big personality,” one personnel director said. “You could tell football is really important to him.” A general manager liked the way Fluker communicated his passion for the game.
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson WR—Scouts liked how business-like he was, and praised him for his intelligence and verbal skills.
Margus Hunt, Southern Methodist DE—His maturity and love of the game made him stand out to NFL decision makers. He also showed a solid commitment.
Datone Jones, UCLA DE—Scouts already liked the way he plays. Now they like the way he thinks, too. One front office man said Jones looks like “the complete package.” He said he knew his stuff, and liked the way he expressed his dedication.
Barkevious Mingo, LSU DE—He is beginning to look like the total package. He was praised for his smarts, his communication skills and his genuineness. Said one front office man. “He’s a squared away guy. There is no B.S. to him.”
Geno Smith, West Virginia QB—Multiple front office men said they were impressed with how Smith did on the board and diagnosing tape, but they also said his answers appeared scripted. “He was coached up pretty well,” one said. Another praised Smith for being confident in the way he talked ball, and for the way he understood concepts. Some had doubted Smith’s understanding of the game previously, so this was huge for him.
Darius Slay, Mississippi State CB—He came across as a stand-up young man who is mature beyond his years. One executive said he admired Slay’s accountability and the way he appears willing to do whatever is necessary to succeed.
Manti Te’o, Notre Dame LB—He obviously had a lot to gain or a lot to lose, and Te’o acquitted himself well. NFL front office men praised him for being sincere, upbeat and well spoken. They liked what he had to say about football.
Bjoern Werner, Florida State DE—According to one G.M., Werner communicated very well considering English is his second language. His love of the game was clear. Werner told teams the story about when he was in Germany, he did internet research and found a high school where he could attend as a foreign exchange student so he could play football.
Dan Pompei covers pro football for the Chicago Tribune at chicagotribune.com.