INDIANAPOLIS -- Players at the scouting combine know they’ll face the toughest questions on the toughest topics teams can find. So many come here well-prepped, with scripted replies at the ready.
That puts the onus back on the teams.
In the chess game, many of them try to get at an issue from a side avenue that can circumvent the script.
Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said his franchise actually uses some big resources to do so.
“Some guys just don’t interview well, some guys do,” Smith said. “Some guys are well-prepared, well-rehearsed with what they are going to say. In the interview situation you’ve got to know how to ask the question and how to interpret the response.
“We’ve done a lot of work with professionals working on how to interview best, the tactics involved. There are ways you can conduct business where you will get basically what you want and you’ll see how they respond to certain things you want them to address. There is a lot of value to doing that.
“But you’ve got to weigh it, you can’t read too much into meeting a player for 12 minutes and saying, ‘This is what he is.’ I think more times than not when you do that, you’re going to make mistakes.”
“Hopefully when they come in, regardless of how well they interview, we’ll get the authentic person before they walk out our door.”
Who the professionals the Jaguars use to help them with interview plans remains a secret. The info is clearly a valued element of this process for Smith and his staff. He said they get significant bang for their buck from the investment.
I always wondered just how much of a real impression teams can get out of the 60 15-minute interviews they are allowed here. But Malcolm Gladwell’s look at thin-slicing in the book “Blink,“ convinced me that people can get quite a bit out of a first impression, and that it’s usually accurate.
Jim Washburn, the former Titans defensive line coach now with the Eagles, once told me he only remembered one time where his initial impression from a meeting proved inaccurate.
And, of course, the Titans drafted Rien Long. Washburn changed his mind on Long, from dislike to like, in time.
Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz was funny when asked about interview techniques.
“Yeah, we water board a guy, we get some of these [big] lights that we use,” he said. “… If somebody wants to, in 15 minutes, they can probably stay away, they can just keep throwing jabs and stay away. A lot of people probably stay three minutes in the ring with the bear, they didn’t do it by going at the bear. They did it by getting on their bike and running away.
“I think when it’s all said and done, it’s just a piece. You have some other interaction with them. When it’s all said and done, I don’t know that you’re going on that instantaneous thing.”