INDIANAPOLIS -- A familiar face was spotted in the media room here at the NFL combine, as we had the chance to catch up with former New England Patriots quarterback Kevin O'Connell, now a college football analyst for ESPN.
O’Connell was taken in the third round of the 2008 draft by the Patriots, and had other NFL stops that included time with the Jets, Chargers, Lions and Dolphins.
The former San Diego State star shed some light on his personal experience at the combine and what stood out from his perspective.
“No matter how much people prepare you for, nothing can get you ready for the first three days,” he said. “The mental, medical, all the things -- the meetings up until 11 p.m., then you’re up the next morning for your weigh-in when you’re in front of the whole league for everybody to see. ... By the time you get to the workout on Sunday, you’re fired up for it.”
The transition into a media career has been a successful one for O’Connell, who said he’s truly enjoying his new line of work.
“It’s been a blast because I absolutely love this game more than anything,” he said. “And the ability to stay around it, I’m doing some coaching stuff here and there, doing some -- calling games -- doing some things.
“I just love every aspect of the game and being able to, at the college level, at the pro level, be able to break it down in a way like I’m in a quarterback meeting room and we’re getting ready for an opponent,” he continued. “That’s kind of how I go about it.”
His approach to his work also includes sharing some insight and terminology that he learned from his former head coach, Bill Belichick.
“Absolutely, 100 percent,” he said. “Things like situational football and terms he would use as far as -- I use it with the quarterbacks that I’m helping right now. Things that he used to instill in me as a young player and basically said ‘the track to being a successful player is this and this will help.’ It doesn’t guarantee anything, but I use a ton of that stuff.”
O’Connell is working with Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel leading up to the draft, a player many believe could wind up with the Houston Texans with the first overall pick in the draft.
Asked what he would do if he were in the Texans’ position, O’Connell said he'd take Manziel, but made the case for a trio of quarterbacks.
“I’m a little biased just because I’m working with Johnny Manziel out in California, but I really, really like [Central Florida quarterback] Blake Bortles too," he said. "I think [Louisville quarterback] Teddy Bridgewater -- I think those three guys, Johnny Manziel, obviously Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles, I think those guys have every right to feel like they should all be the number one pick in the draft.”