Graham Bensinger will interview a high-profile prospect each week until the NFL draft April 28. This week, he checks in with Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn. Also, check out Quinn's own blog for Xbox.com, where he gives his thoughts on football and gaming each week.
Graham Bensinger: How has the reality of the NFL draft process compared with your expectations?
Brady Quinn: It's weird because once you're finished with your bowl game, you have a lot of decisions to make. You have to figure out where to train, who your agent is going to be, and a lot of things like that. After that, you have a little bit of time to get healthy and prepare for either the combine or Senior Bowl. It's a training stage.
Once that finishes up, you just move through a process of workouts. It's your combine, then pro day, and all these different things that are setup. Then, teams want to get to know you. It's more of a mental issue where you're learning their system, going through plays, going through your offense and watching film. Coming into the draft, I didn't have any expectations or previous thoughts about it. I just figured you'd be going in and talking to people and teams a lot.
Bensinger: How was the combine experience?
Quinn: It's such a unique experience in itself. Those four days are devoted to presenting yourself, what you are as a player and who you are as a person. You're being tested mentally and psychologically. They want to see where you're at.
Bensinger: How did you fare?
Quinn: I faired pretty well. I didn't do a whole lot at the combine, but I think my interviews went very well. I benched pretty well, especially for a quarterback. I took care of what I went there to do.
Bensinger: How about pro days?
Quinn: My pro days went very well. I had two. The first one I just threw. I thought everyone was very pleased. The second one I worked out. It was a pretty good workout. This is where they had all of the running drills. The thing about that is you only get a couple shots at each. You hope for a career-best time in one of those two shots. When you don't pull that off, you get a little disappointed. It was a pretty good day for me all around, but I didn't career-best in any of the events like I wanted.
Bensinger: What teams have you met with so far?
Quinn: The Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Browns. I've also got meetings scheduled with the Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions. Then, the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming in next week to South Bend to do workouts.
Bensinger: How'd the meetings go?
Quinn: They went very well. The toughest thing about the meetings is actually getting there. I was supposed to go from South Bend to Chicago, but that flight got canceled, so they booked me on a different airline. So I was then supposed to go from South Bend to Atlanta, but that flight got canceled. This time they booked me on a Northwest flight to Detroit. When I got into Detroit, I literally had 10 minutes to make it to my connecting flight going to the Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C. I just sprinted from Terminal A to Terminal C in Detroit. I don't know if you've been there before ...
Bensinger: It's a big airport…
Quinn: Yeah! There's like a walking escalator. It was too packed where if I was running through I'd be bumping into people. I pretty much just ran alongside it. It was a long ways from one terminal to the next. I got there in time.
Getting to Cleveland wasn't too bad. The flights were delayed, but the weather was bad so we weren't even sure if we were going to be able to get in.
Bensinger: When running through the airport, did you have any people giving you strange looks like they were wondering if that is Brady Quinn?
Quinn: (laughs) I actually had a couple people yell out. A couple people saw me and as I was running by said, "Good luck!" The funniest thing was just getting on the plane. You sit down and you're breathing a little bit [heavy] ... People ask how you're doing and I was like, "A little out of breath, but doing well!" (laughs)
Bensinger: So what did the meetings entail?
Quinn: For the most part, each team would have me sit down with the owner and general manager. Then, you meet with the head coach individually. You tell them about yourself and talk a little X's and O's. Then, it's the quarterback coach and the offensive coordinator for each team. We'd watch film for an hour and a half or two hours. We'd break down film and talk about our games, what we try to do, what we'd like to do -- that sort of thing. Then, they'd talk about their system for a little bit.
Bensinger: How big of a Browns fan were you growing up?
Quinn: I was a big fan. It's always fun going back and looking at yourself wearing that little Riddell small uniform that they'd throw on you for different pictures or Halloween. I grew up in the Columbus area and I'm an Ohio native, so of course I'm going to root for the Browns. I think it would be cool to play for the Browns from that aspect, but you really can't say that's why you want to play for a team. I want to play for whatever team wants me the most.
Bensinger: What, if anything, has Charlie Weis told you about [Browns coach] Romeo Crennel?
Quinn: Obviously, that they're good friends outside of football. It wasn't just an on-the-field relationship they had when they were in New England. From comments coach Crennel has made to me, I know their wives are good friends. Coach Weis told me coach Crennel is a very good and smart coach. I think he likes Romeo a lot and would like to see me there. But again, my whole goal coming into this is to be No. 1. Hopefully that will be the case, whether it be Oakland or a team that trades up.
Bensinger: What was it like playing for coach Weis?
Quinn: It was something that I was so excited about, seeing what he had done with Tom Brady. He's a great coach. He's a very tough, brash, upfront, honest individual. He's going to tell you what he thinks in maybe some language that you're not used to. You've got to be prepared for that. More than anything else, it helps you become mentally tough and understand the game as seen from the NFL point of view. That's probably the best thing that helped me out. It's understanding an NFL offense. It's having a guy who came from the highest level of the NFL as far as success, coming down to explain an offense to you and coaching you how an NFL coach would.
Bensinger: Was that the main reason you said you're the most prepared player entering the NFL draft?
Quinn: That had a lot to do with it. Not only that, but there are a lot of things. Physically, I'm in great shape. You can see that from the combine, my workout, and then when you talk to anyone where I trained at Notre Dame or API [Athletes' Performance Institute in Tempe, Ariz.]. I'm prepared, ready, and have all the tools both physically and mentally. I've dealt with the media and been able to handle them on a daily basis. I've been in the national spotlight for the past four years playing at Notre Dame. In a lot of ways, I'm prepared for that spot.
Bensinger: Coach Weis told SIRIUS Satellite Radio that the team that gets you is going to get a combination of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. What do you think of that?
Quinn: Well, it's very flattering. Any time you're mentioned in the same sentence as those two quarterbacks obviously you should be extremely flattered. It's a very nice compliment. I'm not necessarily like Tom Brady or like Peyton Manning, but I think I'm something in between as far as how I direct the field, my intelligence, arm strength and accuracy. I hope one day I'll be up there with the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, but right now I'm just trying to work hard and come in and do a good job for whatever team takes me.
Bensinger: What aspect of your game are you most proud of?
Quinn: My leadership ability when I'm on the field. When there's that minute or two left in the game, I have the ability to have people believe we're going to drive down the field and make it happen. I've had a number of victories in my career where we came back from pretty big deficits. That's something not a lot of people have. Some quarterbacks throw in the towel and others don't know how to react in that situation, but we've been through it on the national stage a lot of times and I'm very accustomed to that.
Bensinger: Besides being able to guide your team down the field to victory and having the confidence of your teammates, what other attributes go into being a good leader?
Quinn: My biggest thing is leading by example. I try to be a very hard worker in the weight room, on the field, in practice, watching film and in class. I try and do all of the things that will make me well prepared to play quarterback, regardless of the opponent. When people see that, you gain respect from your peers. That allows your teammates to trust you at crunch time.
Bensinger: What area of your game do you have the most area for improvement?
Quinn: Right now I feel I have a pretty solid game. I don't think there's anything in particular that I need to work on. I feel extremely confident in my ability.
Bensinger: What do you say to those who've expressed concerns over your ability to win big games?
Quinn: People who say that don't know exactly what they're talking about. Every game we play at Notre Dame is a big game. Last season, the first six teams we played were undefeated when we played them. We're in the national spotlight each week.
This year, we didn't beat a couple teams that were very good. I think in order to beat those teams we needed to play at a higher level -- it's not as if we were favored in those games. We had some tough games. We were at USC and we were playing LSU in the Sugar Bowl down in New Orleans, which was pretty much a home game for them. Those were some tough games and we knew as a team that we needed to play better. Those are team losses, not individual losses.
Bensinger: To what extent do you feel people unfairly give you a bad rap concerning that ability?
Quinn: (laughs) To a pretty good extent. There are times when you're playing big games every week. What about the Michigan game last year? What about the Michigan game the year before that? Or playing against Tennessee that year, winning games we aren't supposed to win. It's funny looking back at my career when people say things like that. Apparently, they were just reading two or three games from this past season and then trying to say that's the thing we need to pick out the most. You can't just judge a book by its cover; you have to read the whole entire book. That's my response to them.
Bensinger: What are you most looking forward to between now and draft day?
Quinn: I'm most looking forward to working out with the Dolphins and Buccaneers. I like working out. I like going on visits, having people test you, and watching film on the board.
I'm missing spring ball right now. I'm so accustomed to having football in the spring that it's tough now not having that.
More than anything else, I'll just be excited about my family, friends, my girlfriend, and everyone being out with me in New York City. They're all going to come out. They're all excited about figuring out where we're going to be going and who they are going to be rooting on for, hopefully, the next 10-15 years.
Graham Bensinger is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. Visit his Web site at: TheGBShow.com. You can e-mail him at email@example.com