When people think of a job interview, they imagine a small room, answering questions in a suit, hoping for the keys to a major new career step. For a handful of former University of Miami student-athletes, the path to impressing organizations at the next level starts with the NFL Combine.
Eight former UM football players will participate in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week, hoping to make positive impressions on professional teams with the goal of making it to the NFL.
Running back DeeJay Dallas, wide receivers Jeff Thomas and K.J. Osborn, defensive linemen Jonathan Garvin and Trevon Hill, cornerback Trajan Bandy, and linebackers Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinkney were all invited to participate in the event, which is scheduled from this Thursday until Sunday.
The combine consists of a series of physical drills that range from the 40-yard dash to the bench press. It also includes a mental aptitude assessment by way of considering IQ and Wonderlic Test scores to ensure that a potential draft pick’s mental skills are up to par with their football skills.
Each of the eight Miami players is under consideration by NFL front offices for different reasons. Some of them are known for their pure speed, others for their physicality, football IQ, versatility or route-running ability.
Four of the former Hurricanes, Dallas, Bandy, Thomas and Garvin, all gave up their senior seasons in South Florida for this opportunity, while the other four will carry their diplomas into the world of professional football.
What do the experts say on Miami’s players? ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper is highest on Hill.
“Trevon Hill has [an] upside, the transfer from Virginia Tech, because of the pass rush everybody wants,” Kiper said to SB Nation on a conference call last week. “He has flashed that, but I thought he’d be a little more consistent with that, more productive with that this year. But, I think he’s the one because of what everybody wants and everybody needs, he may be the guy who comes off the board.”
Kiper was also sold on Quarterman at the next level.
“Think about Shaq Quarterman and his production,” Kiper said. “But again, it’s not 1985, ‘95. Those types of linebackers now, you’ve got to be an all-around player. I think Quarterman is more of a mid-round guy.”
Not unlike a season ago, it is expected that a majority of the former ‘Canes will be picked disproportionally in the later rounds. Hill and Quarterman, two of the more lauded future pros in this draft class, are widely projected to go in the mid-rounds, most likely around round four or five.
Both defensive players returned for a fourth season of college football after many expected them to declare for the draft a year early, with Hill coming to the ‘Canes as a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech.
The remaining six players will be picked in the later of the seven rounds in the draft, which is in Las Vegas this year.
A season ago, five Miami players were selected in the NFL draft. Sheldrick Redwine was selected first by the Cleveland Browns during the fourth round. Michael Jackson, Joe Jackson, Jaquan Johnson and Travis Homer followed suit, with star defensive tackle Gerald Willis surprisingly not getting drafted and having to sign with the Baltimore Ravens as a free agent.
No matter when, or even if any of, the eight players here are selected in the 2020 draft, each will likely get the opportunity of a lifetime to earn some level of professional football contract.
The NFL Combine will be broadcast live on ESPN from Feb. 27 to March 1.