Everybody wants to know about one person in the Michigan football program. And it’s not one of the 14 players at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
Several players from Michigan who have gone through the mental and physical testing this week in Indianapolis has encountered the same question:
“So, what’s Jim Harbaugh like?”
“They asked if I like him, and of course I do,” wide receiver Amara Darboh told reporters Saturday.
Did NFL personnel expect a different answer out of Darboh?
“I don’t know what they were expecting,” Darboh said, laughing. “But I answered the question honestly.”
It’s an easy question to ask, given that Harbaugh is one of football’s bigger curiosities. Yet it’s one question that’s part of an otherwise thorough, often probing and sometimes even unusual part of the combine: the interview.
It’s one of the tools that NFL teams utilize in the draft process — not just a way to get to know prospects, but to find out what makes them tick.
In years past, some of the questions posed to combine participants have raised eyebrows, especially when some of those questions are made public: questions about a player’s driving habits, his drinking preferences and even his creativity with office supplies.
“Some of those (questions) are part of the psychological tests as far as the questions coaches (ask),” Michigan offensive lineman Ben Braden said. “It’s just basic football questions. Just getting to know us and how you are a person and everything, but nothing too crazy.”
A quick survey of some of the questions Michigan’s players were asked during the course of the first four days of the combine included:
Wormley said Bucs asked him to "define certain words". Ooooookkkkkk
— angelique (@chengelis) March 4, 2017
Their use of — or absence from — social media
Jehu Chesson today at combine was asked what's wrong with him for not having Twitter. His response: “I think that’s what’s right with me.”
— angelique (@chengelis) March 4, 2017
And, yes, more questions about Harbaugh
Ben Braden also got the questions about Harbaugh, pointed out how much his energy helps
— Mark Snyder (@Mark__Snyder) March 2, 2017
De'Veon said among interview questions here –asked him about Harbaugh, his style and if he likes playing for him
— angelique (@chengelis) March 2, 2017
“Every interview is different in its own sense, but it’s been pretty much the same,” Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers said. “They’re just trying to figure you out and it’s just go in there and be yourself, ya know? Don’t lie.”
Some questions are constructive, while others seem a little off-the-cuff. But Michigan’s players see a value in getting asked certain questions, whether they relate to football or relate to a favorite food or beverage.
“I think going to the interviews (and) getting to know coaches, how they are as people and being personable with them, it’s important,” Braden said. “Coming into this, just being yourself, just letting them know who you are as a person and who you are as a player. They’ll ask you ‘How do you learn the playbook?’ Just kind of be honest about that, so they can kind of see that. And if you have questions, ask them — maybe just try to get to know them.”
And while some interview questions can seem to come from out of left field, NFL personnel insist that the interview doesn’t make or break a prospect.
“You’re not going to pick somebody based on what he tells you in a 10-minute interview,” Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Wednesday. “It’s an opportunity to communicate, interact, and from that you gather information.
“This is just part of the process.”
Michigan running back De’Veon Smith actually found the interview process to be fun — and saw the deeper motive behind each session.
“You get a feel for the team and coaches get a feel for you,” Smith said. “And, hopefully, you rub coaches the right way and he might like you! So, all you’ve got to do is get one team to like you. Hopefully I get that this week. Hopefully I can do that. You’ve got to catch one team’s eye.”
Smith, who said he talked to all 32 teams, disclosed some advice that Harbaugh — a former NFL quarterback who also coached the San Francisco 49ers for four seasons — gave Michigan’s combine attendees.
“He tells us this is going to be one of the most important job interviews of your life and all he did (during four-hour practices) was preparing us for it,” Smith said. “He’d say ‘I know this sucks (right now), but it’s going to help you in the long run.’ ”
Land of 10’s Sean Keeler and Scott Dochterman contributed to this report.