Thursday, February 19, 2004
Updated: June 7, 9:49 PM ET
10 Burning Questions for Clarett
By Randy Mueller
Most of us have gone through a job interview or two. Most of us still don't have a clue about the intense scrutiny and enormous pressure future NFL players will face this week in Indianapolis. Some 300 prospects will be subjected to unprecedented poking and prodding by NFL team scouting staffs, coaches, doctors and trainers who are there to evaluate this year's college draft class.
For Maurice Clarett it's start down the road toward becoming a professional athlete and a chance to make a positive first impression on 32 potential employers. It's his chance to set the record straight. His chance to show ample humility, confidence, honesty and to ease the minds of those men who must chose whether to invest in this asset. By Monday when the NFL Combine is over, the feeling teams have about the troubled Ohio State running back will go a long way in determining when and where he will be drafted.
Sure, he'll have a chance to wow scouts and coaches at his personal workout, sure to take place in some warm or climate-controlled environment later in the spring. But Clarett won't get another chance to make a first impression.
With the risk of sounding like Dr. Phil, here are 10 topics that he can bet will come up during this process. Not only will his answers but also his demeanor in answering these questions will be under the microscope.
What's your schedule for the spring?
If the reports are true that his body is soft and he's not real fit, his workout regimen and all its particulars will be on the minds of every team.
What are your offseason plans once you're in the league?
Teams now have made it a priority for players to be available and enrolled in their offseason program in their particular city. Ohio State players have made a habit of returning to Columbus to work out instead. This may be an issue for some teams.
What's your version of the troubles you've encountered at Ohio State?
I'd be looking for honesty and his willingness to accept or place blame.
Who are the two people who have influenced your life the most to this point?
The thinking here is to see where he will go for advice or where he will lean when he encounters issues along the way in life.
Do you have a plan for a support system when you move to your city of employment?
Will he be on his own, or will family follow? Who's going to help with finances, etc., and has he finalized his decision on an agent, yet?
If I talked to a couple of your teammates at Ohio State, what would they say about you?
I want to know whether he understands how he may be perceived as a teammate and as a person.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a football player?
I'd like to know whether he's going to be honest about his abilities or whether he's kidding himself. It's all part of the process of identifying if "he gets it" or "not."
Why are you not running a 40-yard dash here at the combine?
I'm looking for some humility here and responsibility for him being out of shape.
You've been a big fish in a little pond on every team you've for which you've played. Can you deal with being a backup and working your way up the depth chart if you're not a starter initially?
I'd like to know whether he's willing to compete for a job. He's been given the starting job in the past because of his talent, but everyone is talented at this level. His answer also may be a gauge of his competitiveness.
Why should we take a chance on Maurice Clarett?
I'd be looking for just what he thinks he has to prove. Is he on a mission to show people what he's all about as a person and as a player?
Again, self-evaluation is as much a part of the process as is his attitude regarding the whole Indy experience. Ideally, I'd like to be the 15th to 20th team to interview him out of the 32 he'll endure during the day. How he responds to the grind of this process might indicate how he'll respond to the grind of the NFL.
Randy Mueller, a former NFL team executive with the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints, is an NFL analyst for ESPN.com.