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Combine a taxing stretch for prospects

In the working world most job interviews last a half-hour to 45 minutes at best. The situation is much different however, when it comes to the multi-million dollar "hiring" decisions NFL clubs have to make. For the league's top prospects the NFL Combine is a four-day interview in which they have their body and background so thoroughly examined they're physically and mentally drained when it's all over.

"I basically remember how busy it was from the moment you set foot in the hotel until you left," said Bills guard Andy Levitre, who attended the Combine in 2009. "The first day you do all of the medical with the medical tests. Then you have the individual team interviews throughout the evening. During any down time you're checking in with your agent or another team is trying to set up another time to meet with you. It's just crazy."

The arrival of college prospects in Indianapolis for the NFL combine later this week is staggered based on position group. This year, for example, offensive linemen, kickers, punters, long snappers and tight ends arrive on Thursday, with quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers to follow on Friday. Defensive linemen and linebackers show up on Saturday before defensive backs arrive on Sunday.

As far as Levitre is concerned the most taxing day is the first day when all of the medical testing is conducted. It's usually the last chance for all 32 NFL clubs to fully examine a player's physical makeup first hand, so each team brings their medical staff to perform the exam and any testing they deem necessary.

"You're on the table and the doctors come in and look at you and they're poking and pulling on you," said Levitre. "They're announcing all your past medical history. That was crazy. There was a drug test in the morning, so you're up at 5:30 in the morning for that and then you're on the table for what seems like the whole day.

"When it was done I was about ready to fall asleep. I thought it was like five in the afternoon, but when they finished with me it was only 11:30. It just seemed like forever."

In the evenings prospects are often behind closed doors with individual teams for personal interviews. Each team is allowed to conduct 60 such interviews. Some teams have more creative questions than others, but most clubs are looking to get a better handle on the player as a person as well as their knowledge and passion for the game.

"They want to know your family background and your life growing up along with your desire for football," Levitre said. "They'll pull up some film and have you critique yourself to see if you can identify what you did well or what you might have done wrong on some plays. They'll throw a curve ball at you every once in a while."

The last day of a prospect's four day stay is when the workout on the field is conducted. The players are put through seven different drills designed to help determine, strength, agility, power and explosiveness. Position skill tests are included among them.

There is also an intelligence exam commonly known as the Wonderlic test, in which players have a set amount of time to answer a series of questions.

When the four-day stretch is over NFL prospects are typically looking for a nap. That's why Levitre's advice to this year's prospects is to be mentally and physically prepared for the combine grind.

"Get as much rest as possible because it's a major strain," he said. "You also want to show that you can be a leader and you have to show a desire to compete, especially in those physical drills on your last day there. And in your interviews it's important to show that you have a passion for the game."

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