Wednesday evening, Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was a guest on NFL Total Access and spoke with Warren Sapp about the Cardinals and getting back to the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft and, more specifically, the NFL Combine that begins today in Indianapolis.
At the NFL Combine, draft prospects will undergo a litany of physical and mental evaluations that teams will use to help finalize their opinions of these players and this will help determine where they fall in the 2011 NFL Draft. Dockett remembers it well and how he had a lot to prove to the scouts because of his supposed lack of size and speed.
When told that, at 290 lbs, he would be too small to play tackle and that he was not fast enough to play off the edge at defensive end, he responded with a chip on his shoulder, "Ok, I'll show you all."
Dockett is not a fan of the combine in the sense of using it to make personnel decisions. "You really can't judge a football player from running, doing drills and doing all that until you get on the field," he said. "It really [doesn't] mean anything. It's all about the player and can you play football."
When asked what he would tell a young player going into the combine, Dockett said to "be yourself and don't go in there and read off a book and try to learn what everyone wants you to say because, when you get to that team, your personality is going to set in."
On waiting to be selected on draft day (he was selected with the first pick of the third round by the Cardinals), he said, "teams passed me by. It was the most miserable thing."
This worked out for him and the Cardinals because from that point on he had a chip on his shoulders and, according to Dockett, he still does today.
You have to tend to agree with him on his take on the combine, but at the same time realize that this is coming from a guy who was undersized. Most teams will tell you that the combine is simply one small part of evaluating a player. If used that way, it is very effective.
Warren Sapp also brought up the Super Bowl and how Dockett tied Reggie White for the most sacks in a Super Bowl with three and asked him what it would take to get Arizona back to the biggest game. There were three points he made. One was improvements on defense. The next was the quarterback situation, as he said the "struggled at the quarterback position; we got to get that figured out." The last point was simply chemistry, and he expressed hope that the CBA negotiations get taken care of quickly so they can get back to football. "The quicker we get back to football, the quicker we can get out of last place in our division."
I don't think anyone could have said it any better.
The full video is posted on azcardinals.com.