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2020 NFL Draft

Mike Pettine, Ray Farmer reveal their favorite questions to ask draft prospects


INDIANAPOLIS -- Secrets are minimal.

One Google search is enough to paint a broad picture of a prospect. Add the extensive scouting and digging conducted by all 32 of the NFL's teams, and there's enough information to craft a detailed biography.

That's why the interviews at the annual NFL scouting combine are less about fact-finding and more about how a player responds in the moment. Each one is unique because each player's background has a different feel, a different itch coaches, general managers and scouts try to scratch in the short period of time they're allotted.

"The interviews are different for everybody," Farmer said. "There's guys that they're wholesome and everybody knows that everything's great. There's guys that everything's not so clear so you've got to figure out some of those missing pieces of the puzzle. We've got to use those interviews to get as much as that knowledge as we can."

A handful of questions are the same for each player, Browns coach Mike Pettine said. A few examples, Pettine said, center on them discussing their college teammates, the best players they faced and which coaching style they think fits them best.

Some of the off-the-wall questions that have become the stuff of Combine lore aren't in Pettine's arsenal.

"I'm not out there asking them how many things you can do with a brick or a paperclip and stuff like that," Pettine said. "Some of them are more entertaining than others but for the most part, these guys are very coached up. You can tell some of them are pretty polished at it and have been practicing for a while, so you've got to dig pretty deep to get some info."

Pettine shrugged off the notion that his line of questioning makes players sweat. He joked his shaved head might intimidate a few players, though.

Ultimately, the Browns coach said he wants to come away from an interview knowing whether or not a player loves football.

"Sometimes that's hard to figure out," Pettine said. "Does this guy love what football does for him or does he truly love the game and is passionate about it? That's something that you can really find out. You'd be surprised how much you can find out in a short period of time. That's the biggest reason why we're here."

For example, if a player has a basketball background, Pettine said he will ask a player if he'd rather be in the NBA or NFL. Unfortunately, he said, their answers aren't always the latter.

Farmer said he likes to jump around a lot with the canned questions to keep prospects on their toes. His favorite question isn't really a question at all.

It's an open-ended request that can take on a life of its own.

"Tell me about your toughness," Farmer said. "Tell me about your love for football. Some guys don't answer that question right. Seems like it's a layup but it's never a layup."

This article is part of the Road to the Draft series, driven by Liberty Ford.

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