Beginning February 22 in Indianapolis, around 300 NFL hopefuls will gather to try to add ‘performance in a controlled environment’ to their resumes. Already deemed worthy of an invite by a panel of scouts, these players will take a big step in solidifying their draft positioning in the minds of NFL teams.
For those who didn’t receive an invitation to the Combine, the stakes are even higher as they will look to make lasting impressions during their school’s pro day.
“This is the most important interview we’ll have in our lives,” former UCLA wide receiver Taylor Embree said after a mock run through of Combine drills organized by Denver-area trainer Loren Landow.
Of the thirty prospects at the run though, only four received an invitation to participate in Indianapolis.
“A lot of these guys are guys that have been overlooked in their careers. We know how important this is,” said Embree who is also the son of former NFL tight end and University of Colorado head coach Jon Embree.
While relying exclusively on a school’s pro day may feel like being overlooked to a player looking to reach his dream of signing with an NFL team, it is certainly not a dead end either.
“You hear of guys getting invited to the Combine and you don’t get a Combine invite,” Embree said. “You kind of get down, but then you get here and you see the talent that’s here and how hard guys are working, and you realize not everyone goes through the same process to get to the league.”
Just ask current Denver Broncos players who never received their Combine invitation. Cornerback Chris Harris and running back Lance Ball were both able to contribute extensively to the Broncos in 2011. Harris had 69 tackles, 6 passes defended, and 1 interception. Ball had 113 carries for 457 yards and 1 rushing touchdown. Neither were drafted, but both were active for all 18 games this season – evidence that a player can see his NFL dream become reality despite not participating in the Combine.
For Embree to achieve that goal, the pressure falls squarely on his UCLA pro day performance on March 6. That’s exactly why he came to Denver to work with Landow.
“One thing that this process has really done has helped calm the nerves,” Embree said. “After the season I was petrified to get up there and run a 40, but Loren instills a confidence in you. It’s just like football: if you’re confident you’re going to go out there and play well and I think it’s the same thing with pro day. Loren has done a great job of working on our weaknesses, working on our starts on our 40, working on our vertical leap. Working with Loren, we’re going to be prepared.”
Taylor Embree Bio:
6’3″, 207 lbs.
137 Receptions, 1776 Yards, 4 Touchdowns