Before he went to the Pro Bowl and became a Super Bowl champion, Cato June was just a prospect out of Michigan hoping to get drafted. The former NFL linebacker and defensive back was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2003, but he remembers quite vividly the experience of going though the scouting combine.
“You talk about being under pressure,” June said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It wasn’t really the event that it is now. Everything’s not on TV and showcased. It’s more like, ‘Hey, this is business.’ It’s a long, long, two-and-a-half days.”
As many fans know, prospects meet with scouts and NFL executives, perform drills and participate in interviews, among other obligations.
Is any piece of the pie more important than the others?
“I think they’re all equally important,” June said. “You always say you only need one GM to like you, one coach to like you. But you don’t know which one (might). They all know that you can obviously play and you might fit their scheme, but there are other intangibles that they’re looking for. How do you do in the interview process? How do you carry yourself around the combine? What are the extra curricular things they do? So you never know what’s the most important thing to that particular organization.”
While the drills are pretty straightforward – run fast, jump high, lift hard – the interviews take on a life of their own and can go any which way.
“It’s funny because everybody kind of approaches it different,” June said. “You might have one situation where you have the good-cop, bad-cop thing going on. You might have a situation where it’s real lax and they’re trying to get you to relax to maybe get you to say something that (you might say) in a relaxed setting (when your guard is down). Some people are strictly business: ‘Get up on the board. What do you know about this type of coverage?’ And there’s no joking or none of that.”
“It’s all different,” June continued. “You really don’t know what to expect. I think the anticipation is what really kind of scares you because you don’t know where you’re going to land. It’s kind of a unique (process), especially for a young adult.”
June, 35, was a sixth-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, going 198th overall. He played four seasons with the Colts, helping them to a Super Bowl win over the Bears in February 2007. He later played for Tampa Bay, Chicago and the Omaha Nighthawks of the now-defunct UFL.
Thus, June has seen and done it all – and the combine helped get him there.
“I remember being excited,” he said. “You look at it and you have the opportunity to play college football at a high level, and then only a certain amount of people get invited to the combine. So you look at it almost as a blessing because it’s a privilege. It’s a privilege to be there amongst the greats.”