In retrospect, at least around here, the Shonn Greene weight thingie made for a pretty funny joke.
Greene spent 2007 away from the University of Iowa, taking care of academics and working at McGregor’s Furniture in Iowa City. Fitness was a good question. Greene was going to go from a “civilian” to Big Ten running back.
His weight rumors topped out at 3-bills, give or take. He cleared the air on it during camp last August, saying he went as high as 249 pounds. He was listed as a 235-pounder during his record-breaking, Doak Walker-Award winning, Silver Football-ing 2008 season.
The NFL won’t find humor in the weight fluxuation. The NFL will want to know exactly what happened with Greene’s academics. The NFL will want to know that Greene will learn a playbook.
The NFL doesn’t give million-dollar contracts without some answers.
This is job interview season for pro football prospects. The NFL combine will take place Feb. 18 in Indianapolis. More than 600 NFL personnel executives will descend on Lucas Oil Stadium in search of answers.
The NFL Network will televise 25 hours of the combine with coverage beginning Feb. 19. Mike Mayock, the network’s college football expert, will be front and center for the coverage.
During a conference call Tuesday, Mayock said he doesn’t see Greene as a second rounder, where many NFL draft prognosticators have Greene. Mayock, who’s the NFL Network’s version of ESPN’s Mel Kiper, said Greene’s a probable third rounder with some serious questions to answer.
For Greene, it’ll start with the interview.
Interviews and psychological tests are an important part of the evaluation to determine the overall draft grades of NFL prospects. Each team gets 60 interviews at the combine in 15-minute intervals. Combined with the mental tests, the method is used to help determine how a college player would fit in with an NFL team.
The entire process can be intrusive, difficult and sometimes demeaning. Teams ask about every character flaw and past lapse in judgment.
“He’s got to win the interview,” Mayock said about Greene. “I’m not as concerned with him on the field. He’s got huge production but only one year and he’s got a bunch of off-the-field issues he’s going to have to deal with.”
When Mayock says “character” with Greene, he’s talking about academics and weight fluxuation. Greene signed with Iowa in 2004 but couldn’t enroll and had to go prep school because of a test score. In prep school, he hit the weightroom for the first time in his life and went from 200 to 225 pounds. In June 2006, Greene was forced to leave Iowa because of academics. He was allowed back for the summer 2008 semester.
Greene quickly made the weight question a joke with his performance. He finished with 1,850 yards and 20 TDs, Iowa records. He won every award that matters for a running back. He propelled an offense that struggled through a quarterback debate.
After Iowa’s Outback Bowl victory over South Carolina, Greene announed that he would forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft. Greene, who’ll be 24 before next football season, has signed with an agent.
“I think the key for him is making sure people understood why he flunked out of school, making sure people understood the weight fluxuations and convincing them that he can learn a playbook and he won’t be in any kind of trouble and that he does have a good worth ethic,” Mayock said. “That’s the key for Shonn Greene.”
With that in mind, Mayock, who has regular conversations with NFL personnel people, doesn’t see Greene as a second-round pick.
“To me, he’s not going to be a high-level second-round pick,” Mayock said. “I think he’ll be fortunate to sneak into the second round. I think he’s more of a third-round pick. I’ve got five running backs ahead of him on my list.”
Ohio State’s Chris Wells is Mayock’s No. 1 back. Texas A&M’s Mike Goodson is his No. 5.
As far as combine exercises go, Mayock thinks Greene’s numbers will be fine. The combine is on the calendar. Players have plenty of time to get into shape and prepare. Mayock was asked if Greene needs to hit a certain number in the 40-yard dash.
“If he runs 4.8, it’s going to hurt him,” Mayock said. “I’m assuming he’ll come in in the best shape of his life because this is the biggest job interview in his life. I would assume he’s going to run plus or minus 4.6 and I think that’s fine.”
The contract range for a first- and a third-round running back is huge.
The last running back taken in the first round last season was the Tennessee Titans’ Chris Johnson. He signed a five-year, $12 million contract with $7 million guaranteed. The Chicago Bears’ Matt Forte was the first running back taken in the second round. His contract is four years at $3.781 million with $2 million guaranteed.
Baltimore’s Ray Rice was the final running back picked in the second round. His deal is four years for $2.85 million. The first running back in the third round was the Detroit Lions’ Kevin Smith, whose deal is three years for $1.79 million.
Greene will be one of five Hawkeyes at the NFL combine. He’ll join center Rob Bruggeman, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, defensive tackle Mitch King and offensive lineman Seth Olsen.