As DeMeco Ryans evaluated players at the 2023 NFL Combine, he couldn't help but recall his own experience as a draft prospect.
"What I remember most is doing a bench press test, doing about 27 reps on the bench press and then going into a little small room right next door to do the Wonderlic," Ryans said, laughing. "And I'm like, this doesn't make sense."
Ryans performed well enough to be selected in the 2006 NFL Draft with the 33rd overall pick by the Houston Texans. Even though he's the one asking the questions this time around, the 38-year-old head coach can connect with players on a deeper level.
"I think I relate to guys because I've been in these guys' shoes," Ryans said. "I've played the game. I've been here through this Combine process. I've played the game and played at a high level. I understand what players go through. Not only on the field, but it's off the field where guys are pulled in a lot of different directions. I understand that for you to be able to be a good coach, you have to be able to connect with guys. It's not just about telling guys what to do. It's being on that level with the guys where they have a true mutual respect for you."
Ryans describes the week-long Combine experience as "hectic" for players. Much like his experience, going from a physical competition straight into an intelligence test, players are interviewing with NFL teams at lightening speed in A high-stress environment. Ryans wants to treat players how he would have wanted to be treated throughout the process. The goal is to put already-stressed prospects at ease so he can find out more about their story, according to Ryans.
"When I'm interviewing guys and talking to guys, I just think back on my experience and it's like, how much information can you get out of a guy in 15-minute formal interviews?" Ryans said. "It's just being able to take the process slow, make sure guys feel comfortable and make sure you truly understand who this guy is, what's his makeup? What's his background? Truly understanding that that's the most important thing."
The 2023 NFL Combine wraps up today at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
DeMeco Ryans has been named as head coach of the Houston Texans. Check out the best photos of Ryans as a Texans linebacker.