Philadelphia, PA – Drill results like a 4.5-second clocking yard dash or a 38-inch vertical jump are easily measured and deciphered by NFL personnel while they evaluate draft prospects.
Character concerns fall so much more into a gray area.
They are why teams sort through extra homework to decide if Mr. All-America is all that he's cracked up to be or the so-called problem child is really that.
Montana All-America senior cornerback Trumaine Johnson wishes he could change his in-season arrest in late October in Missoula when he and a teammate were arrested after police were called to a loud party at Johnson's apartment. Following a brief scuffle with officers, both players were tased before their arrest.
They eventually pleaded no contest to a charge of disorderly conduct while other misdemeanor charges were dropped.
Johnson, a two-time Buck Buchanan Award finalist who is considered one of the top draft candidates from the FCS, has been both open and apologetic about the embarrassing arrest. Not only did he use the recent NFL Combine to display his considerable skills, but he used it to try to clear his name with the teams.
He doesn't want any questions about his character to follow him the way the FCS "small school" label might while he moves toward the draft.
The 6-foot-2, 204-pound Johnson has the size, length and quick footwork to make an impact in the NFL. He doesn't have exceptional speed for his position, but drips with athleticism. He generally is projected to go in the third or fourth round.
After his senior season, the 22-year-old went to Orlando, Fla., to work with trainer Tom Shaw and his staff on speed and performance. It led up to his participation at the Combine, where he hopes he dispelled all off-the-field concerns.
In Five-a-Side - In the FCS Huddle's monthly feature of "five questions, five answers" with an influential person in the FCS - Johnson discusses his status as he moves toward the NFL Draft from April 26-28.
Let's kick off:
TSN: At the Combine, what do you think you accomplished?
TM: I believe I accomplished everything I went there to do. My 40, I kind of shocked myself. Working with Tom Shaw, I never went 100 percent, I was always going, you know, 35. He stressed the fact about not getting hurt. I believe I ran a good time at the Combine. Unofficial, 4.50; official, 4.62. For my size, I think that's good. All the drills went smoothly. I had fun out there.
The teams, they know you, they know the person you are still. So, obviously, they wanted to get to know your personality a little more. I talked to 26 teams.
I went in there and told the truth. You know, I had off-the-field issues. I was up-front and explained myself and was being honest with them.
TSN: And tell us, you pleaded no contest to the disorderly conduct charge. What has that incident taught you?
TM: I learned I would never put myself in that situation again. It was my fault. I shouldn't have been there in-season, shouldn't have.
They dropped the obstruction of a peace officer and resisting arrest and I got charged with disorderly conduct - basically the noise complaint (Johnson paid a fine).
TSN: Is there a player with whom you pattern your game?
TM: I would like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Philadelphia Eagles cornerback out of Tennessee State). You know, his size, runs fast, his skills are really good. I pattern my game around him. You know, he likes to be aggressive coming down - lot of corners don't do that today. I'm just trying to be that way.
TSN: FCS players have to overcome the "small school" label. What does that label mean to you?
TM: School-small label, I get that a lot. But I tell everybody else who I could that everything happens for a reason. I'm just going to take advantage of my opportunities, like I've done out here at Montana.
TSN: In talking to former Montana players, what have you learned about competing on the next level?
TM: I've been talking to a lot (including Colt Anderson, Marc Mariani and Shann Schillinger) coming up to this Combine. I talked to a few every other day, just telling them, 'This is what I do. This is what I have.'
They just gave me little advice. You know, just relax and basically take your time once you get there. When you do all the drills ... just actually breath and take it all in.