The NFL’s most-hyped combine will be held this week in Indianapolis, but 10 regional combines are also being conducted, open to both draft-eligible players and players who are older but still want a shot with an NFL team.
There was a familiar name taking part in the Cleveland regional on Sunday: Pierre Woods.
Signed by New England in 2006 as an undrafted rookie, Woods was the oldest participant at the Cleveland Browns’ facility for the session, hoping for an invite to the super-regional in Dallas on April 7.
Woods spent four-plus seasons in the NFL, playing in 54 games with the Patriots. The last game he played was in 2010, with the Bills.
Now 31 and a father of four, Woods is a laborer for Precision Environmental.
“I cut walls out,” Woods told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “I work four 10-hour shifts and it’s a very physical job, often cutting through cement. I like it though. It’s basically demolition work and it keeps me in shape.”
Woods played at powerhouse Glenville High, not far from the Browns’ facility, before moving on to Michigan. He saw two of his childhood friends and high school teammates, Donte Whitner and Ted Ginn Jr., play in Super Bowl XLVII as members of the 49ers.
Participants in the combine went through the standard drills – 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical jump, shuttle run, etc. – but only one actual scout was there, a member of the Bears’ staff.
However, the regional combines aren’t just for show: according to an NFL release, there were 14 players on NFL rosters at the start of the 2012 season who had come through that route, and the same number on practice squads.
And they have one very successful alum: Adam Vinatieri, who was found at a regional combine years ago.