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Deon Simon draft diary 2.0: Surprise Belichick meeting

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Throughout the pre-draft process, Around The NFL's Conor Orr will be keeping tabs on a pair of prospects -- Northwestern State defensive tackle Deon Simon and Michigan State wideout Tony Lippett -- hoping to make a splash at the NFL Scouting Combine and secure their status as Day 1 draft selections. In Thursday's installment, Simon talks about the biggest surprise of the combine.

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There is a certain naivete that populates the NFL scouting combine, especially among unheralded prospects who aren't expected to be taken in the first round of the upcoming draft.

Many say this is why certain players make it. The doubt sticks with them longer. The initial lack of interest from other teams lingers. They never allow the initial rush to go away.

So imagine Deon Simon, a 6-4, 332-pound defensive tackle out of Northwestern State (La.), and one of Around The NFL's draft diary participants, entering the Patriots' meeting room at the combine.

He's certainly not a nobody, especially after finishing No. 1 among defensive line prospects in the bench press and third overall (35 reps), but still expects a position coach and maybe a scout at the meeting. Thankfully, his preparation has taught him to get ready for anything.

Simon takes over the story here:

I didn't exactly think Bill Belichick was going to be there. But when I walked in the door, he was sitting right behind the door and he stood up and he shook my hand.

It felt unreal, I mean, you always see him on television and I mean -- that's Bill Belichick! To have the opportunity to be in the same room with him and in the same presence, it was really exciting. I was just trying to hold my composure.

It was on Saturday night. He was asking me about my background, personal stuff, but in the back of my mind, all I'm thinking is, man, that's Bill Belichick.

There were a few people in there, Bill and six others from his staff. In most of my meetings, the technical questions were mostly the same. They would set up a base defense and ask me where to line up. They'd show me an under look, a 3-4 defense, a 4-3 defense, just trying to read the offense. They'd ask me to read the opposing offense -- 21 personnel, 10 personnel, the base fronts.

It was just an amazing experience, something I'm never going to forget.

The combine is funny like that. In other meetings -- I had about 15 total -- coaches will give you a minute and ask you how many different ways you can use a paper clip. I forgot what shape it was, but someone asked me how many times can fold it. With the paper clip, I just said holding paper together (laughs). Maybe you could take it loose and do something else with it. It was tricky.

But it's great to be home in Louisiana to let it all sink in. I'm waiting on my agents to do some research on a training facility back home and I'm looking forward to my Pro Day coming up on March 24. Now it's just about waiting out the process.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews free agency and tells you which big-name players could be released. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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