Aside from the medical evaluation for prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine (March 2-5 on NFL Network), the most important part of the event from a scouting standpoint is the interview, not the workout. The interviews take place each night. They're a good opportunity for clubs to get questions answered and begin to learn more about these prospects.
In my years as a scout, I saw some prospects alleviate concerns during these 15-minute sessions, and I saw others be removed from our draft board based on their handling of the questions.
With that in mind, and this year's combine a week away, I reached out to five NFL personnel executives with this question: Which player in the 2018 NFL Draft has the most riding on his combine interviews? Here are their answers.
Executive 1: UCLA QB Josh Rosen
"I feel like Baker Mayfield will have the confidence and charisma to carry a room in a quick interview setting. Rosen could be polarizing. Intelligent but no telling how he will come across. Gut feel is that half the room is turned off and other half is impressed."
Executive 2: Rosen
"First impressions can set the tone for the spring, and he could easily dazzle a team in a 15-minute first interview. I'd expect him to excel in that arena."
Executive 3: LSU edge rusher Arden Key
"Key really needs to explain what happened last offseason and talk about where he is now. He was the biggest disappointment of the 2017 season."
Executive 4: Key
"People have to meet the person and see if he can explain everything that's happened over the last two years. He needs to gain the trust of the decision makers. When right, he's a special talent."
Executive 5: Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield
"It's a big opportunity for Mayfield. Let's see if he owns up to his past incidents and how he conducts himself."
Summary: That's two votes apiece for Rosen and Key, and one vote for Mayfield.
Conclusion: I'm not surprised to see these three players mentioned. Each is immensely talented, and the questions will be different for all three of them.
For Rosen, teams will want to get a better feel for his personality/intangibles that have been the subject of criticism. For Key, the questions will likely be related to the leave of absence he took from the team last offseason and his disappointing 2017 season. For Mayfield, it comes down to maturity. Is he mature enough to handle what will be asked of him at the next level?
I think all three players could go a long way to alleviating concerns with good team interviews in Indianapolis. However, that is just a starting point for them. Any team that's interested in selecting these players will definitely schedule team visits to the facility where they can delve a lot deeper than they're able to in a 15-minute interview session at the combine.