Of the 335 NFL draft prospects who will gather in Indianapolis next week for the NFL Scouting Combine, personal interviews with individual NFL clubs will be more crucial for some than others.
And none more crucial than Chris Boyd.
The former Vanderbilt wide receiver didn't play last season, suspended and later dismissed from the team after being charged by police with helping to cover up a rape that resulted in the expulsion of four teammates. While Boyd is not alleged to have been at the scene of the crime, and charges against him were later reduced to a misdemeanor, his after-the-fact involvement will no doubt be something all 32 clubs ask him about.
"I know the questions are coming," Boyd told tennessean.com. "And I am ready to tell my side of what happened, and it will clear up a lot of the misconceptions about what really did happen. I know everyone is going to want to know about it, and I understand that."
Boyd's agent, Chris Turnage, told the publication that he understands Boyd to be a third- to fifth-round pick. His suspension kept him off the field for the entirety of the 2013 season, so he'll be two years removed from game action by the fall. Russ Lande, who formerly worked in scouting with the Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams, underscored the importance of the interview process for Boyd.
"If he can't clear it up 100 percent to where teams have no doubts he was not involved in anything in any shape or form, a lot of teams will boot him right off the board," Lande said.
Boyd (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) caught 50 passes for 774 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012 for the Commodores. Lande said he wouldn't be surprised if Boyd outperforms Vanderbilt All-American and SEC record-setting receiver Jordan Matthews in combine drills, something program insiders indicated to College Football 24/7 back in August before Boyd's legal problems surfaced.
If Boyd outperforms Matthews, it will raise eyebrows. But even more important will be the interviews, where he must raise something else in club personnel executives: confidence.