O.J. Howard heard about all the NFL Scouting combine horror stories leading up to his week in Indianapolis, but he came away with the same cool, collected demeanor with which he entered.
"People say it's long and tiring, and I guess that's true, there were some long days and some long nights, but I wasn't as tired as I thought I'd be," said Howard, who checks in regularly with NFL.com as part of our Path to the Draft series. "People were telling me you get no sleep -- like two hours -- and there was only like one night where I got only five hours. Every other night I got more than five.
"As bad as people were making it in terms of sleep -- they were making it seem like you wouldn't sleep at all."
Life is good for Howard, the standout tight end from Alabama, who beat his personal expectations in the 40-yard dash with an official 4.51 (he expected to run a 4.58). He also put up a 6.85-second 3-cone drill, a 4.16 20-yard shuttle and an 11.46-second 60-yard shuttle, making him the breakaway favorite to be the first tight end off the board in the 2017 NFL Draft.
"What happens is, you go in there and they put up your film from college," Howard said. "They start talking about your family, where you're from, background and all of that. Then they put on your tape and ask you, on that play, what was your responsibility, what were you doing, how do you grade yourself? And basically, that's how it was with everybody.
"One team was asking me to get on the board and write out my favorite play or your favorite run-blocking play."
The favorite play tactic was used by the Arizona Cardinals, who had both head coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim in the room during Howard's visit. He said there was a great atmosphere among the group, but came out of the entire meeting process recalling his time with the Rams most vividly.
The team's new 31-year-old head coach, Sean McVay, created a decidedly different atmosphere.
"Yeah, I could kind of feel a nice little vibe from him. He came off as a really nice guy. He kept the room interesting: He's a funny guy."