The annual NFL scouting combine is nearly complete, with over 330 players dissected in Indianapolis by pro teams waiting on the next Tom Brady, Ezekiel Elliott or Von Miller.
But there were hundreds of others who weren’t there, and not because they didn’t want to be but because they weren’t asked — and former Baltimore linebacker Zach Orr knows just how they feel. That’s because Orr was one of those uninvited prospects, left behind in 2014 when he was a star linebacker at North Texas.
Orr conceded on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast that he was disappointed to stay home. But he also said he used it as motivation, parlaying the desire he had to play in the NFL to become a starter last season for the Baltimore Ravens when he was named a second-team All-Pro.
So the obvious question: What advice would Zach Orr give those not invited to Indianapolis?
“I tell them just to block the noise out and use it as motivation,” said Orr, who was forced to retire after last season because of a congenital neck/spinal condition. “I know for myself, when I was not invited to the combine, I watched the combine every single day. And I did feel as if I should have been out there.
“But I used it as motivation to go that much harder in my workout, that much harder in my dieting and in my preparation of hopefully getting that shot. Even though you don’t get invited to the combine, it’s a chance for you to showcase what you can do — whether that’s your Pro Day and then, if you’re fortunate enough — and go undrafted as I did — to get an opportunity to come in and get signed by a team.
“(But) you have to make sure you’re prepared. So you can’t be in a funk and mull over not getting invited to the combine and let that affect your preparation. You have to be ready whenever you get the chance because you may only have one chance to showcase yourself to the National Football League. You have to make sure you’re ready and put on a good show.
“So don’t get down. There are plenty of people who don’t get invited to the combine that made names for themselves in the NFL.”
He has that right. In fact, this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll (http://www.talkoffamenetwork.com/best-non-combine-player-ever/) includes several of the best, including tight end Antonio Gates, linebacker James Harrison, cornerback Chris Harris, Hall-of-Famer John Randle and wide receivers Julian Edelman and Wes Welker.
The message there is as loud as it is clear in Orr’s voice: Just because you’re not invited to the combine doesn’t mean there’s no future in the NFL. And Zach Orr is the proof.
“Of course, everybody wants to be invited to it,” said Orr. “You grow up watching it and everything, but it’s not the end of the world. Hopefully, you’ll be blessed with the opportunity to showcase yourself. Just make sure you’re ready for the opportunity.”