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MSU's Clay Harbor confident after NFL combine
Former Bears tight end thinks he made a good impression on scouts, coaches.
Lining up alongside the nation’s college football elite seniors last week at the NFL scouting combine did not intimidate Missouri State’s Clay Harbor.
“I consider myself a very confident player,” Harbor said. “Seeing guys you hear them talk about all the time on ESPN, guys that are put on a pedestal, that gave me confidence.
“They were just regular guys, like me, at a job interview.”
It was a job interview during which applicants are measured, weighed, poked and X-rayed – over and over for a week.
They also got to display their football talents – at least, a little bit – in between timed sprints, weightlifting and psychological testing.
“All in all, everything went well,” Harbor said of his week in Indianapolis. “I think I made a good impression and I definitely am confident that I’ll hear my named called in the draft.”
The NFL draft is April 22-24.
Harbor was one of 20 players from the Football Championship Subdivision or below among the 330 invited to the combine.
Among tight ends, Harbor finished first with 30 bench press repetitions at 225 pounds, second in vertical jump at 40 inches and fourth in the 40-yard dash at 4.69 seconds.
The 40 time was a disappointment. Harbor said he had consistently timed in the 4.5 range this winter.
“I was a little off in my start both times I ran the 40,” Harbor said. “I’ll go back and work on that.
“I don’t think it’s a big thing. Some of the scouts had seen me run in the 4.5s before the combine.”
The 6-foot-3, 252-pound Harbor had 59 receptions for 729 yards last season for the Bears. He also played in the East-West Shrine game and Texas vs. The Nation all-star games this winter.
“It sounds as if he did a nice job at the combine and I know he’s excited,” MSU coach Terry Allen said. “I think he’s going to project as a mid-round draft pick, though you really never know.”
Harbor said some in-depth interviews by various NFL head coaches and general managers were a big part of combine week.
He called New York Jets coach Rex Ryan “a good guy” and also had praise after meeting New England’s Bill Belichick, Seattle’s Pete Carroll and Carolina’s John Fox.
Part of the interviews included stepping to a grease board and diagramming plays.
“They wanted to make sure you were a smart player, that you recognized formations and coverages,” Harbor said.
Several hours a day were spent undergoing psychological and intelligence testing, including the famed Wonderlic test.
Teams also extensively studied his medical history. He said he had two MRIs and 10 X-rays during the week to check various ailments from high school and college.
“That part of the process was pretty crazy,” Harbor said. “But they’re just wanting to make sure.”
Harbor remains amused by other things from the combine, especially the psychological testing.
“Some of the questions would make you go, ‘What does this have to do with football?’ ” he said. “For instance, ‘What kind of animal would you be, a cat or a dog?’
“Weird stuff, like that.”
He came away from the experience with the understanding that football now is a business, not merely a game.
“It’s all just a big test to see whoever can come out of there and still work out well after being mentally and physically put through it. That’s the kind of guy they want,” he said.
Harbor is back in Springfield and plans to work out until March 19, when he works out for scouts again at Plaster Sports Complex.
One goal will be improving the 40-yard time. Otherwise, Harbor said he believes he has done about all he can.
“I’m sure it’ll be nerve-racking leading up to the draft,” he said. “But I’m not going to be too worried. I’ll just let the chips fall where they may.”
By Lyndal Scranton, News-Leader