Matt Rhule says an elevator ride with a prospect eliminated him from consideration

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Every interaction between a draft prospect and a member of an NFL team can be like a job interview as front office personnel try to learn as much as possible about someone who could soon be a part of their team.

That reality may be even greater this year with fewer games on tape, fewer scouting opportunities, a less robust draft preparation circuit and more.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said that a short interaction with a highly-regarded prospect last year cemented for Rhule that he wouldn’t be a fit for what they want to do in Carolina.

There was a player last year, and I won’t say who, but was supposed to be drafted pretty highly,” Rhule said Tuesday, via Darin Gantt of the team’s website. “And I got in the elevator with him at the Combine, and I was like, by the end of that elevator ride, I was like, ‘There’s no way that guy will be a fit with us.'”

Head coaches don’t get to spend the entire year evaluating and looking at college prospects. Their window of study is much shorter as they have a season to coach and games to prepare for themselves. Making the transition from Baylor to the NFL last year, Rhule may have had some passing familiarity with more potential draftees due to recruiting trips or games played against their teams. Nevertheless, the chance for face-to-face interaction for coaches is limited and that interaction left a lasting opinion for Rhule.

“We think we know these guys, and our scouts do a great job,” Rhule said. “But that’s only information from a third party. This is a chance for players to speak for themselves and say, ‘This is who I am. This is what my makeup is.’ Coaching them, being in meetings, just being in an elevator with them, you get a sense for the guys.

“We’re looking to find who’s tough, hard-working, and competitive, who’s smart, who loves the game. And who’s a good person. We spend six months a year together, so we want to be around people that we like and fit us.”

26 responses to “Matt Rhule says an elevator ride with a prospect eliminated him from consideration

  1. Dude should be a corporate recruiter. If I was able to decide in 20 seconds if a candidate was going to work out or not, I’d be a millionaire.

  2. Interesting, bashing an anonymous player. Character tests go both ways. Keeping it to himself would seem like the higher ground to me, but what do I know!

  3. That’s why I think some teams are really going to get burned this upcoming draft without the in-person interaction at the combine. These prospects can create whatever persona they want on camera–they’ve been doing it on social media for years–and it could be 180 degrees opposite of who they really are. Ask any HR recruiter; Zoom may be the only option we have for the foreseeable future, but for interactions on which high-stakes decisions will be made, it’s far from ideal.

  4. Let the speculation begin. Only a few guys were supposed to go pretty high. Javon Kinlaw?

  5. Matt was upset that the player told him, “ a new QB, another draft and free agency and that new coach won’t win a game more then the coach fired the year before.”

  6. Nice to see Rhule taking an in-depth, well-thought-out, concentrated approach to evaluating players.

  7. I’m going to hazard a guess that player will recall that conversation and post his thoughts about what Rhule said about him very soon.

  8. So basically to you players at the 2020 combine…if you were on an awkward elevator with Matt Rhule, he thinks your scum

  9. I can picture Matt extending his hand in the elevator and saying, “sell me this pen son.’

    Elevator pitch gone bad. We’ve all been there

  10. If true he can save a lot of time by riding elevators with draft prospects instead of wasting time like every other NFL team reviewing all their game film , watching workouts and spending time interviewing them at length .

  11. ain’t nobody want to play for the panthers…he probably acted like that so you wouldn’t draft him. mission accomplished.

  12. uh Ruble, no offense, but you were 5-11. And you and your organization decided Teddy Bridgewater was an option at QB, how I have no idea. I dont think he could break a pane of glass with a football. I dont think you are looking for the right things.

  13. He probably took his time getting on and off the elevator so coach said thanks for letting me know.

  14. For the comments about Kinlaw – anything he did last ear that makes you think he would have been a bad fit?
    If it was Kinlaw, it reflects poorly on Rhules’ evaulation, no?

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