INDIANAPOLIS — Linebackers were on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for the penultimate day of the 2018 NFL Combine, and Rams assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Barry was down on the turf with them.
In fact, Barry ran one of the drills on Sunday afternoon, getting a true up-close-and-personal look at the game’s incoming rookies.
“The thing that’s great for me is you actually get to stand right next to a guy,” Barry said on Sunday. “So you’re not watching it on film, like we will when we go back to L.A. We’re not watching it even from the stands or the suite. We’re actually down on the field standing right next to a guy, seeing how he competes. We get a true, hands-on feel. So it’s a nice advantage where we’re allowed to be down on the field, watching these guys compete.”
Being down on the field and instructing during the Combine is a task that fits right in with Barry’s personality.
“I can’t stand still and just be quiet and watch a guy,” he said. “I’ve got to all of a sudden start coaching a drill, even if it’s a drill that I’m not running. But I mean, the energy down there is phenomenal. So I’m all about energy, I love it. And to be able to just be hands on with those 42 guys that we had — we got to watch them [get measured by] height and weight, we got to watch them do bench press. But now we’re actually down on the field with them. So that was great.”
A significant part of the advantage of being on the field is seeing how each player responds in a competitive situation.
“I know it’s not a game setting — but you get to see how a guy gets himself ready when you’re down on the field next to him,” Barry said. “[E]ven though it’s not true competition, they’re all competing down there to do the best that they can do in that drill. So you get to see a guy, look in his eyes, and see how he competes."
And not only is it a competitive situation, but it’s also one inherently filled with pressure.
“Not that the lights came on for a game, but the lights came on. This is a job interview for these kids,” Barry said. “This is, in their athletic careers, the biggest job interview they’ve ever participated in. So to be able to be down on the floor with them while they’re competing, look them in the eye and see how they get jacked up — or how they don’t get jacked up — I think it’s a nice window that we as coaches get to have.”