EDITOR'S NOTE:Kyle Lauletta was a three-year starter for Richmond and threw for more than 10,000 career yards, with a 64-percent completion mark — and he was named a HERO Sports All American in December. A native of Exton, Pennsylvania, he is now considered an NFL Draft lock, aided greatly by his performance during the week of the Senior Bowl — where he picked up overall MVP honors.
This weekend, he takes on the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
This is the second of a series of diaries (here's Diary No. 1) Lauletta will do in "as told to" form with HERO Sports senior writer Brian McLaughlin. Lauletta is one of several subjects who will periodically break down what it is like to be an NFL Draft prospect, day in and day out. He just wrapped up his training for the NFL Combine in Bradenton, Florida at IMG Academy. Lauletta is represented by Michael McCartney with Priority Sports and Entertainment. Lauletta met with all 32 teams in Mobile.
(As told Saturday) My parents are coming down to visit me for my last few days at IMG in Bradenton. In fact, I’m actually in the car – as we speak — driving up to the Tampa airport to pick them up. It’s going to be great to see them! They’re just coming down to see where I’ve been working out all this time. In a couple days when they head back to Philly I will be off to Indianapolis for the combine. After the combine, I’ll fly home to Philadelphia.
At this point, you’ve already put in all the work and lifted all the weights, and we’ve actually tapered down our running and lifting lately. Earlier we were running as many reps (of the 40-yard dash) as we wanted, maybe five or six each. Now we just try to get one or two runs with good times. We do the 10-yard dash and then the full 40. The goal is just to be completely healthy at the combine with no muscle fatigue. You never know … fresh legs might help improve your time at the Combine by a tenth of a second in the 40. You just want your body feeling fresh, but still explosive and moving like we want it to.
Lauletta with his parents, Kim and Joe, who came to Florida to visit this week (courtesy Kyle Lauletta)[/credit]
MENTALLY PREPARED FOR THE MEAT MARKET
(The Pittsburgh Steelers’) Josh Dobbs just came back to IMG to train, and he told the receivers here, “You guys will be floored. At the combine, you’ll run like eight routes and that’s it”. When we’re in Indy doing our throwing routine, it may not be many throws. But you have the tape from our college seasons, you have the Senior Bowl and you’ll throw more at the Pro Day. Throwing 100 balls isn’t always necessary. You can pretty much tell a lot about a quarterback from as few as five throws.
So this week I’m collecting all of my things and sending them home. Other than my time at the Senior Bowl I’ve been here in Bradenton since December. After the combine, I’ll be flying out to Philadelphia until March 9th and then I’m going to drive to Richmond that Friday for final prep for my Pro Day (March 13). That’s another thing we’ve worked on is our Pro Day script. We’ve refined the routine and scripted it to 50 or 60 throws. We scripted them to the tight end, the running back and the wide receivers. You know, hitch to the left, slant to the right, bench route to the left, curl to the right. I am looking forward to getting down to Richmond, get with my receivers and run through it all a few times to feel it out. We will decide which receiver will run which routes, that sort of thing.
Lauletta training with IMG academy students looking on (Credit: Kyle Lauletta)[/credit]
THEN ON TO PRO DAY
Players participating in our Pro Day have to be draft eligible, so I can’t throw to my Richmond teammates like (2017 1,000-yard receiver) Cortrelle Simpson or Dejon Brissett or Tyler Wilkins – who were my top three wide receivers. They’re all underclassmen. I am excited to hook back up with my tight end, Garrett Hudson. There are interesting rules where you can’t participate unless you’re within 30 or 50 miles of the school, so I can’t use my IMG buddies I’ve been throwing to for months either.
I look at all of this preparation in three phases – the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine and the Pro Day. They’re really equal portions of the evaluation process and I wouldn’t say the Senior Bowl was any more important than the Combine or Pro Day. In phase one (Senior Bowl), I was really pleased with my performance, but I still have to do well with these other two phases, and then hopefully I will be drafted. I think I’m ready to go. We’ve been training hard, and I’m ready for the next two phases – and then I’ll be able to head back home and relax a little before the draft.
Lauletta with IMG Academy's high school quarterbacks who are in training (Credit: Kyle Lauletta)[/credit]
THE WHISPER GAME – WHICH TEAM LIKES ME MOST?
I do hear some of the things that are said. But in the end, to me, it’s a waste of my energy and time if I really read into it. It all sounds great and reads well on paper but who really knows if Bill Belichick or any other coach loves me? Who knows? Maybe I’ll learn more at the NFL Combine. At IMG we had a nine-year veteran, Bryan Bulaga from the Green Bay Packers, talk to all of us about this. It was part of something IMG called “NFL Life”, where guest speakers like Pepper Johnson, who played with Lawrence Taylor and has the Super Bowl rings, talked to us about the process and NFL life in general.
Once when Bryan Bulaga was our guest speaker I asked him about the combine process. He told me he did several combine interviews and he had seven or eight in-depth interviews with teams, but with the Packers, he really only filled out a questionnaire. That was the only thing he heard from the Packers until they picked him in the first round. So, it’s cool to hear in the media that a team likes you, but you could have a team that hasn’t had many conversations with you draft you in the end. It’s a strange position to be in. I think down the stretch my agent will have a better feel for it. I am just focusing on what I can control.
Lauletta during the Senior Bowl (Credit: Senior Bowl) [/credit]
To me? If a team really shows interest, they might not want the others to know. I am sure there is a lot of gamesmanship that goes on. Projected fourth round picks sometime become priority free agents. You know, it’s similar to college recruiting. Who are you going to get that college scholarship from? Coming out of high school I really got my hopes up because of some things I heard from big schools and an early offer I received just off my film. So, I thought I was going to get a bunch of offers but it never happened. So now I’m guarding myself against that for the draft. I am confident I will put myself in a good position, but I want to stay level headed and not get too excited and just do the best I can.
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