Oftentimes, friendships are formed when two people spend long periods of time together even when it wasn’t each party’s initiative to seek out that friendship. These bonds tend to materialize over time rather than simply willing them to be.
When asked about fellow teammate WR Calvin Austin III and how they have bonded together since being drafted by the Steelers, Pickens points to the NFL Combine as the starting point of their relationship.
“I kind of did know him a little bit in the combine because the receiver group, we were the first group to get to the combine,” Pickens said to reporters Monday, according to video via Steelers.com. “Really just every day being there, you know like when you be with somebody every day, it’s just like your kids. You just going to eventually know what they want to do, so that’s kind of how our bond kind of created. It wasn’t like no setup plan type.”
The NFL Combine can be a long, draining process for draft prospects hoping to make the successful transition from college to the pros. Their mornings start early with breakfast and medical checks and then they transition to the media portion of interviews, where they have to answer numerous questions (from yours truly) about their time in college, their hobbies and lifestyle, and any potential issues that occurred in the past that they have to vet in front of hundreds of cameras.
On top of that, the NFL teams put them through extensive interviews to know the players inside-out. After the interview process is done, the prospects must be able to test to the best of their capabilities in the various athletic baseline tests the Combines implements every year as well as perform well in the on-field workout in front of all 32 teams, as well as millions watching from home.
The process can be grueling having spoken to many of my former Florida athletes during and after their time in Indianapolis, but they still manage to make the most of their time there by coming together as a position group. Pickens made a note of that above, saying that he got to know Calvin Austin III, basically doing everything together as they are herded by NFL personnel from one site to the next.
Developing these friendships with prospects going through the exact same thing as you can be a relieving feeling for those who may be overwhelmed by it all as teams try to decide if you can visually as well as mentally hold up. Both Pickens and Austin crushed their respective performances in Indianapolis, testing well on the field and doing enough in interviews to convince Pittsburgh to draft them. Now, the two share the field as teammates and will be expected to provide the offense with a spark in the receiving game this season.