INDIANAPOLIS — Kevin O'Connell had to hustle Wednesday afternoon.
In the span of roughly two hours, the Vikings head coach bobbed and weaved his way through the Indianapolis Convention Center for a media car wash, holding court with numerous outlets.
First, there was an appearance on "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen's 9 to Noon show on KFAN. O'Connell then dashed to the set of NFL Network before he settled in at his 15-minute podium session.
A few more interviews were soon on the docket, including a walk-and-talk with Vikings.com as O'Connell headed back to his hotel for a quick break.
O'Connell's combine experience is a busy one, but it is vastly different than the first time he was here.
That would be back in 2008, when he was a quarterback from San Diego State who would eventually be a third-round pick by the Patriots.
On the walk back to his hotel, O'Connell commented on the differences between the combine from 2008 to now.
"With the way they changed the schedule, that's definitely one thing. These workouts are prime-time, on TV," O'Connell said. "We used to have to wake up and be ready to roll about 8 a.m. when it was time to run your 40[-yard dash]. That's one part of the process.
"Obviously when I came, it was at the old RCA Dome. So it was a little bit different," O'Connell added. "This is the perfect space with the convention center to Lucas Oil [Stadium] to the hotel, and the ability for the whole league to get here and connect. Every year gets better and better."
O'Connell's current week might have some of the same elements that it did in 2008. There are media interviews, sure, plus on-field workouts and, of course, interviews between prospects and teams.
The main difference now, O'Connell said, is that he's the one asking the questions instead of trying to answer them.
View photos at Head Coach Kevin O'Connell at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
He said he's tried to keep everything in perspective knowing that he's been on both sides of the process.
"It's one of those things where you look back on it and you know what your experience was like when you were here. It helps you kind of frame where these guys are at in the process," O'Connell said. "No matter how much they try not to show it, you know there's probably some nerves. They're trying to put their best foot forward in, really, the most important job interview of their life.
"You know that going into it, and you know how to ease their nerves in any way you can to try to see exactly the type of player or person you'd be adding to your team if you were able to draft that player or bring them aboard," O'Connell added. "A huge part of it is them knowing you are evaluating them as a player, a person, their background, all those things. But at the end of the day, you want to make them as comfortable as possible with us because that's an important part of the process."
O'Connell noted that the Vikings interview process has included plenty of film review, which gives prospects a chance to explain plays — good and bad — and allow O'Connell to get a glimpse into both their personality and cerebral abilities.
It's something he had to do back then and something he takes heavily into consideration now.
O'Connell isn't the only NFL head coach here in Indianapolis who has been here in multiple capacities.
Mike Vrabel (Titans), Dan Campbell (Lions) and Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals) were also here as players in their respective years.
Near the end of his walk, O'Connell was asked about his 40-yard dash from 2008. The clip made the rounds on social media earlier this week.
But at his first combine as a head coach, O'Connell has some bragging rights over the other three players-turned-head coaches who were invited to the combine.
O'Connell's time of 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash tops Vrabel (4.94), Campbell (4.86) and Kingsbury (4.76).
The Vikings head coach chuckles when asked to compare his time then to what he might be able to run now, one final inquiry into the difference between his experiences here in Indianapolis.
"Oh, man. If I could break about 5.5, I think I'd be happy," O'Connell said. "I got long strides but if you gave me a couple days to work on my start — I think if I would have started better back in 2008, I would have had a chance to break 4.6.
"Really, I was testing and training and thought I'd be in the 4.56-to-4.58 range," O'Connell added. "But 4.61 is what's going to be with me forever."
And with that, O'Connell showed off those wheels, onto the next stop of his packed schedule at the combine.