Just as Thanksgiving marks the traditional start of the end-of-year holiday season, the NFL Scouting Combine marks the start of draft season. And just as retailers like to jump the gun and put the Christmas decorations out on Sept. 8, draftniks like to get an early start. Some of them are already preparing for 2016. Saner minds are preparing for a week of press conferences, weigh-ins and drills starting on Feb. 21 and -- thanks to the reruns on NFL Network -- continuing throughout Lent.
Every combine has unique elements, but most are pretty much the same. You can set your watch by the Rex Ryan press conference stampede. Famous college players will give press conferences from podiums, less famous ones will sit at roundtables with reporters and kickers will stare wide-eyed from darkened corners until someone interviews them for the pool report, which is the journalistic equivalent of a pity dance. At night, players warily eat chicken Caesar salads at Indianapolis restaurants, knowing that the table to their left consists of beat writers and the table to their right is full of Harbaughs, and everyone will notice a second helping of fried pickles.
Combines are so predictable that there are archetypes that we can count on meeting each and every year. The names change, but these players and coaches are as reliable a part of February as the groundhog. Here are the Five People You Meet in Indy at each combine, and what they will look like this year.