Cornerback, South Dakota State University
What was your reaction once you got the call from the Cincinnati Bengals welcoming you to the NFL?
“At this point in the draft, I was pretty much thinking (I would be chosen in) the third, fourth or fifth round. I was waiting around, my agent and I were talking about college free agency and whatnot, and teams were calling me, but the Bengals finally called me (to tell me they picked me), and I was ecstatic. I was obviously very happy. It’s just an honor to be drafted into the NFL; it happened today. I’m ecstatic right now.”
Was your agent telling you it might be better not to get drafted since teams would have to bid for your services, or did you definitely want to hear your name called as a drafted prospect?
“He was saying, ‘If I get drafted, I get drafted,’ as he knows that was my dream since I was younger ... (This) seems like a perfect situation for me. They picked me up and I’m grateful for it.”
What is your coverage skill set like? Can you play man-to-man, have you played more zone, etc.?
“I play a little bit of both in college. I can play off, I can play press — full-on press with what they call the boundary corner (position) ... I played a lot of zone on third down and things like that, so I’m pretty acclimated to all kinds of coverage (life in) the NFL could bring.”
Was fellow Bengals draftee Ryan Finley your high school teammate? What do you think of you two being reunited in the NFL?
“He was. He was. I think it’s pretty crazy. We were both projected (to be selected) in the same rounds. He went in the fourth and I was like, ‘Wow, he went to the Bengals.’ I hit him up early (on the phone), and I was super happy for him. And then I was waiting all day, and the Bengals picked me up, and he called me right away and was pretty excited. My high school coach (also) called me, and he was pretty juiced too, so it was a pretty good situation that I can play football again with Ryan.”
What do you know about the Bengals? How much do you know about the guys you’ll be competing with in the secondary?
“I think it will be a little bit new to me. I know they have William Jackson at corner. He’s a pretty good player, I know that for sure, but I’m not really sure about the other corners. I know they have Jessie Bates at safety; it seems like he’s a good, young player as well. I guess I’ll find out more when I get there and I’ll probably do some research before I get there as well, so I guess we’ll see.”
Did you have any face time with any of the Bengals coaches?
“No face time at all, but I talked to them on the phone like three times today, and it’s kind of odd, as I never really talked to the Bengals throughout the whole draft process, Senior Bowl and the Combine — and things like that. So that was definitely different for me, because they weren’t a team that hit me up a lot throughout the process. But like I said, I’m super grateful to be a Cincinnati Bengal.”
We can hear the excitement in your voice; is this a “cloud nine” moment for you?
“It is. It honestly is. I mean, honestly, you can go in the first round or seventh round — as long as you can hear your name called on the NFL Network and come in and be a NFL player at this point, it doesn’t matter where you go or who your favorite team is ... You’re automatically a fan when you get drafted.”
There’s an old saying that it doesn’t matter how you get there, it matters what you do once you’re there. Do you feel like that fits your story today getting drafted by the Bengals in the seventh round?
“Exactly. That’s the whole story of my whole life ... I thought I would be drafted a lot higher in the NFL draft this year and (I wasn’t but) I have a way to create an opportunity for myself when I get to Cincinnati and I can’t wait for it.”