Chris Moore, Brian Jones and Damon Amendolara spoke with numerous first-round NFL draft picks at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday, including Blake Bortles (QB), who was drafted third overall by Jacksonville.
“It’s awesome,” the Oviedo, Fla., native said. “It’s the only place I could’ve dreamed up. Being able to go to Jacksonville (and) stay in Florida – it’s a dream come true. I can’t wait.”
Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack went two picks later to Oakland at fifth overall. Not bad for a guy from the MAC.
“That’s the thing,” Mack said. “I knew I wanted to go out and dominate in every phase of the game (last year). I knew that I had to go out and show that I could be a man on the field – no matter who I played.”
Atlanta took offensive tackle Jake Matthews with the very next pick. Matthews played in both a pro-style and no-huddle offense at Texas A&M.
“I think I got a little bit of experience in every offense,” Matthews said. “I’m excited to play for them. I think they’re a great organization. I’m fired up that they picked me.”
Matthews’ college teammate, wide receiver Mike Evans, went seventh overall to Tampa Bay.
“I was in a no-huddle offense, so I think I’ll be very energized when I come to the league,” Evans said. “Playing for Coach Sumlin was great. He was hard on me, hard on all of our guys, and he helped me grow up as a man. That offense was great.”
Justin Gilbert went eighth to Cleveland, where he’ll join shutdown corner Joe Haden.
“I’m looking forward to being a part of that defense and learning from the veteran guys,” Gilbert said. “I’m just ready to get there and start playing.”
North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron rounded out the top 10 and will be joining Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush in Detroit.
“I’m happy,” Ebron said. “I plan on hopefully being another outlet for Matthew Stafford. It’s a blessing. I cannot wait to go there.”
Taylor Lewan, meanwhile, was the first Big Ten player selected. He went 11th overall to Tennessee and is said to have a quirky personality.
“I have an outgoing personality,” Lewan clarified. “I play football. I’m here to play football – not to be quirky. I’m here to play football for the Tennessee Titans. I could not be more excited right now.”
Odell Beckham Jr., who went 12th to the Giants, will be reunited with former college teammate Rueben Randle.
“Being able to come here and have your big brother there, there’s just so much you can learn from him,” Beckham said. “He can teach me the ropes again like he did back at LSU. I’m excited to be here.”
Elsewhere in the NFC, Kyle Fuller became the latest member of his family to play in the NFL, as his brothers, Corey and Vincent, were drafted in 2013 and 2005, respectively.
“We all definitely grew up dreaming of playing football, playing on the highest level,” said Fuller, who was taken by the Bears. “So far, we’ve been blessed to be able to do that.”
Ryan Shazier, on the other hand, was the first of two Buckeyes to get drafted in the first round. He went 15th overall to Pittsburgh – the team he grew up rooting for.
“For me being at linebacker and going to the greatest franchise in history, nothing (could) be better,” Shazier said. “Getting this opportunity is amazing”
Another linebacker, C.J. Mosley, was taken by Baltimore two picks later at No. 17.
“It’s a blessing,” Mosley said. “I come from a big powerhouse defense with great linebackers, (and I’m) going right to another great defense with great linebackers and a team that’s hungry to get back in the playoffs and win a Super Bowl. I’m ready to be in that type of environment. That’s all I’m used to at Alabama being under Coach Saban.”
Shazier and Mosley will have to chase down players like Brandin Cooks, who posted the fastest 40-time at the combine. Cooks will be the latest toy in Sean Payton’s offense.
“I’m excited to catch balls from Drew Brees,” said Cooks, who caught 128 balls at Oregon State last year. “They let that ball fly over there in New Orleans, and I’m excited.”
Safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix was the very next pick. He went 21st overall to the Packers.
“It’s very fun, it’s very exciting, it’s a dream come true,” Clinton-Dix said of being drafted. “Growing up and watching it on TV all the time – to actually be here is a blessing.
Clinton-Dix, a Florida native who played at Alabama, was asked if he had any cold-weather gear for Lambeau Field.
“I got it ready,” he said.