The Chiefs took Powe in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He arrived at mini-camp about a week later. Powe, like all rookies, was put through a conditioning test. Veteran players from Glenn Dorsey to Tamba Hali looked on.
Powe laughs when looking back a year later. He readily admits he was intimidated. He was tense. Not until his second week of camp did he feel comfortable.
But such is life for an NFL rookie; a life Brandon Bolden, Kentrell Lockett, Bradley Sowell, Bobby Massie and Wayne Dorsey will soon realize. The seven-round 2012 NFL Draft is set to open tonight at 7 p.m.
“If I had any advice, I’d probably tell them just to be humble,” Powe said. “Don’t run your mouth too much. Don’t be one of those guys that comes in there talking like you’ve already been there. Get close to your coach, get in your playbook and always be attentive of everything around you. Don’t engage in a lot of conversation because of lot of those guys can be, as Coach (Houston) Nutt used to say, locker-room lawyers.”
Ever since Ole Miss wrapped a 2-10 season with a loss to in-state rival Mississippi State in November, draft-eligible players have been working out in various locations across the country in preparation for the draft.
Take Bolden, for example. He spent considerable time in Boca Raton, Fla., strengthening his fractured ankle, an injury he suffered early in his senior season. NFL Draft Bible projects Bolden as a mid-round selection.
“Ideal situation, what I would love to happen, I’d love to be a (New Orleans) Saint,” Bolden, a Louisiana native, said. “That’s any kid from Louisiana’s dream, to play for the Saints. Your whole family could see you. Your family, friends, everybody from high school, people that said you wouldn’t amount to anything.
“You can just throw it in their face, and you can do it in your home state. That would be the ideal situation. But like I told a few guys earlier, I’m a Saints fan until draft day.”
Lockett, Sowell hearing similar projections:
NFLdraftscout.com has Bolden, as well as Sowell, as a late-to-undrafted pick. The same website lists Lockett as a likely free agent, ranked No. 41 out of 133 defensive ends.
Lockett tore his ACL in September of 2010 against Fresno State. He was slowed his senior season due to the injury, and is likely considered a priority free agent.
“People are just trying to see basically if I’m healthy, is the knee back to where it needs to be in order to play football on the next level,” Lockett said. “I feel better. No knee brace. I feel that’s a tremendous step ahead. I got away from it. And by getting away from it, that made me mentally stronger, and by being mentally stronger I could go back to doing what I’m used to doing. That’s playing football and being weird and awkward on the field. That’s just me.”
As early as Tuesday, Sowell was taking phone calls from the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Bears, the Indianapolis Colts, the Buffalo Bills and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I’m actually hearing really good stuff. All in all, I’ve talked to every single team, and they all seem to like me,” Sowell said. “Well, they act like they do. I think I’ve got a good chance of getting drafted, or at least get signed by somebody. So, I’m excited and as nervous as can be.”
The Buccaneers have shown the most interest, going so far as to fly Sowell in for a visit with head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik.
“There’s been a lot (of teams) that have said they really like me. But right now, it’s probably the Bucs,” he said. “It seems like they like me the most. But I’ve talked to a lot of people. They’ve said don’t pay attention to that because you never know what another team has in store for you. You never know if another team is going to select you out of the blue. Right now, I’m just wherever.”
Massie a first round pick?
Massie, who has spent months preparing in Cleveland, Ohio, is sure to be the first former Rebel taken in the draft, possibly as early as tonight. ESPN NFL analyst Mel Kiper has Massie ticketed to the Super Bowl champion New York Giants with the last pick in the first round, No. 32.
“For whatever team that drafts me, they’ll get a guy who’ll come out and work hard every day,” Massie said. “I love this game. It’s really all I want to do. It’s my dream to play in the NFL. You’ll never see a bad day out of me. I come to work every day. I’m just hungry for it. I want it.”
Massie opted to forgo his senior season at Ole Miss for early entry into the draft.
“It was more for personal reasons,” Massie said of his decision to leave school early. “My mom’s going through hard times back home. I have a son. I need to provide for him. It’s just a personal goal of mine. I just felt it was my time to move on.
“I didn’t want to play with a new coach, because I came in through Coach Nutt and (former Ole Miss offensive line) Coach (Mike) Markuson. When they left, I guess it was time for me to go.”
Dorsey “blessed” by draft process:
Dorsey, a Baltimore, Md., product, has also heard late-to-undrafted projections. But he’s not sweating the draft too much. Actually, he simply feels blessed to be in this position, inching closer to his dream of playing professional football.
“I’ve been hearing from a pretty good amount of teams, man. I’m just patiently waiting,” he said. “A lot of teams interested, wanting to know if I’m healthy and how I’m feeling. Just patiently waiting. I’m ready to end the whole process, really.”
Dorsey had surgery in October to repair a broken arm suffered in a loss to Alabama last season. He’s talked to his hometown Ravens some, as well as the Giants and the Minnesota Vikings.
“I’m just blessed to be in this situation,” he said. “There’s not a lot of players out there coming off a major injury and still have a lot of interest from NFL teams. I’m blessed to say that I’ll be able to play NFL football and do it at a high level.
“I feel better than I ever have. My arm hasn’t given me any trouble. It’s so much of a blessing for me. I always thought I’d have some sort of complication after the surgery, but it hasn’t given me any trouble, any pain. I’m just anxious to get it going, man.”
Sowell house hunting:
Of course, for all draft-eligible former Rebels, there are other factors to consider when preparing for draft day.
Like, say, finding a safe area for one’s family.
“I am pretty overwhelmed,” Sowell said. “For me, the thing that’s overwhelming is I have to move my wife and my kid. Most guys, they want to go see what the city’s going to be like. Me, I’ve got to find a safe area for my wife and my kid and all that. That’s the most stressful part.”
And then there’s this: “My daughter has so many clothes, it’s not even funny. I’m going to have to rent a U-Haul just for the clothes,” Sowell said.
The pressures of draft day can weigh a player down. Again, Powe can relate. He chose to spend the weekend-long process with his family. Others play video games. Or watch a movie. Or take a walk outside.
As Powe described the day, it’s “very nerve-wracking.”
“You have a lot of people in your ear,” he said. “You have guys saying this and saying that. I went on a couple of visits, so of course I was hearing coaches saying they may do this. It’s very nerve-wracking, ‘cause you really don’t know. You’re just hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.”