Jordan Poyer has always had something to prove.
At Oregon State, he transformed himself from what Coach Riley described as a “scrawny kid out of Astoria” to an All-American Corner. In four years, he took that chip on his shoulder and flipped it to his favor. This weekend, he's putting that chip to work in a bid for next level opportunity.
On Tuesday, he called me from Phoenix, Arizona, where he's been training since early January,
"Everybody's dream is to get to the NFL, but you don't realize you can really do it until you're actually out on the field and people are telling you you can make it."
Anything is possible in Jordan's mind, but even with all the accolades, there are still doubts. “I'd heard from a lot of scouts that I need to improve my forty time, my stance, my start, my get out. That's what I've been focusing on personally, and a lot of running technique.”
To train for the combine, Poyer returned to the very spot which transformed him last summer into one of the biggest defensive threats in college football, Fischer Sports. “I came out before fall camp started and worked out. My mom paid for me to come out. I liked the staff and wanted to come back.”
Leaving the familiarity of his team mates behind, he's been putting in some hard days with a new group of workout buddies, including CB Aaron Hester (UCLA), RB Lonnie Pryor (Florida State) and OT Lane Johnson (Oklahoma).
“There were some hard days in the middle of all this. They were pushing us hard. Pulling sleds, running up hills. But we all had nothing else to do out here to grind everyday. We've all come together pretty close.”
That's not to say he's out of contact with his OSU family; Beavers secondary coach Rod Perry, whose NFL coaching credits include the Rams, Colts and Panthers, has served as his confidante of late.
“He's given me great guidance and always checks in on me. He's been keeping my hopes up that I'm going to be alright.”
In Indianapolis, Jordan will compete against some of the best defensive backs in the nation. Will he be sizing them up?
"You're always going to size everyone up, but at the end of the day you've got to look at it as though you've got to perform the best you can. If you see somebody else run a certain way and they do a good job in it you can't sit there and try to copy that because you've been working so hard on your own things."
Before the drills come the questions: rounds of interviews with coaches and scouts, not to mention psychological tests. Poyer is ready.
"They'll ask a lot of personal questions. About your family. How you grew up. Your character. They're investing a lot of money in you and want to get to know you."
He expects things to get personal, and nothing is off limits.
"Every scout I've talked to has asked about the incident I had at the bar last February, and I understand how to answer that. I think it sinks it at some point in college that the decisions you make off the field can impact your future. That incident was something I learned from. It shows you how much stuff can get blown up, but the thing is to learn from it. "
On Tuesday the nation will see the fruits of his speed training. Now if anyone knows how to work a crowd in moments of triumph and pain, it's Jordan Poyer.
"You want to know my forty? Well, my ten and twenty split times are pretty good, but I'm going to keep that to myself. You'll have to watch Tuesday," he laughs before saying goodbye.
Draft Analysis (NFL.com)
Smooth athlete with solid overall size. Has fluid hips to turn and run with receivers and quick feet to undercut an out route. Intelligent corner, who transitions smoothly out of his back pedal. Solid hands for the interception, extends to grab passes in front of receivers. Fights for 50/50 balls, competes even when he doesn’t have great position against a larger receiver. Aggressive, will attack in the run game. Brings some pop into tackles when able to line up his target. Experience as both a man and zone corner. Willing to take the ball straight upfield as a returner and has enough speed to break it with good blocking.
Average size and strength for an outside corner. Plays well off the line of scrimmage, but doesn't display the skills to press. Doesn’t disengage from blocks consistently. Backpedal is high and slow, receivers eat up his cushion too quickly. Recovery speed is not exceptional, doesn’t close on seam throws and stays behind receivers with average speed. Misses too many tackles in the open field by throwing his shoulder. Lacks a second gear or great elusiveness as a returner, and has muffed the occasional punt.