As the 2013 NFL Draft gets underway on Thursday at Radio City Music Hall in New York, the spotlight will shine brightly on the million dollar bonus babies with elite talent that warrants a first round pick.
Meanwhile, lurking in the shadows are the guys just hopeful to get a shot in an NFL training camp. Whether it be with the 254th overall pick or as a free-agent, to them, it does not matter.
In the latter group sits former Boise State defensive tackle Mike Atkinson.
At 6-foot-0, 308-pounds, Atkinson says that he has been in contact with “15 or 16 teams,” adding that he has worked out for the Detroit Lions.
But despite the fact that his childhood dream is about to play out, he described the lead-up to the draft as somewhat frustration, further elaborating that he is a little nervous as he awaits his fate.
As Atkinson continues to recover from an ACL injury he suffered on Nov. 3 against San Diego State, he says that he is well ahead of schedule in the recovery process and approximately four months away from getting back to full strength.
Still, it has no doubt impacted his draft status.
Atkinson has been told that he had a 90-95 percent chance of getting drafted prior to his injury. Likely “between the 3rd and 5th rounds,” he continued.
Now, he is just crossing his fingers that someone calls his name in the “6th or 7th round,” adding the free-agent route seems to be the most likely.
As I talked with him on morning of the first round, he continued to reflect on what might have been before he quickly stopped in mid-sentence to remind himself of what he has.
Atkinson recalled the time when football was almost taken from him. As a sophomore, he was suspended by Boise State head coach Chris Petersen following an arrest for DUI. A life changing moment, Atkinson explained how his comeback from that event has no doubt helped him overcome the adversity his injury has imposed on him.
So no matter when his name is called or what team calls it, Atkinson says it will be “a relief.”
Simply asking for a shot to make an NFL roster, he finished by saying, “let me show you what I can do.”
- “Big Mike,” as he referred around the Boise State football offices, says that former Broncos Tyrone Crawford and Chase Baker have offered him advice throughout the process. Last year, Crawford was drafted 81st overall by the Dallas Cowboys, while Baker inked a free-agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings.
- Atkinson says that he was able to do d-line drills during his workout with the Lions. Atkinson says his agent, who is also a physical therapist, has encouraged him to participate in drills as long as his knee feels up to it.
- A native of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Atkinson has been training in Detroit, Michigan, but he says the he will head home this weekend to watch the draft.
— Jay Tust (Follow on Twitter: @KTVBSportsGuy)