Leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, Steelers players and coaches will be sharing their Draft Day Memories, from the time they went to the NFL Scouting Combine, through the moment they were drafted. And in some cases, share what it was like when neither of those things happened. In this installment, Mike Mitchell shares his story.
Mike Mitchell – Second Round – 2009 – Ohio University"Not getting invited to the combine lights a fire under your behind. It makes you sad, makes you angry. I knew I would have a pro day at some point and that was going to be my NFL combine. Going into the experience all of the chips are against you when you don't get invited to the combine.
"It's hard to complain about being drafted in the second round, but the way I feel about myself if I would have went to the combine maybe I could have snuck into the first round. I just took it all as a blessing. God has a plan for all of our lives. I just try to focus on how I can improve, get better, and the things I can control in my life. I think it was a blessing. I met a lot of coaches that way, teams I don't play for. Those are some good, unique experiences I got. It's one of those things you wish you could have done so you can check all the boxes along the way, but I don't mind.
"There is a weird stat that I am the highest draft pick of our decade not invited to the combine. That is a blessing. I don't think of myself as that cool, but that is a pretty cool thing.
"My agent, brother and I sat down and made a highlight tape of my junior and senior year film and put it together. My agent sent it to all of the teams and we got a lot of calls. I think I had 12 teams at my pro day because of the tapes they were seeing. I was able to run a 4.39 at the pro day. It was cold out when I ran and pulled my hamstring. I jumped high and did things well and that is when the interest in me increased and I moved up draft boards.
"I ask teammates how many teams they visited during the draft process and they will say two or three teams. I actually went on 14 visits because I didn't go to the combine so teams were interested in interviewing me. That February and March I spent a lot of time in hotel rooms with the two suits I owned then, rotating them as I went to visit teams.
"When it came down to draft day we knew I moved up on the boards and thought I would go somewhere in rounds one through four, most realistically the fourth round.
"I remember I was sitting around and it was around the 45th pick and my agent called me and said the Chicago Bears had said they were going to take me at 49. I got real excited. I tried to calmly walk upstairs and get away from my family so they could watch it downstairs in the basement.
"They were on pick 47 and it comes across the screen the Oakland Raiders select safety Mike Mitchell, Ohio University. I am thinking to myself I know there is not another safety in this draft class named Mike Mitchell. I know there isn't another safety in the draft named Mike Mitchell that went to Ohio University. I put it all together. My agent called me and told me it came out of nowhere. Oakland was the last visit I went on. I wasn't sure they would take me that high. I was watching the draft at my brother's house because he had a bigger television and Oakland was calling my parent's house and they were panicking. But good thing they took me anyway.
Top photos of Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell.
"When I visited them they told me they really needed a safety. In the end I should have paid more attention to them. On the visit I met Mr. (Al) Davis and thought this guy forgot more football than I possess in my knowledge. That was one of the few visits I met the owner and that is probably why, because they were intent on drafting me.
"It's awesome to see your name there. It's really one of those things if you are a spiritual person it makes you humble and appreciate God and the blessings he can pour out in your life. Just to be selected was a huge blessing for my family. Football has allowed me to retire both of my parents, set my brother up, set my sister up and set myself up and all of the things any good kid would want to do for their family in their life.
"When I did get the call from them I was still excited. I can't lie. It was good to talk to Coach (Tom) Cable and Mr. Davis. I was ecstatic. I felt like I was on this journey with my father and immediate family for so long and for us to get that part of it accomplished, knowing I would be playing professional football and fulfilling that dream, I think I was relieved. Now my real goal to play and be one of the best in the game, still something I am working on, and have to get accomplished.
"That is one of the best gifts I was able to give my dad. We have been on this journey since I was six years old, yes six, he is a sick man. I told him I wanted to be a pro football player at six and we have been working on it ever since. He came up to me and said congratulations. He was proud of me. Just that, I knew I did a big thing for both of us. There weren't a lot of times when he said he was proud of me, so when he said that I knew it was a big moment.
"There is still a chip on my shoulder. I don't think it's ever knocked off. That is why I am the way I am, why I am so competitive. That chip is always there, especially coming from a smaller school. I just keep taking the negative comments and proving to those who have been behind me, my parents, my brother, proving them correct for always believing in me."