For a prospective NFL Draft pick, the process has to be grueling. Not only are you preparing yourself physically and mentally for the NFL Scouting Combine, Pro Days and pre-draft interviews with teams, but you also have to deal with all the external "noise".
Noise of draft experts and their projections, mock drafts and even the occasional person telling you that you can't accomplish your goals.
For OLB Travis Feeney from Washington, he has plenty to prove after he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 6th round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
"The process has been really long — longer than what I thought it would be," Feeney told Adam Jude of the Seattle Times. So how does a potential draft pick get through such a grueling process? Block out the distractions. "I told my agent, ‘Don't even tell me what the projections are. I don't want to hear it,'" Feeney said.
When the Steelers drafted Feeney on Day 3 of the NFL Draft, experts expounded on the overall value of the pick. On paper, there are some issues. Feeney is lightning fast -- running a sub 4.5 40-yard dash leading up to the draft -- but has a very thin frame to be an outside linebacker at the professional level. On top of his frame, he has battled shoulder injuries, to both shoulders, throughout his career. Nonetheless, it didn't lessen his expectations for himself on Draft day.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter where you're drafted; it just matters that you get on the team and show what you got," he said. "I don't talk that much ... but whoever passes on me they're going to regret it. Whoever gets me, they're getting a gem."
The Steelers have seen another 6th round draft pick become a dominant force, and he is currently the league's best wide receiver in Antonio Brown. Could Feeney be the next player to shine as a late round draft pick who turns into an every day force in the NFL? Experts and coaches certainly think he has the skills and potential to do so.
"The NFL is foaming at the mouth trying to find rangy linebackers to match up with modern offenses, and Feeney could be that type of player," Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke wrote.
"He's just really, really fast," UW coach Chris Petersen said this week. "This game is all about speed, and it's probably more all about speed at the next level. So I think that's what gives him such a good chance; he can cover ground with the best of them."
Feeney seems to have something to prove, and a chip on his shoulder ready to prove all those teams who passed on him leading up to the 6th round what kind of player they could have taken. The Steelers took a chance on Feeney, and he seems determined to prove they made the right choice in 2016 and beyond.