Do you kind of feel like your ability was just ready to come out?
“I had the game to do it, but I learned how to use my body, use my hands. Run like I’m supposed to, rush at a certain angle. I already had the tools, the power, the speed, but I learned certain moves, new moves. I learned from a real defensive tackle how to play defensive tackle. That worked really well for me. Coach Howard was a great defensive end coach, but he never played defensive tackle. He knew how to play, but he didn’t know the tricks. I needed to learn from a defensive tackle.”
Is there any regret, like, if I’d only been taught this sooner?
“Yeah. I told somebody, if I had learned how to play for the East-West game before my senior year, I would’ve been the No. 1 pick. I would’ve had so many sacks. I already had the ability. I would’ve thrown myself on the scene. I didn’t mess up, but I feel like, man…I wish I would’ve known. I would’ve been able to make so much more money, instead of hoping and waiting. But I’m glad I got drafted in sixth, I got my foot in the door. Now it’s my chance. It’s up to me to take it and run with it.”
I’m a former bad defensive lineman, so I get the wording, be as specific as possible: What’d you learn?
“I learned how to use my hands, really. I was really just going out and trying too bullrush people. I learned how to run at certain angle, how to clear my chest. Jon, they couldn’t touch me. If an offensive lineman can’t touch you, they can’t block you. I was unstoppable at the East-West game. I’m going to surprise a lot of people. I feel that haterism, and that’s going to be the fuel at the next level.”
There are some guys who go early but might not have the work ethic or motor to succeed at the next level, and they might feel like the work is done. Clearly you don’t feel that…
“Oh man, I can’t wait to get out there. OTAs, play ball. I have to shut a lot of people up, my brother and me. This whole time, that’s been our motivation. We’ve been having to prove a lot of people wrong. I’m ready to go out there.”
Last question: You sound like a different person from when we last talked in depth last fall; do you feel different?
“You know what, I feel confidence. I feel like I’m in a good position. I’m a Cardinal. I have a lot on my shoulders, I have a lot of work to do, I know. I’m having a good time today, but tomorrow I’m in the gym. It’s nowhere near over yet. I’m making more money in a year than most people make in three. But I have a lot of work to do. It’s not over yet. That’s how people get kicked off or traded after a year, because they feel that they’re in the league, and it’s all gravy. That’s what got me in the draft. I work hard. I know what I have to do, and I know that I just got drafted, but it’s my turn to go out and show what I can do.”