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NFL draft: Q&A with Oregon cornerback Terrance Mitchell

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Feb 25, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oregon Ducks defensive back Terrance Mitchell participates in pass catching drills during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

Oregon cornerback Terrance Mitchell has been told what he cannot do for years, so excuse him if he no longer cares about what other people think.

Mitchell is expected to be selected in the upcoming NFL draft, but not as a high pick. In fact, Mitchell requested an evaluation by the NFL draft board, and even though he didn't receive a favorable evaluation, he decided to forgo his senior year anyway. Mitchell was doubted coming out of high school, had to earn playing time at Oregon, and entering the NFL is just another battle he intends to win.

Despite not having a lot of pre-draft hype, Mitchell spoke with Shutdown Corner about the challenges he has faced so far, and how he plans to overcome those obstacles in the NFL:

Shutdown Corner: How has your pre-draft preparation been going? 

Terrance Mitchell: The whole process has been cool, but it started off a little frustrating, starting with the combine. I didn’t run the time I wanted, but I did have the top 3-cone and top shuttle times of all the DBs in the country, so that was something to be proud of. Once I came back to my Pro Day to better my time, I messed up my hamstring running at my pro day. I had a 4.52, and I only ran one time. I knew I could do better. I had just worked out for the Colts and the Raiders last Saturday (workout at the high school he attended), and my best time was a 4.43.

SDC: How is your hamstring now?

TM: I’m feeling good. I’ve been getting good rehab at this place called “Results." They kind of pinpointed all the things I needed to work on to build it up. I’m feeling good.

SDC: How frustrating has your lack of pre-draft attention been?

TM: The thing that was frustrating, hearing and looking at where they have me placed as far as my ranking, I am just upset about that because I’m not quite sure what they were going off of. At DB, you don’t want to give up touchdowns, but last year I didn’t give up a touchdown. I figured I should be pretty high based off that. There’s a lot of political things that go into it that I’m aware of. That is one thing that that is frustrating, having to sit behind guys that I know I’m better than, but I’m going to have my opportunity to show that on the field once a team picks me up.

SDC: What about the pre-draft assessment? What did you think of that? 

TM: I don’t really want to speak on that too much.

SDC: Why did you come out early despite the assessment?

TM: The NFL has always been a dream of mine. Once I was draft eligible, I felt like I accomplished a lot in my three years playing, going to the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and finishing up at the Alamo Bowl. I dominated throughout my entire career, and I felt like it was time to go. I felt it was time to test the waters in the NFL.

SDC: Was there a part of you that thought your draft stock could increase if you stayed another year?

TM: The opportunity was there. I think in some cases it works. It depends on the relationship you have with the coaches at your school. It was just a better decision for me to go ahead and leave.

SDC: You recently at the opportunity to meet Ronnie Lott. What was it like working with a Hall of Famer?

TM: It was a great experience working with him. Just being in his presence, somebody you’ve seen a lot of highlights on. Being able to be right with him was kind of cool, and cool to get some pointers from him.

SDC: What was your biggest takeaway from working with him?

TM: Just being aggressive. The kind of a person he is, we talked a lot of football. At my position, if you’re not low, you’re going to lose. That was the real key. He definitely put me on the smart points of the game.

SDC: Did he show you his finger?

TM: Ha, ha, ha. I saw it, but I figured it was just regular. I didn’t even look.

SDC: How do you think the press coverage you played at Oregon translates to the NFL?

TM: In the NFL, there are a lot of great receivers, and being able to get your hands on them early can help your whole team and defensive line. Press coverage is something the NFL has been doing for a long time, going way back to changing their rules from bump-and-run. That’s something that has been around the game for a long time, and it fits in my game. College is a little like that. They’re trying to make the game softer where you can’t get your hands on em, but I think the NFL is a game where press coverage is played a lot.

SDC: You were overlooked coming out of high school, redshirted as a freshman, and now you are battling to get into the NFL. Does it seem like you are always being overlooked?

TM: Yes sir. That’s just how it’s always been for me, but I’m kind of used to it. God puts people through certain situations to make them stronger. I think it only makes me stronger, every obstacle. It’s just the story of my life. I’m real used to it now. The only thing I can control is myself and working hard to get better.

SDC: How do you deal with being constantly overlooked?

TM: I control my work, I get better myself, and I chop their hands off when I play against them. It’s just that simple. I keep working and kill them. Another thing that keeps me cool is every time things didn’t work out for me, God always worked it out. For example, I ran a 4.6 at the combine, but I came back last week and ran a 4.4. That kind of stuff keeps me on track. It’s working for me, and I got to keep working myself.

SDC: How do you feel about playing special teams or contributing as a nickel back?

TM: I’m willing to do whatever I got to do to get on the field. I heard special teams is a place where you have to put a little time in to get on the field in the NFL. I’m prepared for that. I like special teams. I feel like I could be a great returner.

SDC: You don’t want to be a gunner?

TM: I can do a gunner, but I just want to show teams what I could do with the ball in my hands. A couple of times I got a pick. I could really bring it back to high school.

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Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at NFLAnwar@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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