Editor’s note: It’s time for the NFL Draft! Bookmark our Road to the Draft for live trackers, video, position breakdowns, retrospectives, mock drafts and more
ALAMEDA – Keith McGill didn’t have a great 2012. A shoulder injury ended his junior season at Utah before it started. Then he got arrested for suspicion of DUI and possession of stolen property in Sept. 2012.
Not a good situation for a defensive back with NFL aspirations. McGill considered it rock bottom, and started working his way back up.
“I sat down with the coaches and talked about determining where I wanted my life to go,” McGill said on a conference call. “I made some mistakes. I realized that everything could be taken away in a flash, and that the window was closing. There comes a point in time in your life where you make a decision to become a man or remain a boy. That’s what I did before the 2013 season. It got me in the situation I am in now.”
McGill found himself in a great spot Saturday. He was selected No. 116 overall by the Raiders, with a realistic shot to make an impact in future seasons if he works hard and stays focused on football.
Veterans Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers are on one-year contracts, potentially leaving a starting spot open in 2015.
Standing 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds, McGill has ideal size for a physical cornerback. His past isn’t typical of Raiders imports, either through the draft or free agency. They prefer quality character guys with strong internal motivation. Prior to 2013, McGill’s track record doesn’t reflect those qualities.
The Raiders have taken some character risks, surrounding them with practice-junkies and little tolerance for off-field antics.
They did so last season with defensive tackle Stacy McGee, who was arrested for DUI and marijuana possession in separate incidents, has done well after being draft in the sixth round last season.
General manager Reggie McKenzie said last year that he looked McGee in the eye and could tell the Okalahoma product was focused on football. McGill said he had a similar exchange with McKenzie during an official visit before the draft.
“Definitely. He understood that everything was behind me,” McGill said. “I looked him in the eyes just as he did to me, and now I’m an Oakland Raider.”
McGill answered some tough questions with class, and insists that his troubles won’t recur.
“All that stuff was years ago, two years ago,” McGill said. “I’ve been trying to stay clean and I’ve been trying to show everybody that that was the past and that’s exactly what it was. Obviously, that’s going to come up because it’s a concern for teams. But all the teams that passed on me they are going to realize it’s a big mistake and the Oakland Raiders are going to realize that it’s probably a really good draft pick.”
McGill feels likes he’s grown up as a person and a player due to past mistakes. He also credits his three-year old daughter for helping adjust his priorities.
“It helped me a lot,” McGill said. “She was right next to me today (when I got the call). Nothing could make me happier to be in the situation I have now.”