Despite coming from a FCS program, Aaron Mellette is turning heads with every stage of the draft process, erasing any doubt that comes along with the small-school label.
Aaron put up video game-like numbers at Elon, totaling 1,408 yards on 97 catches for 18 touchdowns. With underrated speed and unquestionable toughness, Mellette is a player to watch as the draft approaches.
Read on for my interview with Aaron Mellette.
Ryan Alfieri: So you’re less than two weeks away from the draft, what has this process been like?
Aaron Mellette: I take it one day at a time; I try not to get too high or too low over the different phases of the NFL process. I try to stay out of the media, the mock drafts and things of that nature, keep going and keep my eye on the prize.
RA: You’re from Elon, which is a great program down there in Carolina, but it’s not exactly Alabama or LSU in being a big-time football factory. Is it encouraging to see other smaller-school receiver prospects like Brian Quick (who you played against) and Vincent Jackson get drafted early and succeed in the NFL?
AM: I’ve heard a lot about how guys from my level can’t make it to the NFL and that it prevents us [from getting picked] early, but it would be [as] great [of a] reward as if I came from an FBS school.
RA: What do you think is the best aspect of your game that you would bring to an NFL team?
AM: Just my ability to make big plays. Either going across the middle or going deep, a lot of NFL teams look for that, and that’s something I bring to the table.
RA: You mentioned going over the middle—it’s probably one of the best aspects of your game. Does it take a special mentality to go over the middle and be ready to take a hit? Not many guys are willing to do that.
AM: Yeah, it takes a special mentality to go across that middle where you’ve got linebackers waiting for you. It’s part of the game and that’s one of the dirty parts—getting rocked, and a lot of people don’t like that.
It’s just like for a running back, it takes a type of mentality to run between the tackles every other play and whatnot. I pride myself to go across the middle and not worry about getting hit and secure the football.
RA: I look at you and you kind of remind me of Anquan Boldin. Would you agree with that comparison?
AM: You mean a big, physical receiver like that?
RA: Yeah, a guy that goes over the middle like you do.
AM: Yeah, I can see that. I don’t mind comparing myself to Anquan (laughs). I see what people are saying, as far as me being a guy who can catch that ball.
RA: Way earlier in the draft process, a lot of people looked at you, looking to pick apart your game. Some weren’t sure if you had that elite speed like a Tavon Austin, and then you turned around and ran a really nice time at the combine (4.45). Do these outside things put a chip on your shoulder as you go through this?
AM: I definitely have a chip on my shoulder. When people tell me I’m not fast, I hate when I hear that. I know I’m fast, and I know on game day I play even faster than what they think. They see me in person and say, “Wow, this guy’s faster than what we thought.”
I also [keep a chip on shoulder] because of all of the FBS teams that missed out on me when they had the chance. I just want to prove that I can compete with all these other guys.
RA: I read that you didn’t start playing football until your sophomore year in high school, is that correct?
AM: Yep, that’s when I started JV football.
RA: You were actually a big basketball player, right?
AM: Yes, yes I was, that was my favorite sport.
RA: Does you background in basketball help your game in terms of catching the ball, boxing out and getting good position?
AM: What my basketball skill set does is make me a better football player, like Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, all these guys that played tight end. The athleticism they get from basketball translates to football very well.
RA: So where are you going to be watching the draft?
AM: I’ll be at my aunt’s house. We’re going to have a cookout on the day of the draft. We’re going to have everybody hanging around together, watching it and [seeing] how it unfolds.
RA: That’s awesome. Thanks for taking the time to talk, Aaron, and good luck the rest of the way.
AM: Thank you.