Bronco Beat

Jay Ajayi says he’s the top tailback in the NFL Draft

Former Boise State tailback Jay Ajayi held a media teleconference Tuesday in advance of this week’s NFL Draft, which is Thursday (first round), Friday (second and third rounds) and Saturday (fourth through seventh rounds).

Here are some highlights:

– Ajayi is considered somewhere between the third- and seventh-best back in this draft class, behind projected first-rounders Todd Gurley of Georgia and Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin. But Ajayi isn’t conceding anything. “I feel that I am at the top of this class. I believe that I am the best running back in this class and the most complete back in this class. That’s really what my mindset is. I always want to strive to be the best. I don’t think I would be doing myself justice or this game justice if I went out on the football field not trying to be the best.”

– He said his surgically repaired knee is sound. He was injured while redshirting in 2011 but recent reports have indicated that some NFL teams are concerned. “It definitely caught me by surprise,” he said. “At the same time, I knew I had an injury in 2011 and I knew that it would probably be something teams would look at just because it’s something, if you have an injury, at the combine you have to get it checked out. I knew it was a possibility that a team would ask me about my knee. I was just surprised at how big it really got. ... I can’t control that and I can’t control what teams think. I can only control what I can do. I know how my knee feels. I know it feels healthy.”

– Ajayi went to London last week to promote the NFL Draft. It was his first time in the country of his birth since the family moved to Texas when he was 7. He came back with a British accent that was obvious through the teleconference. “It’s really funny. I was over there and just constantly being around British people ... my accent slowly started to creep out. Now it’s very natural for me to be talking like this.” He enjoyed the trip, which he got to share with his dad. “It was really exciting to go back,” he said. “... I got to see a lot of family and family friends who still live there. I also got to enjoy going back to my childhood home as well.”

– There’s a decent chance that Ajayi will play a game in London during his NFL career. “That would be a very special occasion for me,” he said. This year’s lineup: Dolphins-Jets, Jaguars-Bills and Chiefs-Lions.

– Ajayi will watch the draft this week at his family’s home in Plano, Texas. He has family coming in from all over the country and Canada. “It’s going to be a party at my house regardless,” he said. “It’s going to be a joyous time. ... That’s the most important thing, spending that moment (with family).”

– On meeting with teams: “All of them said I have the potential to become a three-down back and I just need to continue to work on everything and push myself to get to that.”

– He met with several teams but only named the Cowboys and Ravens. He worked out for the Cowboys. “It was very special to me, knowing where I came from and being from Texas,” he said of the Cowboys workout. He saw former teammate DeMarcus Lawrence working out and caught up with him.

– On what he’ll think about when he’s drafted: “It’s just going to be a very surreal moment, the moment I get that phone call. There will be a lot of emotions that come over me – just happiness and joy and excitement of getting ready to get to work and getting back to playing football. I’m excited to get back on the field and showcase to those teams why they were smart to draft me.”

– On an underrated trait he has: “I think one thing that really sets me apart as well is my work in the fourth quarter. I feel that really sets me apart from every other running back. If you see my statistics in the fourth quarter, when games are really won, I don’t let up. ... That’s really something that’s special and a lot of guys in this draft really can’t compare to.” Ajayi rushed for 600 yards and seven touchdowns in the fourth quarter last season. Tevin Coleman of Indiana was second with 519 yards. Ezekiel Elliott of Ohio State was the only other player with seven rushing TDs. Elliott is still in school.


Here are some stories on Ajayi for background:

Profile from August

Decision to leave Boise State

NFL Scouting Combine preview