NEPD Staff Writer: Dan Hope
10 years ago, when the Miami Hurricanes were coming off of back-to-back national championship appearances, it would have been nearly impossible to come out of Miami and be a sleeper. Dealing with scandals, however, has brought the Hurricanes back down to mediocrity in recent seasons, and as a result, Miami’s Brandon McGee may be actually one of the most promising sleepers at the cornerback position in the 2013 NFL Draft.
McGee feels that his stock is on the rise after strong performances at the East-West Shrine Game and the NFL Scouting Combine.
“I definitely feel like I did everything that I needed to,” McGee said in an interview. “Pro day went excellent, the workouts I’ve been doing have been going great.”
McGee did not end up playing in the game itself during Shrine Game week, but had a very strong week in practices according to numerous media scouts who attended, including TFY Draft Insider’s Tony Pauline, who wrote following one practice for PhiladelphiaEagles.com that McGee’s performance could be described as “wow.”
McGee said he thinks he “really impressed” the scouts in attendance at the Shrine Game with his athleticism, playmaking ability by forcing turnovers and his understanding of the game.
“Being able to see some of the most talented guys and going out there and just having a great showing, it definitely helped me out a lot,” McGee said.
At the combine, McGee had some issues with catching the ball consistently and looked stiff with his hip turns in drills, but he did display some good athleticism with a 4.40-second 40-yard dash, 6.71-second 3-cone drill and 9-foot-11 broad jump.
McGee was a two-year starter at cornerback for the Hurricanes, and those two years were littered with inconsistent play. Nonetheless, he follows a long line of Miami cornerbacks who have gone on to NFL success, including Duane Starks, Phillip Buchanon and Sam Shields.
“It’s definitely something that I don’t take lightly,” McGee said of the defensive back history at Miami. “The guys that came before me paved the way in a sense.”
Buchanon’s career ended at Miami ended with a national championship victory at the end of the 2001 season, after which he, legendary safety Ed Reed and fellow cornerback Mike Rumph were all first-round picks out of the Hurricanes secondary. McGee’s career was not quite as glorious, as the Hurricanes did not play in a bowl game in either of McGee’s starting seasons due to NCAA violations.
McGee said that being part of a program that was in the spotlight for the wrong reasons helped him learn to work through adversity.
“You learn how to be in a situation and just make the most of it, despite the circumstances,” McGee said.
McGee said the experience also taught him how to be a better leader, which was especially important last season given that he was the only senior starter on the Hurricanes defense.
“We had a young team,” McGee said. “Just going out there and leading every week definitely prepared me for what I’m about to get into now, and also just learning how to handle being in the public eye, because a lot of people, they want to talk about the scandal surrounding the school, but as players … it’s our duty to kind of keep our team focused and off a lot of negative energy.”
McGee’s athleticism and playmaking ability make him a likely draft selection, but he believes his intangibles may be his best traits.
“One of my greatest assets is something that can’t deteriorate over time, but actually get better, and that’s my intelligence of the game,” McGee said. “Just being able to understand defenses, understand what I’m doing, being able to learn.”
A likely Day 3 draft choice, McGee said he has received positive vibes from NFL teams.
“A lot of teams are just telling me, they’ve seen improvement in me from my junior to my senior year,” McGee said. “They talk about the East-West Shrine Game, going out there and competing, they also talk about me being able to go out and do what I did at the combine, which also helped me out as well.
“There’s been a lot of positive feedback, but at the same time, you know and I know, the draft is unpredictable. It could go any way,” McGee added.
McGee said he wants to make it in the league for his late mother, who he told he would make it to the NFL before she died of breast cancer in 2004. According to an August story from the Miami Herald, McGee’s father is also a throat cancer survivor, though he had to have his larynx removed in 2001.
To be drafted would be the realization of a lifelong dream, McGee said.
“Just being able to be in a position to even have the opportunity to play in the NFL is a blessing,” McGee said. “I just remain humble, and I’ll be ready for draft day, trust me.”
Following the draft, McGee said his NFL goal is “getting there and staying there.”
“When you step on the field, you’re not just playing for yourself but you’re playing in front of all, you’re pretty much auditioning for every team, every game,” McGee said. “(The) NFL is unpredictable … with the new CBA, all these big contracts going around now, you never know when they’re letting go of guys.”
Update: Per a source, McGee has received “considerable interest” from the New England Patriots, and has had private workouts with the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and New York Jets.