Pirates Players Reflect On Being Drafted
By: Kirstin Trouville & Pirates Insider Oliver Nissi
April 29, 2021
With the 2021 NFL draft happening this weekend, this is a special time for former Pirates draft picks. Seven current Pirates players received phone calls from NFL front office personnel telling them they had been drafted. I spoke with this group about what getting drafted meant to each of them and how it changed their life forever moving forward.
Defensive back Khalid Wooten and wide receiver Terrance Williams were drafted in 2013 as 6th and 3rd round picks, respectively. Williams was selected 74th overall by the Dallas Cowboys and went on to play in 86 career NFL games, more than any active Pirates player. Wooten was drafted by the Tennessee Titans, 202nd overall, and said his favorite experience in the NFL draft process was the Scouting Combine.
“My favorite was the combine because I got to showcase my talent on the field. All this time training for months and being able to show what you’re working for to all 32 teams is the best.”
The 2014 NFL Draft saw two Pirates, wide receiver Martavis Bryant and defensive back Ahmad Dixon, drafted in the 4th and 7th round. Bryant was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 118th overall selection and quickly became one of the biggest names of the 2014 rookie draft class. He played in 10 games as a rookie and hauled in 26 receptions. Had he qualified by playing more games, he would have ranked second in the NFL in receiving yards per target (11.4), behind only Washington receiver Desean Jackson. Dixon, who grew in Texas and played college ball at Baylor University, was drafted by the Cowboys 248th overall.
In 2015 linebacker Martrell Spaight was a 5th round pick, 141st overall, with the Washington Redskins, now known as the Washington Football Team. Spaight appeared in parts of four seasons during his NFL career and played in 37 games and recorded 107 tackles. Spaight reflected on getting the call from Washington five years ago.
“It was awesome, all the work put in over the years and you always dreamt of that call on draft day. It came through and was an amazing feeling knowing the hard work paid off. Seeing the emotion from my family and knowing it was an indescribable feeling.”
On draft weekend In 2016, defensive back Harlan Miller and wide receiver Demarcus Ayers heard their names called in the 6th and 7th rounds. Miller, drafted 205th overall by the Arizona Cardinals, saw action in 9 NFL games and compiled 13 tackles and 1 interception.
Ayers, drafted 229th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers, told me Steelers owner Art Rooney II, head coach Mike Tomlin, and general manager Kevin Colbert gave him a call on the final day of draft weekend. He described that call as the best moment of his life.
“It was life changing. You set a goal as a young man what you want to do and the serious stuff needed to get there. It’s the dream come true since you work your whole life for this.”
Before publishing this article, I asked Khalid Wooten his thoughts on being drafted 3 selections before fellow defensive back Harlan Miller.
“It’s good to know. We’re teammates at the end of the day and we’re on our way to being the best defense in the league.”
The Pirates have never had this many former NFL draft picks on the roster in a given season and this group still has a lot left in the tank in terms of talent and motivation to keep their careers moving forward, perhaps back to the NFL someday.
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