Year in and year out, we are reminded that the big boards we follow on the internet are far different than those in NFL war rooms. Players are forgotten, prospects are undervalued, and members of NFL scouting department’s prove their worth by uncovering hidden talent where others see nothing.
One player that has truly gotten lost in the shuffle among draft pundits throughout the draft process, is Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon. Now, I can sit here and preach to the choir about Dixon’s versatility and value that he can bring to a team like the Kansas City Chiefs, but the better idea would be to have the Waco, Texas native tell you himself.
I caught up with the Baylor safety just days before the NFL Draft, and was genuinely impressed with his personality.
AM: Ok, so to start off, tell Chiefs fans a little bit about yourself and how you first introduced to football.
AD: Man, well I had an older cousin who played football, and one day my uncle came over and picked me and my brother up and took us over to my cousins football practice. When I watched him practice, I just new that I wanted to play football. So when I was five and my brother was six, we started playing. In my first year, I started out on the offensive line, and then I played running back all the way up until high school. Eventually, I ended up playing receiver and defensive back in my sophomore year in high school. I never really played defense, but my coach just told me to never let anybody behind me and to keep everything in front of me. After that, I just found my identity and found what I’m supposed to be in life.
AM: I bet life has been pretty hectic lately, with all of your interviews and workouts you’ve been doing with teams. What has the draft process been like for you?
AD: It’s been different, but it hasn’t been how people think it would be like or how I visualized it. I played in the senior bowl, went to the combine and my pro day, and scouts have seen so much to the point where I didn’t have to travel a lot and meet with other teams. I’ve just been working, I’m always working. I’ve been in the lab every day, working on what teams say I should work on.
AM: So, it seems to have been pretty laid back outside of the combine, pro day, and senior bowl?
AD: Yeah, I mean I’ve just been working. It’s definitely been different though, because I’ve needed to get myself mentally prepared for this. It’s a whole different lifestyle. You don’t have a shadow anymore. In high school and college, you always had someone to hold your hand and walk you through it, but in the NFL, how you’ve been brought up and everything you’ve learned is going to be tested in this next phase of life.
AM: Are there any players in the NFL that you model your game after, or that inspire you to become a better player?
AD: As far as modeling my game after, I wouldn’t say I model my game after anyone, because I’m my own person with my own style. But two guys that I do look up to are Eric Berry and Ed Reed. They’re two guys I’ve watched a lot. Guys like them motivate me and my motivation is also my little brother. My little brother was born with a hole in his heart, and doctors told my parents that he’d never be able, walk be able to eat, or even be able to talk. But he’s 20 years old and he’s my biggest fan, and my biggest motivation. He’s never questioned god or asked why he had to have this problem, he just lives life to the fullest, and is always happy and in a great mood. He’s my motivation.
AM: I’m sure that it must be really nerve racking with the draft coming up tomorrow, but how does it feel knowing that you’re only a few days away from having your dreams of playing in the NFL come true?”
AD: Honestly, it hasn’t hit me yet. I’ve been taking this the same way I took being recruited in high school. I’m really just sitting back and letting everything play out, just how I did in high school. I think about all of the ‘what-if’s’ and everything, but I’m just letting it all play out. I still go back and watch my college games and critique myself, and I’m just working. I still live my life as a regular person and see myself as a regular person.
AM: In Kansas City, many believe that the Chiefs are looking for a safety that can play center field in the back end of their defense and play plenty of man coverage. How do you think you’d fit in that type of role, playing next to Eric Berry, a player that you look up to?
AD: I’d love to, that’d be a blessing to have him next to me. He’s a great guy and I’ve actually been training with him this offseason. Just being around him and feeling his vibe and his work ethic, he’s a workaholic. To play with him and not just work out with him would be amazing because he’s somebody that I look up to. I’d love to steal some things from his game and add them to mine, because he’s a spectacular defensive back.
AM: Yeah, you guys definitely have some similarities in your game, and if the Chiefs-or any team for that matter- select you in the draft, what type of player and teammate will they be getting?
AD: I’m a very vocal leader, and I’m really passionate about what I do. I love this game and it’s more than just a game, it’s a lifestyle an it’s my life. I’ve been doing this since I was 5 and it’s all I know. I’ll be giving it my all every day and it doesn’t really matter where I go or what the teams record was the year before, I’m just going to give it my all.
AM: Okay, I’m going to give you a few quick, fun questions. You ready?
AM: Have you ever experienced Kansas City’s famous BBQ?
AD: No, I’ve never experienced it, but I’ve heard that it’s pretty good.
AM: I can tell you from personal experience, that you’ll fall in love with the Kansas City BBQ once you try it.
AD: (Laughs) Okay, okay.
AM: Out of everything you experienced at Baylor, what goes down as your most memorable moment?
AD: Oh man, I have a lot of those. But as far as on the field goes, it has to be winning the Big Ten Championship. That’s something that’ll never be taken away from our program. We actually went out and worked for that championship, and that definitely has to be my favorite memory at Baylor.
AM: What was the worst city you visited on a road trip?
AD: The worst was always Oklahoma State. It wasn’t their facilities, it’s just that there is nothing in Stillwater. The hotels aren’t very good, you’re not going to get the best service, and you have to be mentally prepared before you go to Stillwater, because the only thing there, is Oklahoma State. That has to be the worst one of them all.
AM: You went up against a lot of talented offensive players at Baylor. Who was the toughest player you were asked to defend?
AD: The toughest competitors I had to compete against that weren’t on my team, had to be Demarco Murray and Tavon Austin. Those two guys made me view things much differently. I faced Murray in my freshman year and actually covered Tavon Austin in the slot, and got to see him one on one. As far as on my team, everybody on my team was tough. Everybody who wore that Baylor jersey was tough.
AM: You grew up in Texas, correct?
AD: Yeah, born and raised in Waco, Texas.
AM: What will you miss most about Texas?
I mean, just home. I’ve never left home, so that will be the biggest thing I miss. I’m going to get homesick very early because I’ve never really been away from my parents and my family, and that’ll be the biggest thing that I’ll have to deal with. I’ve been working mentally to prepare myself for going through the biggest part of my life, really, by myself.
AM: What are you looking forward to most about the NFL?
AD: I’m looking forward to just showing people that I am as good as I really am. I feel that I’ve been disrespected and that I’ve never been given the credit that I deserve, and I feel that I am the best safety in this draft. I’m looking forward to showing everyone how good I really am.
AM: Are there any teams, specifically, that have shown significant interest in you?
AD: The Cardinals definitely have, along with the Broncos, Seahawks, Colts and the Jets. Those teams have been really tight on me.
AM: I bet playing in a secondary like Seattle’s and learning from Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman would be like a dream come true.
AD: It would be, but I’m not the type of player that looks to play with the most talented guys. I’ve always been on a team with a group of guys who would just come together and fight. I wouldn’t mind Seattle, but I don’t really like playing for teams that are already on top. I like being the underdog. I’ve been the underdog so much, that it has almost become who I am.
AM: Is there anything else that you’d like Chiefs fans to know about you?
AD: Yeah, I’ll tell you that I am not the man I’m portrayed as by the media. The bad guy that I’m portrayed as, is not me. I’m a very respectable, loving and caring young man, and I’ve had to deal with some challenges in life, but one thing that I’ll tell Chiefs fans is that I’m not the type of man I’m portrayed as. That’s definitely not me.