While some teams questioned if Keith McGill was deserving of a midround NFL Draft pick, the Oakland Raiders were swayed when he came on a private visit.
General manager Reggie McKenzie asked McGill about some of his off-the-field issues, and asked him if he was ready to play in the NFL.
"He understood that everything was behind me," McGill said in a conference call. "I looked him in the eyes and now I’m an Oakland Raider."
He went a little later than some thought, but the former Utes corner will start his NFL career with the Raiders. He was the first Utah player to be selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, going at No. 116 overall. He’ll play in his home state as a pro after getting a late start to his career.
McGill struggled with injuries to start his career with Utah, but he racked up 37 tackles, 12 pass breakups and a pick-six on his way to All-Pac-12 honorable mention. It was his first season playing corner after starting as a safety for the Utes.
The California native saw his stock soar following the NFL Combine, when he ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash and performed well in other drills at 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds. Most media outlets graded him as a second-day draft prospect leading into the weekend.
McGill was convicted on a DUI charge in 2012, when he redshirted because of injury. He acknowledged it probably hurt his draft stock. But he said that particular incident made him focus more on his career.
"I didn’t realize that everything could be taken away in a flash and that the window was closing," he said. "I think right then and there, there comes a point in time of life where you make a decision to become a man or remain a boy, and that’s what I did before the 2013 season. It got me in the situation I am now."
McGill got a late start to his career, initially working as an auto mechanic after graduating from La Mirada High School. But he got a jump-start at Cerritos College, where he was a junior college All-American at safety.
Playing in the Pac-12 against some of the best receivers in the nation — including a handful of first- and second-round picks — has seasoned him for NFL-caliber competition. It was frustrating to see so many corners drafted ahead of him, he said, but he’s eager to show what he can do on the field.
"All the teams that passed on me, they’re going to realize it was a big mistake," he said. "And the Oakland Raiders are going to realize that it was a really good draft pick."
A father and a husband, McGill said he spent the day in Anaheim with family. He said sitting next to his 3-year-old daughter lifted his spirits as he waited to be drafted.
"She was right next to me today," he said. "Nothing can make me happier than being in the situation I am now."
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