Exclusive Interview with Auburn DB Rudy Ford
Auburn DB Rudy Ford took time out of his busy predraft schedule to speak with us exclusively here at Draft Breakdown. After running a 4.3 at his pro day, teams across the league are taking a closer look at Ford and the versatility he can bring to their defense. Ford has made predraft visits to the Cardinals, Raiders and Rams. In this exclusive sit down, we discuss a strange occurrence with the medical team at the combine that held him out from participating in the agility drills, his experiences at the Senior Bowl and much more. Some video analysis is also included. Enjoy.
Thanks for speaking with me today Rudy.
Ford: It’s my pleasure, thanks for having me.
You arrive at Auburn after playing running back in high school and they immediately convert you to a defensive back. What was that transition like?
Ford: It was a smooth transition. I always just loved to play football. Going from offense to defense, whenever you have a love for the game, you just want the opportunity to play football. I never really felt like it was gonna’ be hard for me to go over there and make that switch. I just went over there to Auburn and I learned the position. It ended up being the best opportunity for me.
They put you at both nickel and safety. What position do you see yourself playing in the NFL?
Ford: I see myself playing both, even a little cornerback because of my speed. As far as right now, I’ve been fine-tuning my technique, just really focusing on that during this whole time leading up to the draft. I feel like I can play all three positions.
Ford does it all on tape. Here, he stuffs the run on a key 3rd & 2 which ultimately forces a punt.
Do you have a preference regarding your scheme fit? Have teams told you were they like you? I really noticed your skills as in-the-box safety on tape.
Ford: I’ve had a little bit of everything from the different teams that I’ve met with. Every scheme is different but I feel like I can fit any one of them. A lot of teams told me that they see me as a nickel in their scheme. Some teams see me in a free safety position, they want me to roam sideline-to-sideline. I’ve even had some teams talk to me about playing corner for them, lined up on the outside because of my speed and my technique. I’ve heard a little bit of everything throughout the process.
Ford excels around the line of scrimmage. Here, he helps stonewall the running back just short of the goal line.
That’s very interesting. You’ve talked about your speed twice now and I want to touch on that. You get to the combine and they tell you that you’re not healthy enough to participate in the 40 yard dash. Four days later at your pro day, you ran in the low 4.3’s. Did you disagree with the medical at the combine? What went down exactly?
Ford: I trained the whole time to come up to the combine. I had a little situation with my foot but I was able to come out at my pro day and show that I could run. I was training the whole time for that man. I don’t really know exactly why it went down like that at the combine, but I wasn’t able to run. Fortunately when I got back to my pro day, I was able to showcase my speed. I had some teams clock me in the high 4.2’s, others had me in the low 4.3’s. I’m a 4.2 guy all day, consistently. I was just coming off surgery a week and a half before my pro day.
So the doctors at the combine told you that you weren’t healthy enough to run?
Ford: In my opinion, I was definitely healthy enough to run. That’s why I wanted to show teams that I could run at my pro day. I’m not sure why that happened. I should have gone back and asked the doctors what went on. I was cleared by some doctors there, so I’m not sure. Ultimately, it wasn’t my decision.
Besides that odd occurrence, what was the combine like for you? How did it differ from your pro day?
Ford: It was a great experience. I had the opportunity to go out there and compete with the top talent in the country. I was able to show that I belong in that same category. I feel like I’m the best safety in this draft. To go out there and see everybody, meet new players and see what their game is all about, it was great. We all came from different schools across the country. It was just great to meet everybody and share our thoughts on this process. I also got to meet a bunch of coaches, talking to them about how I fit into their schemes, where they see me playing should they be the ones to draft me. There were a lot of different things going on.
Ford has a versatile skill-set. Here, he times his blitz excellently and gets home to record the sack.
It’s come to my attention that you’ve been working out with former NFL defensive back Roderick Hood, who works for the Arizona Cardinals now. What’s that been like, training with him? They’ve got some good DB’s down there in Arizona.
Ford: He’s been bringing the best out of me. He’s helping me elevate my game. He’s technique sound and he’s very critical about every little detail which is great for me. He expects me to be perfect. It’s been very intense [laughs]. He’s getting the most out of me though. It’s been a blessing to have him as a mentor. He played in the league for several years and he has a lot of great advice and skills that he can teach me. I’m learning everything I can from him. I’m just continuing to work and using this time to get better. It’s all been a blessing.
He had a long NFL career and I’m sure he has a lot of valuable insight. You went to the Senior Bowl but you had to pull out of the game a couple of days before due to your ankle injury. What was that week like?
Ford: That week was a real eye-opener for me. I got down there, I was preparing to play in the game of course. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to play but it was still a great experience. I had the opportunity to learn from the Cleveland Browns staff. I learned a lot from those guys. I spoke with a lot of different teams, going from table to table. I was running around a lot down there, meeting all of the coaches that were present. I talked with a lot of scouts as well. You have to have a lot of energy to go down there and run around [laughs].
Why did you decide to go? If anyone asks for your advice in the future, would you advise a player to participate in the Senior Bowl?
Ford: I would advise them to go down there. I would tell them to make sure that they’re healthy though. If you’re hurt and you feel like you can’t do your best, don’t go. But if you have the opportunity to go and you’re healthy, definitely go. It’ll help you in your preparation for the NFL combine, should you get invited. The Senior Bowl is a great opportunity to talk to NFL coaches for the first time, and prepare you for your future meetings with different organizations. It will definitely help you prepare. It’ll be the first time a lot of those guys [coaches and scouts] get to see you. You want to go out there and show them who you are, what you’re all about and help them put a face to the name. It’s a blessing to go to the Senior Bowl. I would definitely advise players to go. Not too many people get that invite.
You’ve talked about meeting different teams at the Senior Bowl and at the combine. How many teams would you say have shown an interest in you? Do you have any upcoming visits?
Ford: I’ve had a lot of teams show interest in me. I’ve probably spoken to all 32 teams between my time spent at the Senior Bowl and at the combine. I have some interest from everybody. At this point in the process, I’ve been getting calls from different teams every day. It’s been a blessing.
That’s great to hear. I think I’ve taken up enough of your time Rudy, I really appreciate you talking with me today. In closing, why should an NFL team invest a draft pick into Rudy Ford?
Ford: You’re going to get a top player in this class. I’m definitely gonna’ come in and put in the work necessary. I’m gonna’ be a nice addition to your organization. Everything I’ve got to give will be left out there on the field. I’m a team-first guy and I believe that I possess all of the qualities that you would want in a player. I’m definitely a good person off the field as well.