PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Avonte Maddox is one of several Pittsburgh Panthers hoping to hear his name called in next weekend’s NFL Draft.
Widely projected as a slot corner, Maddox turned heads at the combine in Indianapolis with a blazing 4.39 40-yard dash. He posted the fastest time in the 60-yard shuttle among all cornerbacks and finished second in the three-cone drill. His performance even caught the eye of NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, and the Detroit, Mich., native’s draft stock has been on the rise ever since.
“Just very grateful and happy with the combine,” Maddox said Sunday in an interview with Pittsburgh Sports Now. “I was happy with the results, and I just didn’t want to do anything at Pro Day but position drills. That was my goal, and I achieved that, so I was pretty happy when I saw those times.”
Since finishing the season in late November, Maddox has been working closely with Pitt football strength and conditioning coach Dave Andrews and training at EXOS Athletes’ Performance Institute in Pensacola, Fla. With all the work he has put in over the last few months, his times at the combine came as no surprise.
“I’ve always been a good tester,” Maddox said. “I can move left to right, I’m pretty quick—I know I’m fast—and they really questioned if I was that 4.3 fast…so I wasn’t really surprised.”
In Pat Narduzzi’s defensive scheme, Maddox generally played outside, but because of his small frame and speed, NFL teams believe he is better suited for defending the slot.
“I’m a tough guy, I’m competitive, play the ball—a ball skills type guy,” Maddox said of the feedback from NFL front offices. “They all know I’m small. They ask if I can play inside, but I just tell them, ‘I’m a corner, I can play inside or outside.”
With draft day rapidly approaching, Maddox continues to work and prepare for life after the draft, i.e., rookie camp. While some draft hopefuls might be scanning the latest mock drafts, the 5-foot-9 defensive back avoids the speculation altogether.
“I really don’t get into it,” Maddox. “Teams really don’t tell you, and I don’t even really ask my agent. I’m taking it day by day, worrying about what’s going on today and not what’s going on later.”
“I’m just working on my craft, doing everything I can do to get better, and the mock drafts never go the way they say they will. Some other team may draft you. Anything can change so I don’t really pay attention to it.”
With many of his teammates also expecting to hear their names called next weekend, Maddox is excited to share the stage with his fellow Panthers.
“I’m happy for every single one of them,” Maddox said. “Just being a captain on the team, and seeing every one of those guys grow, get better, and head to the NFL Draft is a blessing.”