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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Robert Golden working toward NFL dream without the NFL Combine to lean on

Janice Biancavilla
Janice Biancavilla/ Arizona Daily Wildcat UA vs. Stanford at Arizona Stadium on Saturday Sept. 17, 2011. Stanford beat UA 37-10

The NFL Scouting Combine puts draft hopefuls on center stage in front of virtually every scout and decision-maker in the league.

Prospects have one opportunity to show off their freakish athleticism or flawless technique in a world dominated by 40-times, vertical leaps and shuttle-runs.

While former Wildcats Nick Foles, Juron Criner and Trevin Wade were able to strut their stuff in Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium at this year’s combine, Robert Golden never got the chance.

The former Arizona defensive back didn’t receive an invite to the all-important combine, robbing him of the opportunity every NFL draft hopeful works for.

“I was surprised at first,” Golden said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “I didn’t quite understand why I didn’t get one. It kind of gave me motivation to just keep working hard and getting better.”

Without the combine to lean on, the 5-foot-11, 203-pound defensive back has been hard at work to create his own path that he hopes will lead him to the NFL.

Golden’s NFL audition started in mid-January at Kino Sports Complex at the Casino Del Sol All-Star Game where he showcased his skills in front of 50 pro scouts. The Fresno, Calif., native finished with two tackles and an interception, and talked to 20 to 25 teams, most of which had “great interest” in him.

“I feel like I had a pretty good showing all week in practice,” Golden said. “The teams liked what they saw and then backed it up with a great game.”

After a successful showing in Tucson, Golden traveled to the Michael Johnson Performance Center in McKinney, Texas, where he trained for seven weeks alongside Criner and a handful of other NFL prospects.

In McKinney, Golden worked on his speed, technique, vision and overall body control, he said.

“I feel like I got a lot better there,” he said.

As the weeks passed and the Combine crept closer, the Michael Johnson Performance Center cleared out. Criner and other NFL Combine invitees flew to Indianapolis, but not Golden.

On Monday, the hard-hitting defensive back hopped on a plane to Detroit to continue chasing the NFL dream. He’s been working out with the same trainer Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson uses, as both Golden and Woodson are represented by Professional Sports Planning Elite Athletic Management.

“I just want to be able to pick (Woodson’s) brain to get better on the field and be able to get better at my technique,” Golden said. “I just wanted to come out here and get better.”

Golden will stay in Detroit until Arizona’s Pro Day on March 19, but his biggest opportunity may come before then. Golden and other prospects will be going through combine drills at the Chicago Bears practice facility this Saturday in front of all 32 NFL teams.

“I just want to go out there and put on a good show, and hope for the best then go to pro day and back it up,” Golden said.

Golden, who is hoping to play cornerback or nickelback in the NFL despite moving to safety for his senior season, said he feels that a good showing in Chicago and a solid pro day can negate his lack of exposure at the combine.

“If one team loves you they’re going to pick you whenever they want to,” Golden said. “It’s all about what goes on in that war room and who wants the guys that they see on the film.”

Golden said before his senior season he heard he could eventually be drafted between the third and fifth rounds. But after moving to safety and missing the combine, Golden doesn’t know where he stands. But no matter where, or if, he gets drafted, all Golden said he needs is a chance.

“A lot of guys didn’t get Combine invites and are doing great things in the NFL now,” Golden said. “Once I get my foot in the door, I’m going to be able to make the team because I can bring a lot of positive things.”

Q&A with Robert Golden

On who he’d take with the first pick in the draft: “Man I’d pick myself (laughs). No I think I’d take Griffin over Andrew Luck.”
On who he thinks he plays like: “I play like Woodson a little bit. I’m not saying my game is just like his but I feel like the way he’s able to play the cornerback position and then come up and make the sure tackles and also play the nickelback position and come up in the box, I feel like we share some of the same tactics.”
On his current 40 time: “I’ve been working a lot on my 40. Everybody wants to know what’s his 40 going to be. I ran a 4.46 electronic time two weeks ago so I felt pretty good about that.”
On keeping in contact with Trevin Wade: “We’ve been texting every two weeks or so. We keep in contact. I wished him good luck and everything before the combine. Hopefully everything works out for him as well.”
On training with Juron in Dallas: “Me and Juron were always cool, always said what’s up to each other but we never hung out. We kind of got closer as friends. It kind of brought us closer but we’re all still doing our own thing. We’re here for one reason and that’s to get better on and off the field.”
On if he keeps up with UA football: “About two weeks ago I talked to coach Kish. I was able to talk to those guys and just congratulate those guys. It’s a huge program that they were able to add themselves to and I know that they’re going to be able to bring great things to that team. Hopefully they’ll be competing against U of A in a national championship one year.”

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