Hayes Pullard Pleads NFL Draft Case on Players’ Tribune


Hayes Pullard may not be drafted, but turning to The Players’ Tribune Tuesday he laid out the case to NFL teams for why he is worth the pick.

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“My name is Hayes Pullard and I’m writing to express my interest in becoming your next linebacker,” the open cover letter to NFL GMs and coaches begins.

Pullard acknowledges his uphill battle towards earning a spot on an NFL roster throughout the letter. However, he argues that his intelligence and drive will carry him towards fulfilling his professional aspirations.

What he lacks in size, he makes up for in football IQ.

"You can be the strongest and fastest guy in the world, but you’re not going to be able to do much on a football field if you don’t have a feel for the game. The ability to see a play unfold before it happens can’t be measured with a stopwatch or measuring stick, but you’ll notice it in the final score. Being a good linebacker really comes down to having the ability to recognize the little things."

Pullard also points out the upheaval at USC during his time and how it has molded him into a better football player.

When it comes to scheme, Pullard says he can fit into them all because he’s been through so many coaching changes.

"From Monte Kiffin to Ed Orgeron to Clancy Pendergast to Justin Wilcox, I was able to learn something new each year, as opposed to being taught the same principles behind one system over and over. I feel comfortable saying that I can play in any system because in the past few years I’ve seen it all, from 5-2 to 3-4."

From a mental perspective, the player summarizes his ability to deal with hardship especially being part of the recruiting class which arrived the spring Pete Carroll left and USC was hit with devastating sanctions.

"There were scholarship restrictions, which led to a lack of depth, which led to ugly losses, which led to the constant coaching changes mentioned above. But despite all this, I stayed put when I could have left. Now, after earning my degree in public policy and development, I depart from a program that’s in much better shape than when I arrived. If you decide to draft me, you can trust that I won’t be rattled by tough times. I’ve already been there and seen it through."

Notably, Pullard accepts a potential role as a special teams player, pledging to prove himself worthy of more responsibility in due time.

The USC captain and middle linebacker enters the 2015 NFL draft with a seventh round grade from both NFL.com and CBS.

Despite notching four years as a starter for the Trojans and standing sixth on USC’s list of all-time leading tacklers, Pullard’s undersized frame has limited his pro prospects.

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Pullard is not the only Trojan linebacker in recent history to face questions when it came to the draft.

Last year Devon Kennard mustered a fifth round pick and went on to a surprisingly productive rookie season with the New York Giants.

In 2011, Malcolm Smith was picked by Seattle in the seventh round as the No. 242 pick overall. He would go on to establish himself as an important role player in the Seahawks championship run and was named Super Bowl MVP.

On the other side of the coin, Dallas Sartz and Oscar Lua each squeaked into the later rounds but spent no more than one year in the league.

“I went to USC to fulfill my father’s dream. I got my degree to fulfill my mother’s dream. And now I’m writing this letter to you to fulfill my dream,” Pullard concluded. “If you draft me, know that I have no plans on being just good.”