The NFL Draft is a captivating story. It's the beginning to some very fruitful careers, and it's also a very emotional culmination of years of hard work with that ever-distant goal of being an NFL player finally achieved. It's a great experience for these athletes, and is a special moment that they can look back on forever.
This week we chatted it up with multiple rookies during the Conversion Sports and Entertainment Sean John NFL Pre-Draft Luxury Gifting and Style Suite event, organized by CC Carnie. We spoke with the rookies about everything from how crazy their week has been to what music they are listening to currently. Check our interviews with Barkevious Mingo, Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, Sharrif Floyd, Kenny Vaccaro, and Xavier Rhodes below.
Interview by Rafael Canton (@RafelitoC7)
What has this week been like? Has it been a shock?
Barkevious Mingo: It’s still mind blowing right now. Being in this city, coming here to events like this is mind blowing. I can’t wrap my head around it right now. Just living in the moment.
Dee Milliner: I feel good about it. It’s been long, but that’s going to come with it. I’m just taking in the experience, seeing the different teams and different coaches and players and just taking it all in and just enjoying myself.
Chance Warmack: Just excited, spending time with my family, meeting new people. Just having a great time man, it’s a real fun experience.
D.J. Fluker: I’ve been feeling really excited, just enjoying the whole experience. being here with my agent, and going through the process has been really fun. I’ve been meeting up with some of my friends and former teammates as well and it’s been a great experience so far.
Sharrif Floyd: It’s been a great experience for me. I’ve been taking it for what it is, and understanding what comes along with it. I’ve been taking advantage of everything that has been thrown at me.
Kenny Vaccaro: I’m actually chilling right now. A lot of people think I’m anxious, but I’ve really just been enjoying the whole process. It’s been a long road for me, 20 years of grinding, so to finally see the end and get rewarded for it is going to be a special moment.
Xavier Rhodes: No. I’m just a person that I just stay under the radar, stay home, lay back and not really in the spotlight. I’m with the people I love and I cherish the most. If it was up to me I would probably be home right now just relaxing. I have to be here. I have to be in this moment. I love this moment. Not too many people have this opportunity that I have so I take advantage of every opportunity I have.
What will be your first reaction when you hear your name called?
Barkevious Mingo: Honestly, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be very excited. Wherever I end up, just to hear my name called by the commissioner and getting to walk across that stage. Just looking forward to it.
Dee Milliner: I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do and how I’m feeling. I know it’s going to be very emotional and a good time for me, my family, my agency, and all the people that have helped me out, so I know it will be very emotional.
Chance Warmack: I’m just gonna be happy to have my name called. Not a lot of guys are able to experience what I’m experiencing right now. I’m just blessed man. Happy to be here.
D.J. Fluker: I can’t even tell you. I’ll probably be as happy as a little kid in a candy store. It will be the happiest moment of my life, and when it happens I’m just going to thank God for it. I think it’s a blessing. Only once a year, only a few of us get accepted to actually come here.
Sharrif Floyd: I don’t even know my reaction yet, so when it happens it will happen. it’s probably going to shock me too.
Kenny Vaccaro: It’s going to be emotional. Honestly, I can’t tell you how my reaction’s going to be. I could be crying hard, I might be shocked, like I said it will be an emotional moment for me.
Xavier Rhodes: I know I’m going to smile like a mug. I’m going to smile hard. I’m not going to go out there acting like I knew I was going to be in the first round. I’m going to try to act calm at the same time.
You played only running back and wide receiver in high school, right?
Xavier Rhodes: I thought they recruited me to play wide receiver. They also asked me if I wanted to play offense or defense. I told them offense or whatever I needed to do to help the team, but I thought it was going to be receiver since I had never played defense a day in my life at that time on an organized level. Got there, and ended up playing corner. I took it in, learned the position and played it.
What was that transition like?
Xavier Rhodes: It was tough on me. Learning everything from the standpoint of going forward to have to learn going backwards is really different.
Do you ever pay attention to the discussion of your stock rising or falling and where you will end up in the draft?
Barkevious Mingo: You hear it, but you don’t really pay attention to it. Those guys have their opinions, but ultimately it’s not their opinions that matter. It’s the general managers and head coaches who really have a say, so that’s how I look at it.
What are you going to buy after you sign your first NFL contract?
Dee Milliner: I don’t know yet, but I know I’m going to get my family something and take care of the people that took care of me first.
Chance Warmack: First thing I’m going to buy is somewhere to stay. Not sure whether it will be a house, a condo, or wherever, but probably somewhere to stay.
D.J. Fluker: First thing I’m going to buy is a house for my mom. Buy her a house she's always wanted.
Kenny Vaccaro: I’m going to buy my mom a house. She’s been working for a long time. i don’t want to see her work anymore, so I’m going to buy her a nice, comfortable home so she can relax.
Xavier Rhodes: What everybody else is going to buy. I gotta buy a house for the lady taking care of me my whole life. I have to make sure she’s good, but I don’t have too much else that I’m looking to buy.
What are you going to miss the most about college?
Barkevious Mingo: I had the privilege to play at LSU. At LSU we had 93,000 every week. I hear it doesn’t get that big at some of the NFL stadiums, but that was one of the things I’ll miss. Especially, Death Valley, that’s an incredible stadium to play at. We had a loyal fanbase. They came out always loud and they helped us win. That will be one of the things I’ll miss depending where I go, so I can’t tell you exactly.
Dee Milliner: Playing on the field of Bryant Denney, my teammates, coaches, and the fans. They gave me a lot of support throughout the process.
Chance Warmack: Just a group of guys playing for one particular goal, a national championship, a bowl game, or a winning streak. You miss those things, and that’s probably what I will miss the most.
D.J. Fluker: I’m going to miss walking across that stage and getting my degree. I’ll probably do it over because I’m going to go back and get my Master’s degree. Other than that, winning three championships at the University of Alabama will be what I miss the most.
Xavier Floyd: I’m not going to miss much. I’ll probably miss the brotherhood aspect. Overall, I won’t miss much because I accomplished what I accomplished in college, but now it’s time for me to move on. Other than that, the boys I played with, the bond we had is what I will miss. I won’t be there fighting for my boys when they play on Saturdays. I’m going to have a new family on Sundays.
What are you listening to right now?
Barkevious Mingo: I listen to everything. My iPod is filled with a wide range of songs. Rap, hip-hop, pop, a little country. I’m from Louisiana, I’m from the country, so you gotta throw a little country in there.
Dee Milliner: T.I., Jay-Z, Kanye, and Diddy. I like a couple Atlanta rappers like Future.
Chance Warmack: Man, I was listening to Foo Fighters’ new album on the plane. I was jamming to that. I listen to a whole bunch of music. I like Kanye West, Meek Mill, and Lil Wayne.
D.J. Fluker: I listen to Meek Mill. I listen to Dreamchasers and Dreams & Nightmares. Meek’s always loud and hype, but his music is inspirational to me. Meek’s music inspires people to keep on fighting for what you want in life. Everybody gets an opportunity and a shot at something that they love doing.
Kenny Vaccaro: Right now a lot of Meek Mill. I’m a Meek fan. He gets me crunk and live. I always listen to Drake, he always puts out fire. A lot of MMG. That’s the only thing that’s hot right now. Meek speaks the truth.
Xavier Rhodes: Anything that catches my ear currently. I don’t have a dynamic artist I listen to. I listen to everybody. If it sounds good to me I’ll try it. That’s how I act with everything.
What gift did you like the most walking around the Sean John Gifting Suite?
Barkevious Mingo: Just being able to come through and see these different companies and interact with these people. It’s fun to come here and do this kind of stuff.
Chance Warmack: Everything man. Everybody showed a lot of love with what they were doing, and I felt like they’re just nice people. It’s good to be around good people, and it’s fun to experience the thing that I’m experiencing, and hopefully I can continue to do that in the future.
Xavier Rhodes: I like it all. Nothing beats free, so I like it all.
What's your favorite tech product?
Barkevious Mingo: My iPhone. If I lost it, I would be lost in this world. Everything comes through it. it’s how I communicate. If I didn’t have an iPhone I’d be dead, or close to it.
Dee Milliner: I don’t really use my Macbook or my iPad that much, but I use my phone a lot.
Chance Warmack: I can’t live without my phone. I have a lot of contacts on my phone. I need those contacts, and that helps me get through the day.
D.J. Fluker: I can’t live without a television.
Xavier Rhodes: I can’t live without my cell phone. I have so much stuff programmed into my phone that I absolutely need it.
How would you define your style?
Barkevious Mingo: Very relaxed. I like to be comfortable. Usually, I’m wearing gym shorts, and a t-shirt with flip-flops. Coming here, I had to step it up a little bit. I couldn’t wear that so I had to change it up.
Dee Milliner: I just like to wear a pair of jeans and some plaid shirts.
Xavier Rhodes: Anything that I see like cardigans and sweaters. Whatever I see that I like, something that I can just put on and go.
What are you most excited for when you officially join the NFL?
Chance Warmack: I’m just excited to see where I measure up in the NFL, and see myself in an NFL uniform. I’ve always dreamed about that and making it a reality.
D.J. Fluker: I just want to know what my new team is going to be like, how I’m going to get along with my teammates and the coaching staff. Seeing what I can do to help the team win is what I take into consideration. Wherever they put me at, I’ll play, I’m a team player, and a leader. I want to be the Ray Lewis of the offensive line.
Xavier Rhodes: Putting on the jersey. I can’t wait to do that and get on the field. I’ve been looking forward to this since I was a child.
How do you prepare for a game?
Barkevious Mingo: I try to calm down. I sit down, put a towel over my head while everyone else is doing their jumping around. I try to stay calm and stay focused.
Kenny Vacarro: I get in a zone and lock in. I sit by myself and listen to music. I start going through me making plays all over the field. Just imagining a successful game and try to portray it like it’s game time.