Dakota Tallman isn’t on the radar of national draft analysts and doesn’t pop up on mock drafts.
He’s not discouraged.
“I fully believe that I have a shot at the next level and I’m ready to show the NFL and the other teams that I am the player that they want to pick up,” Tallman told The Chronicle-Telegram last week.
The Elyria Catholic graduate worked out for NFL scouts at Eastern Michigan’s pro day and at the local pro day hosted by the Browns, along with Lorain County products C.J. Conrad, Dante Redwood and Andrew Dowell. Tallman isn’t likely to get drafted but expects to sign as a free agent or be invited to a rookie minicamp on a tryout.
“I’m just hoping and praying for the best,” he said. “Whatever comes my way, I’m going to take full advantage of what I get. I’m not going to let an opportunity pass me by.”
He’s 6-foot-4¼ and 300 pounds. He bench pressed 225 pounds 23 times — he hoped for more — and had a vertical leap of 26½ inches and a broad jump of 8-2.
He’s dropped 25 pounds since Jan. 5 as he works at Midwest Athletic Performance in Cincinnati. He admitted getting sloppy with his eating habits during the season.
“I’m stronger and faster than I’ve ever been,” he said. “I just wasn’t in the right shape.”
Tallman bounced around the line in his first couple of years at Eastern Michigan before being moved to center. It was the right fit, and he started all 25 games the last two seasons.
The center is usually the smartest of the linemen and makes the protection calls along with the quarterback. Tallman believes he has the physical traits to compete in the NFL but feels the difference-maker is between his ears.
“I know offenses very well. I was able to help get us set in the right position and I feel like that’s something I excel at, the mental aspect,” he said. “So that’s something I think is really going to help me at the next level.
“I’m not going to be the strongest center there is or the fastest center, my strength comes with my film study and being able to learn quick. And being able to adapt to situations well.”
Tallman knows sticking in the NFL is a bit of a long shot but feels it’s the natural next step in his football career.
“It’s been my dream for my entire life to play in the NFL,” he said. “It really still hasn’t hit me, that I’m getting ready to go in the NFL. Guys have said that I’ve got the size and the strength to do it, so it’s just going to be keeping up with the speed and learning the playbook from now on.”
He graduated in December with a degree in criminology but isn’t ready for life after football.
“I don’t really have a great plan, to be honest,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of ideas and options, I’m not closing anything off. Right now I’m just kind of going with the flow of life. I’m enjoying it.
“If this is my last week of training for sports, I want to enjoy myself a little bit before I find a job.”
He’s already having a good time. Preparing for the NFL Draft, whether you get the call or not, is a rare privilege.
“It’s been an unbelievable process,” Tallman said. “Something that not a lot of people get to go through. And I’m living the dream right now. I’m ready for this to happen.”