James Bradberry meets the press in Charlotte, N.C., after being drafted by the Carolina Panthers. (Courtesy Carolina Panthers via Twitter)

NFL DRAFT DIARY | Mom's toilet can wait; Panthers hope James Bradberry can fix secondary

Samford cornerback James Bradberry was selected No. 62 overall by the Carolina Panthers in the NFL Draft last Friday. He was the first of three cornerbacks the Panthers selected after the sudden departure of All-Pro Josh Norman, who signed a $65 million contract with the Washington Redskins. Bradberry was picked higher than projected — most draft gurus had him going in the third or fourth round. Prior to the draft, Bradberry had visits with the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers.

On Friday, I was at home with my mom (Rosie), sister (Takia), dad (James), grandma and some friends, some were from high school and some were from college. We were watching the draft and I watched a few picks come off the board.

You know when you’re in elementary school, when you’re being picked for a team and you know that other kids being picked ahead of you aren’t as good and you’re thinking your talent is better than them? That’s how I felt.

After it got later in the second round, I figured I’d be in the third round.

My mom was in my ear to go fix the toilet seat. We had bought a new toilet seat and it didn’t seem to fit right, so toward the end of the second round, I went to go fix the toilet seat.

Then my phone rang and I saw it was a North Carolina phone number, so I answered it and the coaches told me … I couldn’t really hear a lot because there was so much screaming in the house. Then we celebrated and screamed and stuff and then we all watched my name come across the board. And then they called me back and had me talk to the PR guy, then things settled down, everyone was kind of in shock.

My mindset was just to be ready for anything. But of course, as I was sitting there on Friday, I wanted to go in the second. I had visits with Miami and the Raiders, too, and when I saw who they picked, I thought I was going to go in the third.

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On April 21, the Panthers parted with Norman, a move that caught the NFL by surprise. In addition, starting CB Bene Benwirke continues to recover from a broken leg and the Panthers released veteran corner Cortland Finnegan.

As soon as Norman was gone … people were playing with me saying that Carolina was making room for me. It’s hard for me to say that that didn’t grab my attention, because it did, but I didn’t know if they liked someone else better.

I went to Carolina on Saturday (the day after being drafted) and pretty much just got re-introduced to all the personnel and coaches and then we went onto the field and they had a draft party for the fans, so we went up to the podium and answered some questions. Then we went and looked over some defensive plays.

I was surprised at how many fans were there and I’m looking forward to being part of their family.

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Bradberry will report to the Panthers for rookie minicamp on May 12. Between now and then, he’ll remain at home in Alabama, with a focus on staying in shape and spending time with his family and friends.

I don’t think it will really hit me until I put on my helmet and pads and get out onto the field. I was excited when I got drafted, but it’s like I’m in the twilight zone, I used to watch that show a lot when I was younger, now I know what it means.

I’m going to stay in shape and hang out with friends because I probably won’t get a chance to do that unless they come up to Carolina.

My coach said to stay up to date with the plays and they’ll be calling to see how we’re (all the rookies) doing.

Besides that, I haven’t signed with a financial advisor yet, so I have to do that, I have to get that handled because I really don’t know a lot about that. I have to study the playbook and I have to find a place to live.

What will I do with my first paycheck? I’ll probably just … that’s a good question. I’ll probably go out and buy a steak. That will be my first purchase.

Jill R. Dorson is a freelance writer based in San Diego.

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