NFL Draft Diamonds Spotlight Interview: Orleans Darkwa, RB, Tulane
How many teams were recruiting you out of high school?
About 5 FBS schools, and 3 FCS schools(offer wise).
How did you come to make your college decision?
Through discussions with my parents and countless prayers. I felt that Tulane would not only satisfy my needs on the field, but also in the classroom. Coming out of that university with a degree is a true accomplishment.
Where are you training, and what are your goals for pro day/combines?
I will be training in LA with Athletic Gaines. I am hoping for a great all around performance. My goals are personal, but I hope to positively answer any questions the scouts have when the time comes.
Have any scouts met with you, and if so what are they saying?
No scouts have met with me personally, but they have spoken to my coaches.
At your position, what separates you from the others?
I believe that my work ethic is one thing that separates myself, but I also believe my abilities in pass protection are something I excel in. I play smart on the field as far as identifying certain things before the play, and minimizing mistakes. Every running back attempting to go to the next level can run the ball. It is the attention to detail that separates the group.
Tell us what you look for when breaking down film?
I look for the offensive formation, and how the defense responds to it. From the defensive line, all the way up to the secondary. I pay close attention to the linebackers, and their initial first step. How aggressive is each player to the ball? Do the players in the secondary tend to tackle low or high? How do the linebackers move laterally? There are several things I look at when I watch film, but those are examples of the things I pay close attention to.
Who was the toughest player you have ever faced?
I can’t remember any particular player, but there have been several tough teams I have faced throughout my college career.
If you could compare your play to one person in the NFL who would it be?
I would say Marshawn Lynch. I feel that he is an every-down back that excels in both pass protection and running. I model my game after him. Ironically his running style is applicable to life. When watching him run, his feet never stop moving and he always is looking to move forward. I see myself in this same light.
What was the biggest obstacle in your life you had to overcome, and how did you overcome it?
Dealing with injuries was tough. Missing games, or not being able to play to the best of my ability challenged me physically and mentally, so I took the initiative of making sure I was in the best shape possible going into my senior year and it has paid off. Eating well, and improving my flexibility were my main priorities going into the off season, and will continue to be as I prepare for the draft.
What system fits your style of play the best?
I don’t have a preference, but I’m confident in my ability to adjust effectively to any system.
What is your biggest strength?
Coming from an offense that was straight out the Saints playbook, I feel that I gained tremendous experience in understanding NFL terminology, reading defenses, and especially pass protection. Protecting the QB is one of the most important aspects of the game, and that is something I take pride in.
What is your biggest weakness?
I am my biggest critic. Often I see where I can do better and really beat myself up about it. It is pretty hard to have a one-play memory, but I have gotten a bit better at it. The perfectionist in me even critiques on plays that were successful.
If I were a GM and gave you a minute to sell yourself, what would you say?
Dedication, Spirit of Excellence, and Accountability. These are three qualities that I possess. Every down at practice, games, and even in film, I will bring these qualities to every aspect of my game. I demand this of those around me as well. My success is not limited to on the field, I seek to be a role model off the field as well.
Growing up, who was your role model?
Steve McNair, he exemplified courage and toughness. He also showed that it doesn’t matter where you attend school. If you work hard, and make the most of your opportunity, you can excel.
Who was your favorite team and player in the NFL and why?
Being from Nashville, I have always been a loyal Tennessee Titans fan, and continue to be. As far as player, I believe Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the league, therefore I enjoy watching him play.
If you were to have dinner with three people dead or alive who would it be?
Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Kendrick Lamar.
What would you buy with your first NFL paycheck?
Probably my next meal, but the first big thing I would get would be something for my parents. A thank you present for dealing with me for 22 years and counting.