With picks 115 (round 4) and 232 (round 7), the Denver Broncos selected two new cornerbacks in Pittsburgh’s Damarri Mathis and Wisconsin’s Faion Hicks.
Both cornerbacks met with the press last night to talk about getting drafted, and their futures with the organization. It’s an exciting time!
Damarri Mathis was asked about his reaction to being drafted, and whether he thought he made an impression at the Senior Bowl.
“Well, I had a Zoom through this process. I had a really good Zoom with them leading up to the draft. I just got that call out of nowhere. It kind of scared me a little bit,” he admitted, “I was excited. I already knew what team it was, and I’m just excited, ready to get there and work and just compete.”
The cornerback said that he played basketball and football growing up, and that his mom played basketball and was JUCO. He believes his background in basketball contributed to his high vertical leap (43.5 inches).
Mathis described what it was like being out on injury in 2020 due to an injury, and coming back to play in Pittsburgh the following season. “I ended up tearing my labrum and missing the whole 2020.”
“I had a good rehab. My off-season I felt like it was one of my best off-season’s at Pitt,” he continued, “Just coming back and playing at a high level felt really good getting back out there. I had like no problems or anything with my injury.”
Asked about his prior knowledge of the Broncos, Mathis confessed that he doesn’t know much. “I know about Russell Wilson obviously...I know about Pat Surtain II—he’s from the area.” As he went on to explain, he’s from central Florida and PS2 is from south Florida.
“I know some players on the team, and I just know they have a good program, good defense and a good situation,” he said, “I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
Speaking of Surtain, Mathis believes that coming from the same state is going to strengthen their bond as players. “It will be great—we’re both from Florida. I feel like that’s a really good connection with us. I’m just ready to work with all my teammates.”
GM George Paton, recalling a live game he’d seen Mathis play, noted that he liked everything about him and that game.
“Then when you study the tape,” he went on, “he has all the tools to be a very good corner in this league. He needs to clean up some technique. He had too many penalties, but I think all his flaws are correctable. This guy is really, really, talented.”
Faion Hicks was asked about the amount of contact he had with Denver prior to the draft. “Not much contact,” he replied, “I had the chance to hop on a Zoom call with one of the quality control guys and we had a good meeting—It was good vibes. It was fun.”
He also admitted that he was worried he would go undrafted. “Yeah, I was definitely getting nervous,” he stated, “Just sitting here with my family and them keeping me up. When I finally got that call, it was a big weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Hicks agreed with an interviewer that his speed at pro day (he ran a 4.37 40) likely contributed to his success on draft weekend. That speed will also help him if he plays special teams in the future, as it has in the past. The cornerback played gunner quite a bit in college, and he said he “got moved around a lot.”
“I’m very comfortable with special teams,” he said, “That’s something that we harped on at Wisconsin and was really the main reason I got on the field at Wisconsin so anyway the team needs me to contribute, even on special teams, I’m willing to do it.”
Faion played with Matt Henningsen at Wisconsin and has a lot of praise for the DE, saying, “It’s going to be big-time to have a guy I can lean on, especially a guy like Matt who’s super smart.”
Elaborating on the Mind of Matt, he added, “He’s one of the smartest dudes I’ve got a chance to meet. I was just honored to play next to him and say that I went to school with him.”
Paton seemed to echo Hicks’ sentiments about Henningsen, and he spoke highly of both players. “These guys are our type of guys—we call them ‘GIFTS,’ I’ve mentioned that before,” he stated, “Really good off the field. Incredible on the field—Incredible football character on the field.”