Former Oregon wide receiver Dillon Mitchell is now a professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings with a Tommy Hilfiger deal pending and driving a custom Lamborghini Gallardo as a draft gift from a Memphis car dealership.
Although those perks are thrilling, Mitchell is most excited to get to Minneapolis, Minnesota for Vikings rookie mini-camp to show that he belongs in the National Football League.
Projected to go as high as the second round, the Vikings drafted Mitchell with the 239th overall pick in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft in what has been widely considered as a “steal.” As the wait prolonged for Mitchell to hear his named called, many wondered, did the junior make the right decision to turn professional?
“Looking back I definitely feel like I made the right decision for myself,” Mitchell said. “Going forward, I believe at the next level, with great coaches and great people around me, I will only build up my skills. I’m happy with my decision.”
Coming off of the best seasons a Duck has ever had, Mitchell’s mindset never wavered; he had zero moments of doubt. As more teams passed him up, Mitchell held tight, knowing his opportunity would come. The Memphis-native stayed calm by being around his close circle of family and friends in his hometown and taking naps.
Mitchell’s agent told him they were aiming for day two of the draft (rounds two through four), but when day three arrived and a team hadn’t called yet, Mitchell began to revel in being a “diamond in the rough” and went out to breakfast with his family on Saturday morning.
“As the days and the picks dwindled, the size of the chip on my shoulder increased,” Mitchell said.
When he finally got the call, he pressed pause on the Sherlock Holmes movie he was watching with his fiance, former Oregon track and field athlete and current Nike sprinter, Deajah Stevens. He expected to have tears of joy but Mitchell described the moment he got drafted as “life changing.”
He plans on using that determination to compete for the Vikings’ vacancy for a third receiver from the jump. Mitchell’s ability as a ball carrier, excellent route running, efficient footwork and yards after catch potential make him an enticing weapon for the Vikings.
The biggest slight on Mitchell, who holds Oregon’s record for single season receiving yards with 1,184, on any draft profile is the concern with his work ethic in the weight room. Right now, the 6-foot-1 receiver is weighing in at 205 pounds after adding five pounds of muscle working out ahead of the draft. He plans on becoming more of a “gym rat” to build a solid base to compete at the next level.
Interestingly, Mitchell will get to learn from two veterans that know his situation very well. Recent history shows the Vikings have success in bringing in under-the-radar receivers and making a success out of them. Minnesota selected Stefon Diggs in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, while Adam Thielen went undrafted in 2013 before attending a rookie tryout and signing a three-year, $1.48 million contract as an undrafted free agent.
“It definitely shows me that their coaching staff and organization invests and believe in their players when they draft them,” Mitchell said. “It’s showed me that anything is possible, you don’t have to be a top-four round pick. Thielen, he’s one of the best receivers I’ve ever seen, and Diggs, I’m just so excited to get there and follow in the footsteps of guys like them, plus the history of Cris Carter and Randy Moss."
Getting drafted by Minnesota was a “dream come true,” but it was also a shock. The Vikings did not bring Mitchell out for a pre-draft workout or reach out prior to day three of the draft.
Mitchell celebrated with a good old-fashioned BBQ in his hometown of Memphis. To show appreciation to his closest friends, he gifted them Oregon jerseys from this breakout junior season. Then, he flew to Los Angeles to pick up the rest of his stuff and reports in Minnesota on Thursday. He can’t wait to explore the city of Minneapolis, which he has visited once before on a basketball tournament trip in high school.
Mitchell is turning a new leaf with a new jersey number, 13 (his number at Oregon) was available but the receiver decided to start a new era of his career wearing the number 17 in purple. He laughed as he divulged that purple is his favorite color, a dangerous statement considering the former Ducks rival Washington sports the same color.
In Minneapolis, he will be reunited with former Washington quarterback Jake Browning and Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion, both competing for the backup role behind Kirk Cousins.
“It’ll be a little weird now being on the same team, but I’m excited because I know those guys are excited and great people.” Mitchell said.
His four-year contract is projected to be worth $2,600,316 with a $80,316 signing bonus, according to OverTheCap.com. Mitchell plans on saving his signing bonus and the rest of the checks for the season, while living off the Tommy Hilfiger deal.
Mitchell isn’t done at Oregon, though. He has aspirations to finish his Bachelor’s Degree in political science. He is only two quarters of classes away and plans on taking online classes during season and will return to Eugene to take a few more classes in the offseason. With his political science degree, Mitchell’s goal is to become the mayor of Memphis, but first, he’s focusing on priority one: helping bring a Super Bowl to Minnesota.