Even Van Dyk was surprised when the Rams drafted him
MAY 30, 2014 1:43p ET
ST. LOUIS -- Rams general manager Les Snead said he would have fun with the last few picks of the 2014 NFL Draft, which included three seventh-round selections.
The first of those picks, offensive tackle Mitchell Van Dyk, was as surprised as anybody when St. Louis selected him at No. 226 overall.
"I honestly didn't think I would get drafted," the Portland State product said, "but being able to get drafted is just a great opportunity and I can't wait to start with this great organization."
OK, Van Dyk had a slight clue he'd get picked. The Rams had talked to him before the draft, and then again about 10 or 15 minutes before the actual selection. The Rams "told me that they'd give me a call right before," he said. "Right before the pick came in they called me and told me, 'How would you like to be a Ram?' I was like, 'Oh yeah! Of course I would.' It was a great, great feeling."
Van Dyk was a bit of a mystery when the Rams selected him. The league's website, NFL.com, didn't even have a draft profile on him, which sent several beat writers at Rams Park on a search for whatever info they could find, the NFL Draft equivalent of Finding Bigfoot.
Indeed, the big fella exists.
Though even his height and weight were a bit of a mystery.
The Portland State roster from this past season had Van Dyk listed as 6 feet 9 and 290 pounds. In his conference call with reporters he said he is 6-8 and 315. The Rams have listed him at 6-7 and 313.
Van Dyk, a California native, was a late bloomer in high school and college. He had a growth spurt of four to five inches following his freshman year of high school, moved from tight end to offensive tackle as a senior and then arrived at Portland State as a 220-pounder.
After redshirting as a freshman, Van Dyk played in three games as a reserve the following season. From there he became a three-year starter at right tackle for a team that twice set school records for rushing (2011, 2013) and broke the record for total offense during his senior season, when he was a first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection. Though Van Dyk is more accomplished as a run blocker, Portland State's offensive line allowed only 10 sacks on 365 pass attempts last season.
Van Dyk opened some eyes at the College All-Star Game at Furman University and then at his pro day this spring.
"The all-star game was an amazing experience playing with new players and all that," Van Dyk said. "Being able to play with players I'd never played with, getting to bond over there with the coaches. Being able to learn new stuff, and it was just overall a good experience. I'd never been to South Carolina, first of all. So that was cool, being that it snowed and I'm not used to that.
"My pro day was amazing. Our school ran it well. I think I did pretty good and I think that brought my draft stock up a little bit. It was really fun."
Draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki hurriedly prepared a draft profile on Van Dyk for NFL.com after the Rams picked him: "A tough, chippy, physical college right tackle ideally suited for a zone-blocking scheme, Van Dyk displays the football temperament to compete in the run game. Must show improvement in pass pro to earn a job. Intriguing developmental prospect with a swagger desired by offensive line coaches."
After the draft, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Van Dyk, the first Portland State player to be drafted since the Denver Broncos picked tight end Julius Thomas in the fourth round in 2011, is a player "who has got left tackle/flex skills."
Van Dyk called himself as a passionate player.
"You'll see me 20 or 30 yards down the field," he said. "When there's a ball off and the receiver is catching it, I'll be right behind him, running right behind him. I'm athletic. I don't care who is in front of me. I'll play as hard as I can through the whistle. I'm a great teammate. I'll always be there for the person next to me and the whole team. I just play with passion and excitement."
Considering that he didn't think he'd be drafted, it's no surprise he had another career in mind. Van Dyk, 23, will graduate from Portland State next month with a degree in criminal justice. He did an internship at Portland's City Hall and had planned to pursue a career as a detective.
Those plans, however, will have to wait.
You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter (@natelatsch) or email him at email@example.com.