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NFL Draft Day: Oklahoma's Ronnie Perkins has drawn strength from being patient

After missing half of last season on NCAA suspension, Perkins has been eager to talk to NFL teams about his situation — but now he's ready to show them

The 2021 NFL Draft has arrived. In a matter of hours, Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields and Zach Wilson the rest will hear NFL commissioner Roger Goodell call their names from the podium in Cleveland.

No matter how long Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins has to wait today or Friday or even Saturday, he’ll be patient. He’s waited before.

In fact, Perkins found strength in waiting — a strength he put on display every week in how hard he played over the Sooners’ final six games of the 2020 season following his returning from a NCAA suspension.

“I think definitely the way I played when I came back for the season,” Perkins said last month, “I was watching myself stack up against other edge guys; I was definitely confident I could take the jump to the next level.”

Perkins said he never felt the need to defend his character during the pre-draft interview process, so he just explained what happened with the failed drug test and how he responded to it. He said he got the feeling that NFL teams hadn’t raised that red flag too high.

“Nah, I'm not really worried about missing half the season affecting my draft status,” Perkins said. “Like I said, got to talk to teams, got to tell them the situation and how everything played out. Really, it's all up to the team at the end of the day. It's all up to that team and how they feel about the situation.

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“A lot of teams ask tough questions, but at the same time, you've got to understand, they're taking a big investment in you so of course they've gotta ask those tough questions if they're gonna take a chance on you and take you with a first-, second- or third-round pick. They've got to know everything.”

Most of the conversations, Perkins said, were about lighter topics.

“Talking about the way I grew up, small stuff, all the way to talking ball, talking about watching my film from college and talking them through plays,” he said. “I’d say I've been doing a great job with everything, handling everything, communicating everything that a team wants to know.”

Perkins said he actually felt better about things after talking with all the teams because it allowed him to describe the fire inside that drives the effort he puts into each play.

“My competitiveness,” Perkins said. “With me, I play with an edge. I hate to lose. One thing I've been telling teams in my interviews is, I love to win but I hate to lose. That's the biggest thing with me. I hate losing. You'll be getting a competitive guy. I also tell them, you'll be getting a guy who plays angry, every snap.

“It's been a great process,” Perkins said. “It’s what I've been dreaming about since I was a kid. So I'll never say it's overwhelming or it's too much. It's fun. It's great. It's what I asked for, so I'm happy to be getting it.”