By the fourth round, the Cleveland Browns hadn't taken any receivers in the draft to replace the possibly season-suspended Josh Gordon, but they're certainly loaded up on talented cornerbacks. Cleveland took Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert in the first round, and they doubled down with the addition of Lindenwood's Pierre Desir in the fourth round at 127th overall.
The first player ever to be drafted from the small college in St. Charles, Mo., Desir had interest from several major schools, but chose to stay close to his family -- including his two young daughters instead.
Though he suffered in some analyses because of his strength of competition, Desir showed up well at the East-West Shrine Game and at the Senior Bowl -- he proved that at 6-foot-1 and 198 pounds, he has the speed, aggressiveness, and ball skills to hang with the best receivers in the nation.
“What I’ve been telling people is that I did play in Division II, but I made a lot of plays, and I was able to translate that to the All-Star Games,” Desir recently told me. “Making plays in practice [at the East-West Shrine Game] and then getting invited to the Senior Bowl, and getting an interception in the Senior Bowl. For me, whether I was playing against D-II guys or D-I guys, I was still going to make plays. My level of competition was not an issue.”
And while bigger-name cornerbacks were training at elite facilities, Desir had to take a number of odd jobs just to stay afloat, which added to his overall hunger to succeed.
“I’ve done temp service jobs, where it’s just a day job, and sometimes two or three days,” he said. “I would clean sewers, I would clean out the shell casings at gun ranges, I worked at a sheet-metal factory. I painted, I picked up trash on the side of the highway, I’ve done cleanups on houses that have flooded. I’ve done a lot of crazy, different jobs, just so I can play football and still provide for my family.”
With Gilbert and Joe Haden already in the fold as potential outside corners, Desir could fit as a big press slot corner, or spell the two bigger names as need be. He's certainly shown that he has the drive to prove that he belongs in the NFL.
"I know I put in the work to put myself in position, and I know that if I just work hard enough, teams are going to be able to take a look at me and give me a chance.”
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