A crowd quickly gathered around the stage as Dorial Green-Beckham hopped up a few stairs Thursday at the NFL Combine.
Green-Beckham, 21, was speaking to reporters for the first time in nearly one year, a period in which he was accused of violence against women, dismissed from the Missouri football team and enrolled at Oklahoma, where he didn’t play last fall because of NCAA transfer rules. That, and being a 6-foot-5, 237-pound wide receiver with a massive catch radius and impressive athleticism, tends to invite interest — and scrutiny.
“It’s very tough for me,” Green-Beckham said when asked about his past. “It’s tough for me, standing up here and be able to speak in front of all you guys because I have not spoken in the past year.”
It was also tough, Green-Beckham said, to sit out last season after a breakout sophomore campaign at Missouri in which he caught 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns.
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“I’m disappointed in myself for the mistakes I (made) at Missouri,” Green-Beckham said. “I wish I could have still finished out there, still been a home(-state) guy, stayed in Missouri. I regret all the mistakes I’ve done. …
“I want to come in and stay on track and focus on one thing only, and that’s competing here at the combine. Just going in and being the best I can be and letting everybody know what I came here to do.”
Green-Beckham’s goal is to convince NFL teams — including the Chiefs, who hold the 18th pick in the draft — they should invest a high draft pick in him, despite increased scrutiny around the league regarding domestic violence.
“Physically, we think he has all the gifts in the world,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said Thursday. “We’ve all admired him, all of us who have been in the state of Missouri and Kansas City area have seen him from afar and admired his physical traits. I think now what people want to do is kind of get a feel for him as a person and see where he is.
“We’ll be meeting him in the next couple days, and I look forward to it.”
Green-Beckham, who’s from Springfield, Mo., was dismissed from the MU football team last spring after he allegedly forced his way into an apartment and allegedly pushed one of the female residents down a flight of stairs while looking for his girlfriend. He was not arrested by Columbia Police because the alleged victims declined prosecution.
“All the decisions I made, I wish I could take it back,” said Green-Beckham, who added he wouldn’t go into detail about his mistakes. “What’s happened has happened. I was young, I made mistakes. I understand that. …
“I’m just trying to focus on one thing; being a better person and a better teammate and a better person off the field.”
Green-Beckham repeated phrases like “looking forward” and words like “maturing” often. It was a message he will surely repeat to NFL teams this week as he tries to explain his past, which also includes two marijuana arrests.
In October 2012, Green-Beckham and three teammates were arrested in a parking lot near Memorial Stadium in Columbia for misdemeanor possession of fewer than 35 grams of marijuana. All four later pleaded guilty to second-degree trespassing.
In January 2014, Green-Beckham was arrested for alleged possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, a felony. He was riding in a car that was stopped for an expired tag in Springfield, and a search of the vehicle turned up nearly one pound of suspected marijuana.
Another passenger in the car said the marijuana was his, and charges were never filed against Green-Beckham.
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, who has Green-Beckham as his fourth-best receiver in this draft class, said the talent might be worth the risk, even though he remains raw as a prospect, too.
“What happens sometimes is the ability and talent of the athlete overwhelms the other analysis, and that’s where we make a lot of mistakes,” Mayock said. “You go, wow, remember someone fell, right? Give you an example.
“Wide receiver Green-Beckham this year is going to be a polarizing conversation. I go back to several years ago and Dez Bryant couldn’t do his Pro Day at Oklahoma State because they wouldn’t allow it. I was at his Pro Day at his high school.
“(Justin) Blackmon was the fifth pick in the draft. The kid, (Josh Gordon) from Cleveland, second-round supplemental pick. All three of those guys (were) gifted, gifted wide receivers with significant off-the-field issues. One of the three has turned out, Dez Bryant. That is probably about the right ratio.”
After leaving Missouri, Green-Beckham landed at Oklahoma, where he worked out but couldn’t appear in games. Oklahoma tried to get a waiver from the NCAA to allow Green-Beckham, Rivals’ No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2012, to play right away.
“The opportunity was there, everything just didn’t fall in the right hands,” Green-Beckham said. “It wasn’t anything I could just sit on and be angry or upset about. I had to just focus on the things I needed to focus on.”
No off-field incidents have come to light since he arrived at Oklahoma, and he says he was determined to be a good teammate, which he hopes NFL teams notice.
“Showing them what I’ve done the last year, my Oklahoma time … how much maturing I’ve done,” Green-Beckham said. “(I’ve) grown up from this and taken advantage of it and not looked back.”
Still, rather than staying in school another season — a move he conceded could have made his draft stock “a lot higher” next year — Green-Beckham decided to come out for the draft.
“Yes, I do feel like those mistakes have put me back (in the eyes of teams),” Green-Beckham said. “I’m just trying to look forward. …
“(I was) maturing, spending my time with the coaches and the players, (spending) more hours in study hall. Doing all that stuff makes me a better person.”
Now, Green-Beckham has to convince teams — including the Chiefs — this is truly the case.
“The past few months have been real tough for me,” he said. “Missing the whole season, missing playing with my teammates, missing football, period … looking from the outside in, seeing things that I’ve never seen before, I just want to take advantage …
“I know what’s at stake. I know what type of person I am, and I understand (what teams are) looking for from me as a person. I just want them to know I’m gonna go out there and give my all, show everybody what I’m capable of doing and just focus on being the best player I can be.”