It might be a good thing former Missouri left tackle Mitch Morse wasn’t selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft on Thursday night.
Morse, a 6-foot-5 and 305-pound prospect from Austin, Texas, who profiles as one of the most versatile and athletic linemen in the draft, is ready for the grueling months-long draft process to be finished.
“It’s kind of nice to have some closure on what’s going to happen,” Morse said. “There’s been so many unknowns for the last few months. Now, everything’s coming to an end. It’s good for me, and I think this whole thing has given my family a (dang) heart attack. It will be nice for them to have some closure as well.”
But if Morse, who received a third-round grade from CBS Sports’ draft analysts, had been picked during the first round, ending the anxious wait far earlier than expected, he might have landed in trouble.
“It’s pretty much set in stone that nothing’s going to happen today,” Morse said Thursday by phone when asked about the possibility of being drafted on one of the first two days rather than waiting until Saturday to hear his name called. “If it does, you won’t find me. I’ll be streaking through the neighborhood. Honestly, though, any day would be great to hear my name called.”
Morse arrived at MU as a guard, which is where he practiced early in his career. but he played mostly center with a few snaps at guard in 2012.
As a junior, Morse moved to right tackle in 2013, emerging as one of the Tigers’ top linemen, before stepping into Seahawks right tackle Justin Britt’s shoes at left tackle as a senior last fall.
He’s looking forward to settling into a position for the long-term with an NFL team. Most analysts peg Morse as a guard at the next level.
“It really doesn’t matter where I play, but I would like to have the opportunity to stay in one position for a little bit,” Morse said. “I was bouncing around so much here at Mizzou.”
Morse said he couldn’t pinpoint a single team that has shown more interest, but that he continues to hear from numerous teams.
He didn’t have a rooting interest in any particular NFL team growing up, so no allegiances will be tested whenever he’s drafted.
“I really don’t care,” Morse said.
Morse said he’ll watch the draft at home with his parents, Kevin and Catherine, and his girlfriend. It’s been an arduous process for those close to him as well.
“They lose sleep over it,” Morse said. “I come back after being out with my girlfriend, and they’re watching the NFL channel. I think they’re enjoying the experience as much as I am. My dad is researching teams and breaking down which teams need who. He’s always calling me about it, but it’s fun. It really gets them engaged in what’s going on with my life. We get to connect on another level.”
Morse said he appreciates the continued support from Britt, a second-round pick from Missouri last spring who has provided counsel throughout the draft process.
St. Louis center Tim Barnes, who was a senior when Morse was a freshman, also has served as a mentor during the last few months.
“He really set the tone for a lot of the offensive linemen when I was a freshman, and I saw him the other day,” Morse said. “People forget that he’s had a great career. He’s getting ready to start his fifth year and St. Louis. … He and Justin — Justin especially — have been a great resource for me.”
Now, he hopes to land in a spot where he’s as comfortable and content as he became with the Tigers.
“It’s definitely exciting to see how my life’s going to change here in the next few days, but anxious because I have to become part of a new team and find a dynamic and a chemistry with other players …,” Morse said. “I have to make my mark and prove myself again, but that’s all right.”
Wherever he lands, he hopes there’s postgame dance parties in the locker room.
“That whole 2013 season was just one helluva ride,” Morse said when asked about his favorite MU moment. “It accumulated to point where I think my favorite memory was the locker room after the Cotton Bowl. Matt (Hoch) is a good friend of mine, and he was just so overjoyed. It was just fun. The best part of football is the locker room after a victory, and we got to celebrate a season that really showed how hard we worked on and off the field.”