Ed Thompson: How's your hamstring doing? Do you think you'll be able to do the 40 on your personal pro day on Monday?
Donnie Avery: Yeah, I'm going to do everything. I'm excited about having the pro guys coming out to see me perform.
Thompson: You did some position drill work at your team's recent pro day, correct?
Avery: I stood in one place and caught the ball from the Jaguars' wide receivers coach.
Thompson: What do the Jaguars like about your game?
Avery: They said I had good hands, I was very advanced, and I was fun to watch on film. He was very interested in that.
Thompson: Afterwards, what other teams did you talk to?
Avery: I had a sit-down talk with the New York Jets' wide receivers coach and we did board work for about an hour. He told me that he'd love to coach me, but you know how the draft is.
Donnie Avery uses his leaping ability to make a catch against SMU.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
Thompson: Did any other teams come up to and talk to you about some future workout opportunities?
Avery: I have a private workout with the Bears, I think it's on April 2, and I know the Kansas City Chiefs are really excited about me. Their special teams guy wants to work me out.
Thompson: When you were at the Combine, what was going through your head as you tried to run the forty with a pulled hamstring?
Avery: I had a meeting with probably 20-25 teams at the Combine. Every meeting I had I told them I had pulled my hamstring and I wasn't going to run. But when you're out there, you see all that competition, and you want to compete — I'm a competitive guy. I wanted to compete, so I decided to give it a try, and I was disappointed with my time because I know I'm a lot faster than that.
Thompson: Who were some of the teams you had formal interviews with at the Combine?
Avery: I had around thirteen or fourteen formal interviews. The Kansas City Chiefs, the New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, the Rams, the Colts, the Patriots, Minnesota — and that was my second time talking to those guys, I talked with them at the Senior Bowl, too, in a formal interview.
Thompson: You have that rare combination of quick feet, speed, and big hands. Is that what makes you unique in this draft class?
Avery: Yeah, I have big hands. I guess I'm an average-sized guy, but I can still get away from the best of the cornerbacks. My speed is a very good part of my ability to separate and that's what I do best.
Thompson: Everyone knows you for your speed, but your cutting ability and your willingness to catch the ball across the middle in traffic are also strengths you bring to a club...
Avery: Yeah, I'm not afraid to do that. Any ball I can catch, I'm willing to catch it.
Donnie Avery makes a nice over-the-shoulder catch in stride.
AP Photo/Bob Levey
Thompson: When you get drafted, you're going to be the first wide receiver drafted from Houston since 1992 when John Brown was selected in the seventh round by the Bears. And you should end up being the first Houston receiver to be drafted in the first three rounds since the 1970s.
Avery: Wow, that's amazing. It will be very exciting for me because I know I'll be representing the University of Houston to the fullest.
Thompson: You've been clocked at about 4.2 seconds in the past, but will you be happy if you get something in the 4.3s at your personal pro day on Monday?
Avery: Yeah, I'm just going to give it a go, probably once, and if I hit around a 4.3 I'll be good. I've talked to a lot of NFL teams and they don't really want to see me run, they want to see me run routes and stuff. They've said they compare me to Joey Galloway on film. They said there are very few guys who can run that fast in pads, so they just want to see me run routes.
Thompson: How much is your kickoff returning ability becoming a factor as you're talking to teams?
Avery: Every team wants me to play special teams and I love special teams. I know I'm not going to go into a ball club as a rookie and be the number one guy, so my deal is to get on special teams. In college, I played everything from punt return to punt and kickoff coverage to kickoff return. If I have to hold the ball on a field goal, I will do it just to be on the field.
Thompson: What do you think is going to be the key to convincing NFL coaches to pick you as high as possible in this draft?
Avery: I'm dedicated and I work everyday to be the best. I practice like it's a game. I think of the game as practice because if you're practicing hard at practice, then game-time is nothing.