INDIANAPOLIS––Jordan Mills was the typical little brother, tagging along uninvited everywhere big brother went, generally being a nuisance.
For Mills, spending time with his older brother also meant keeping company with his cousin too, a cousin that would go on to become a cornerback for the Green Bay Packers, Tramon Williams.
"When I was little, him and my brother played football together and I used to follow them around all the time," said Mills at the NFL Combine. "I was like six or seven trying to hang out around 14- and 15-year olds. Having them around when I was little, you know it was a great experience, it was very humbling."
Not only is Mills related to Williams, he's also a cousin to former New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers running back Brandon Jacobs.
It appears all the time following in the footsteps of his older relatives is starting to pay off. Mills is in Indianapolis this week for a job interview unlike any other, that of the NFL Combine.
Mills is dead set on becoming the next Tramon Williams, not a lockdown corner––Mills is actually an offensive lineman––but in escaping a rural Louisiana town to make a name for himself.
"He didn’t come with a silver spoon in his mouth either," Mills said of Williams. "He had to come from the bottom just like I did."
Just like Williams, Mills attended Louisiana Tech where they've experienced a good deal of success of late, winning the Western Athletic Conference in 2011 and finishing with a 9-3 record in this past season. He's started every game at right tackle the past two years and was an All-WAC first-team selection in 2012.
Combined with Oscar Johnson, Louisiana Tech has two offensive linemen represented at the NFL Combine, part of the reason the Bulldogs have been a force as of late.
"He's a very good football player," said Johnson of Mills. "Motivated, smart, tough. Very good game."
Add quarterback Colby Cameron and wide receiver Quinton Patton to the mix and you start to realize why the Bulldogs offense was so effective. Louisiana Tech led the nation in both scoring offense with 51.5 points per game and total offense with 577.9 yards per game.
Mills has been trending upward ever since the Senior Bowl where he received a late invitation to the game but showed he was every bit as worthy as the other players on the roster.
"People knew about Jordan Mills, but they didn’t really know about me," Mills said of his experience. "I came with a chip on my shoulder at the Senior Bowl to show that I belong and to be seen. Ever since then, I feel like my stock has risen and I’m here to make it rise even more."
Mills lined up primarily on the right side during the Senior Bowl, which is where his future figures lie in the NFL. Checking in at 6-5 and 316 lbs., he has a good frame to play tackle at the next level.
Considered a mid-round draft choice, Mills could be a target of the Packers if they're looking to add depth at the position. The Packers spent first round draft choices on tackles in two out of the last three drafts in Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod, but both are coming off injuries that caused them to end last season on injured reserve.
The Packers also have Marshall Newhouse as the incumbent starter at left tackle, the up-and-coming Don Barclay and last year's seventh-rounder Andrew Datko, although none were dominant performers.
Williams wasn't invited to the Combine when he came out of college, but he did offer a good piece of advice to his cousin.
According to Mills, "He said, 'No matter what you do, if you don’t show nobody nothing else, you show them your effort because no matter what they think they saw on film about you, that’s what they have to go on. When you give that effort, that’s what they want to see.'"
Coming from a guy who was cut by the Houston Texans before latching on with the Packers as an undrafted free agent, those are some astute words of wisdom.
Mills knows better than to ask his older cousin to put in a good word for him with Packers and knows his performance at Louisiana Tech, the Senior Bowl and the Combine will speak for itself.
Besides, he appears to already be on their radar. Mills said the Packers, along with general manager Ted Thompson, were the first team to pull him aside at the lobby while at the Senior Bowl.
"If I ever get up there with my cousin it would be a true honor," said Mills.
Brian Carriveau is the author of "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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