By Brandyn Campbell, Player Engagement Insider
As the 2016 NFL Draft nears, mock draft mania is at its peak. Who will be the first overall pick, and how will the order fall from there? As the spotlight of the sports world falls upon the soon-to-be rookies, what statement will they choose to make as they walk the gold carpet at the Auditorium Theatre?
As players like North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz and Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey prepare to find out their new teams and strive to acclimate to the next level in their careers, we take a look back at the 2015 NFL Draft for a review of the looks and personal styles that may inspire the 2016 draftees.
Vibrant colors and vivid patterns headlined last year’s gold carpet. To mark the start of their professional careers, last year’s prospects boldly wore what few men had worn before.
Just prior to making news as the third overall pick in 2015, Jacksonville’s Dante Fowler, Jr. (defensive end out of the University of Florida) turned heads with his Draft look. Wearing a white suit with red detail around the lapel and pockets, he accented his ensemble with gold and white bow-tie. His appearance exuded confidence.
And then there were Fowler’s shoes, which made headlines of their own. His gold-spiked Christian Louboutin shoes gleamed and glittered, matching, but certainly not blending into, the gold carpet as they moved past spectators.
Spikes were also a part of current Texans Kevin Johnson’s shoe game. The cornerback out of Wake Forest opted for black spikes to accent his royal blue suit. Johnson admitted to the NFL Network that his attire was inspired by the look seen on pop star Justin Bieber at his roast, but the shoes were all him.
The 2015 draft was a big year for plaid on the gold carpet, with Baltimore Ravens wideout Breshad Perriman (Central Florida) donned a white and blue print with a large gold ring to accessorize. Esquire magazine was a particular fan of the blue and green variety rocked by Minnesota Vikings corner Trae Waynes (Michigan State), whose sublime tailoring helped propel Esquire magazine to declare his blue and green plaid suit to Esquire’s #1 best outfit from 2015’s Draft.
Texans teammate, linebacker Benardrick McKinney (Mississippi State) revealed an ability to expertly mix prints on last year’s gold carpet, wearing a classic pinstripe suit paired with a checked shirt and paisley tie. He confessed that his Draft look was a family affair, seeking help from a trusted expert: “My mom always picks out what she wants me to wear,” McKinney said
Danny Shelton’s family played a special role in his draft attire as well, paying homage to his Samoan heritage. The Cleveland Browns nose tackle (drafted out of the University of Washington) wore a red Ula Fala necklace, made from the fruit of the pandanus tree, a piece traditionally worn by chiefs. This accented a lavalava, a skirt-like sarong, which he wore paired with a half maroon, half print vest with bow tie with lines echoing those of the necklace.
Danny Shelton and his family show support to his Samoan heritage at 2015 NFL Draft
D.J. Humphries’ (Florida) Draft look was all about subtle elegance and comfort. His gray shawl collar tuxedo jacket with black lapel, black polka dot pocket square was paired with classic black trousers and black velvet slippers. “As soon as I declared for the draft I knew I’m wearing velvet shoes on the gold carpet,” the Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle said.
Browns guard Cameron Erving (Florida State) also opted for a velvet accent for his deep red suit with black lapels, this time in the form of a red velvet bow-tie with pearl detail down the middle, presenting a modern twist on classic staples.
Who will be the next Von Miller when it comes to NFLStyle, and what trends will emerge on this year’s gold carpet? Roy Burton of The Broad Street Line podcast and editor with SB Nation hopes that this year’s prospects fully embrace the moment with their fashion choices. “We've seen virtually every suit, blazer and tuxedo that there is - it would be great to see a bit more emphasis placed on accessories this year,” Burton said.
In contrast, War Room Sports co-founder Devin McMillian hopes to see players get back to basics. "I'm a classic man," McMillian said. “Guys have gone overboard in the past few years. I hope to see some classic, tailor-fit designs at the NFL Draft.”
What they do with cleats and helmets in the uniforms of their new teams at the next level of their careers is the statement that matters most. Come April 28, we’ll see how players choose to integrate their personal style into that mix. Will bold patterns and accessories rule the night, or will classic elegance reign supreme? It’s all part of the uncertainty that fuels the excitement of the lead-up to the Draft.