Exclusive: Prospect Markus Bailey Talks NFL Draft, Motivation, and More

Feb 27, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Purdue linebacker Markus Bailey (LB02) speaks to the media during the 2020 NFL Combine in the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Despite two major injuries, Purdue’s Markus Bailey enters this year’s 2020 NFL Draft in hopes of proving himself to an NFL team, and at least two teams have showed strong interest.

The 6-foot, 235-pound linebacker started in all 13 games for the Boilermakers as a redshirt freshman after suffering a torn ACL during his true freshman year in 2015. That season, Bailey led Purdue with 97 tackles (six for loss) and four interceptions.

Throughout his on-and-off five-year career at Purdue, Bailey accumulated 324 total tackles (28 for loss) and six interceptions.

In 2019, during his redshirt senior season, Bailey’s season was cut short due to a knee injury

Bailey, who resides from Columbus, Ohio, was “happy to play anywhere in the Big Ten” despite not getting an offer from his hometown Buckeyes. Bailey used that lack of an offer as motivation when the two faced off in West Lafayette, Indiana, in October of 2018 when the linebacker intercepted now-Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins. The 41-yard pick-six led the Boilermakers to one of the major upsets in college football that season as Purdue knocked off No. 2-ranked Ohio State.

Even though Bailey has been faced with two season-ending knee injuries in college, the lack of interaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and injury concerns from NFL scouts, he says proving doubters wrong isn’t his main drive.

“Unfortunately, my injury has, without a doubt, impacted my draft status,” says Bailey. “That, combined with the absence of in-person interactions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, has limited my opportunities to show teams that I’m ready to play football. In terms of my motivation to come back and play next season, constantly seeing that I have ‘injury concerns’ adds a little fuel to the fire, but it’s not my source of motivation. I’ve always been driven to be the best.”

Bailey hopes that his versatility will help add value to an NFL roster in the upcoming draft on April 23. “I’ve played outside backer out in space over slot receivers in a 4-3 over, I’ve played outside backer on the edge in a 3-4, I’ve played in the box as an inside backer behind a plethora of fronts, I’ve shown the ability to be disruptive and add value as a pass rusher, etc. Versatility is a desired quality, and I’ve shown that in my career.”

One team that could use Bailey’s talents are the New England Patriots. With a major need at the linebacker position after the departure of Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, the Patriots and their coaching staff have been in constant talk with Bailey.

“The Patriots are one of the teams that have shown some interest. I had a FaceTime interview with linebackers coach Jerod Mayo for about an hour a few weeks ago. We talked some ball and he got to know me a bit more.”

While Bailey says that there’s not a specific team that he has a preference playing for, the Bengals have shown the most interest.

“There have been several teams that have reached out during this unusual post-combine, pre-draft process, but if I had to pick a team that has shown the most interest lately, it would be the Cincinnati Bengals.”

Bailey says that “there’s not a specific team” that he wants to play for and keeps iterating that he “will be happy to get drafted by any team,” which is something he also said coming out of high school before making the Boilermakers a top collegiate defense. Bailey’s hopes are that an NFL team takes a chance on him like Purdue gave him a chance back in 2015.

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