2021 NFL DRAFT

Former Katy star Fisher looking forward to NFL draft

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 4/29/21

Paddy Fisher has more than enough accomplishments in his football career to warrant the spotlight.

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2021 NFL DRAFT

Former Katy star Fisher looking forward to NFL draft

Posted

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third of a three-part series on former Katy High star Paddy Fisher. Fisher is a middle linebacker out of Northwestern preparing for the NFL draft. You can read part one of the series here and part two of the series here.

Paddy Fisher has more than enough accomplishments in his football career to warrant the spotlight.

He was a leader and dominant playmaker on Katy High’s 2015 undefeated state championship team, regarded as one of the best high school football teams ever in Texas. At Northwestern, Fisher was a two-time All-Big 10 selection, the 2020 Big 10 Linebacker of the Year, and the 2021 Ronnie Lott IMPACT trophy winner, awarded to the defensive player with the biggest I.M.P.A.C.T. (integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity) on his team.

Still, Fisher shies away from attention. Even his dreams of one day being picked in the NFL draft as he watched ESPN broadcasts over the last few years were subdued.

“I’ve never been one for the limelight, but I always thought it’d be cool to shake the commissioner’s hand and put on a team’s hat and a jersey behind the curtain. Behind the scenes,” Fisher said. “It’s not my personality to be a show.”

Fisher, 23, may not have a choice this weekend, though, as the 6-foot-3, 240-pounder is expected to be selected in this week’s NFL draft. Over the last three months, Fisher has sat down for interviews and had follow-up Zoom meetings with Minnesota, Arizona, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Orleans, the New York Jets, and the New York Giants.

The Athletic draft analyst Dane Brugler has Fisher ranked No. 25 as a linebacker prospect and a likely seventh-round pick or priority undrafted free agent. Barry Gardner, Fisher’s agent and a former eight-year NFL veteran who played for the Eagles, Browns, Jets and Patriots, said Fisher could go anywhere from rounds four to round six, based on teams he has talked to.

The NFL draft will be held in Cleveland on April 29-May 1. Round one will be Thursday, April 29. Rounds 2-3 will be Friday, April 30. Rounds 4-7 will be Saturday, May 1. The draft will be broadcast on ESPN and the NFL Network.

Gardner compares Fisher to current Denver Broncos linebacker and former Iowa standout Josey Jewell, a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Fisher’s strengths are his instincts, physicality, effort and intelligence. Doubts center around athleticism and skills in pass coverage.

“To be a team captain, the play-caller of the defense, and to have done it as consistently as he has at Northwestern, that has a lot of value, regardless of straight-line speed,” said Gardner, also a former linebacker at Northwestern. “He can play three downs and cover in the middle. He’s a space-eater; he’s got long arms. He’s intelligent. If I’m a team and I’m looking at a guy like Paddy Fisher, I’m looking at a quality backup, who can start if needed, and a special teams player and a leader on my team and in the linebacker room.

“He was voted the Big 10 Linebacker of the Year for a reason,” Gardner added. “He won the Lott IMPACT trophy award for a reason. As you look at his career and his development, he’s only gotten better each year and has been consistent. In the right system, with the right coaches and when given the opportunity, he’ll shine.”

Teams that Gardner said have a need at linebacker are Chicago (which is older at the position), Minnesota (need), New Orleans (need), the New York Giants (need for depth) and Las Vegas (need for depth).

Fisher has been in Chicago training since January, working on his lower body, hip flexibility and being more comfortable in open space. He called the draft preparation process “fluid.” It’s random. Any day, he receives calls, texts or emails from teams wanting information, whether it’s his contact number or how he’s doing health-wise.

Fisher’s focus has been not getting hopes or expectations too high.

While he admits there have been challenges with the anticipation and uncertainty of it all, Fisher said it’s been neat to see how he has adapted and adjusted mentally to the ups and downs, from the Senior Bowl to Northwestern’s Pro Day and the six weeks since. Fisher is hoping for the best fit wherever he is drafted to, not necessarily the highest draft pick or most money.

“Regardless of where it is and the money, I’d rather go to a place where I can contribute and play and be welcomed into a culture of football, opposed to being picked by a team who will pay me, but I won’t play,” Fisher said. “I want to contribute, whether it be special teams or the defensive side. I really want to contribute right away.”

Fisher will depart Chicago for Katy on Thursday, April 29. He will golf with friends on Friday. On Saturday, he will be with family, watch the draft at a neighbor’s house, and celebrate with crawfish catering and his brother’s barbecue of brisket, ribs, pork chops and smoked chicken.

“Real laid back, real low-key,” Fisher said. “Just a good day to hang out and have fun and celebrate.”

Eager to enjoy it all. The work, time and effort have been put in.

“I’m excited. I really am,” Fisher said. “I can’t wait to see what happens and spend it with family. I’m really looking forward to it.”

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