It was on the family cattle ranch in Florida where Carson Wells developed his “country” strength as a youth.
Working on that ranch prepared Wells for his high school football seasons and his career at Colorado. The ranch was a blessing to keep him shape during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when CU athletes couldn’t work out in Boulder.
Naturally, it is on that ranch where Wells has spent the past couple of months as he prepares for this week’s NFL Draft.
“We just got done clearing some land,” Wells said in a recent phone interview with BuffZone. “It’s kind of like the quarantine time period all over again for me. Just kind of like a reset. It’s real nice. It definitely takes your mind off of (the draft prep). You don’t just work out for an hour or two and then just sit around all day thinking about it.”
A former outside linebacker at CU, Wells has taken that blue-collar mentality and work ethic this far and he’s hoping it helps him get to the NFL.
The first round of the draft will be Thursday, with rounds 2-3 on Friday and rounds 4-7 on Saturday. Wells is one of several former Buffs hoping to get selected, along with inside linebacker Nate Landman, offensive lineman Kary Kutsch and defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson.
CU has had at least one player selected in each of the last five drafts and Wells might be the Buffs’ best prospect this year – along with Landman.
“I’ll probably be like a third-day guy, but hopefully I hear my name pretty early on the third day,” Wells said. “You never know. You can go way higher (than projections); you can go way lower. You’ve gotta wait and see, really, how a bunch of decision makers are feeling on that day.”
Wells, who measured at 6-foot-2, 241 pounds at CU’s pro day on March 16, has spent the past few months trying to impress the decision makers.
Despite compiling 15.5 sacks and 38 tackles for loss during his career at CU and being one of the most dominant edge players in the Pac-12 the past two seasons, he didn’t earn many accolades.
Wells led the country in tackles for loss in 2020, but Pac-12 coaches only gave him honorable mention for the all-conference team. He was honorable mention again this past year despite ranking second in the Pac-12 TFLs.
“It definitely makes it easier to motivate yourself because you have all that,” he said. “Anytime you get tired or you’re feeling down on yourself, you have that kind of in the back of your mind, pushing you that people already disrespect you. So it just makes it that much easier to keep pushing yourself.”
Wells had a good week during the East-West Shrine Bowl in February, but didn’t get an invitation to the NFL combine. He did, however, impress on CU’s pro day. Although he had just 16 reps on the 225-pound bench press, he posted a 35-inch vertical leap and, most importantly, clocked in at 4.56 seconds in the 40-yard sprint.
“Going into pro day, some of the scouts thought I was gonna be running like a 4.8, 4.85, so my 40 answered a lot of questions I feel like,” he said. “Not getting the combine invite kind of goes along with my whole, like, college mantra – underdog, gotta work for everything. I’m doing well on everything that I’ve been doing so far (this offseason).”
That includes his offseason at home. In addition to helping on the ranch and flipping tractor tires as an exercise, Wells has been working out in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He has spent a lot of his time working out with former NFL safety Clint Hart, who, like Wells, is a graduate of South Sumter High School in Bushnell, Fla.
Now, it’s time to wait and find out if he’s done enough to impress an NFL team.
“We just need one, baby,” he said. “I know wherever I end up, I’m gonna do my best to stick. I’m gonna come in from day one and just show my value, whether it’s any linebacker spot – I feel like I can play any linebacker spot, really – and then come in and play on all four special teams right away. I’m just somebody you can bring in right away and I feel like I’m gonna find a spot.”
Wells said he’s not sure if he’ll watch much of the draft. He might pass the time outside on the ranch to take his mind off of the draft. But, he said, “I’m definitely gonna have my ringer on.”