The Virginia Tech offensive tackle was selected by the Denver Broncos in the sixth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday at pick No. 173 overall.
“It’s just a big relief, man, I can tell you that much,” said Painter, who had been watching the entire draft on TV.
Once one of the top recruits in the state coming out of Maury High in Norfolk, didn’t start in college until his senior season, battling some injuries and briefly dabbling with defense. Finally last year, Painter started all 13 games at right tackle, turning in a solid season and earning honorable mention All-ACC honors by the coaches.
The 6-foot-4, 306-pound Painter was considered to be a likely undrafted free agent before a strong showing at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in February. He had one of the better physical workouts of the offensive tackles there and thought he impressed several NFL scouts and general managers with his knowledge of the game.
After his pro day performance at Virginia Tech in March, he had several individual meetings set up with teams. One was with the Broncos in Denver. He flew out and met with the coaches and scouts and tour the facilities.
“I can’t really say that I got a serious feel that they would take me, but I definitely feel good about it,” Painter said. “It was nice. I enjoyed being around the staff. I saw a few of the players. I got a look at their weight room and facilities and it looked good. Looked like a good place to go to work.”
Painter got the call in the late afternoon Saturday. Several teams called to say they were taking other players but still planned to take him later in the draft. The Broncos call put an end to that, though.
The assistant o-line coach spoke first and then someone else. Third up was Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway. Did Painter think he’d be talking with a football Hall of Famer today?
“Naw, I don’t think that’s something that really crossed my mind,” he said with a laugh.
Elway tweeted this about Painter: “With our pick of Vinston Painter from Virginia Tech, he’s a hard-working, physical tackle. We like his potential.”
Painter is the first Tech offensive lineman to be taken in the draft since Ed Wang was a fifth-round pick by Buffalo in 2010.
He’s the second Virginia Tech player to be selected this year. Receiver Corey Fuller was selected by the Detroit Lions only two picks earlier.