Liberty wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden runs a route during a...

Liberty wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden runs a route during a game against New Mexico on Sept. 28, 2019 in Lynchburg, Va. Credit: AP/Amber Searls

Antonio Gandy-Golden has spent his quarantine working on his original true love, something his grandparents got him hooked on at a young age to help keep him from bouncing off the walls of their home on the south side of Chicago.

Puzzles.

“I do something like that every day,” said Gandy-Golden, who said he can complete a Rubik’s Cube in 44 seconds. “It’s kind of like a must for me, I would say, just to get my brain that type of real-world break, just getting to have a little fun doing them.”

At the same time, a much larger puzzle — one that Gandy-Golden started in middle school — will be completed this weekend. The standout receiver from Liberty is expected to get picked on Friday during the second day of the NFL draft, or maybe early on Saturday’s third day. 

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Gandy-Golden has been able to do almost everything that he normally would have done to prepare for the draft. He’s been working out at the independent school's facility while staying on campus and done whatever he can to help teams get the clearest possible picture of him without meeting in person.

“Of course the whole [coronavirus] thing kind of threw everything into a whirlwind,” said Gandy-Golden, on a call to promote Panini's Road to Rated Rookie docuseries (the first of three episodes about him launched Monday). “But for the most part, I think people are really doing their jobs and finding out creative ways to do things, like with the whole interview process and the other Pro Day-type things. I feel like it’s been for the most part good. Of course, it's not normal, but it hasn't been bad.”

Gandy-Golden said he’s communicated in some form with every team so far, including video interviews with eight (though he wouldn’t say which teams they were). He could be an intriguing mid-round option for the New York teams. The Jets need a wideout but may address another position in the first round, and the Giants always could use more targets for Daniel Jones.

It’s a crowded class of receivers, but Gandy-Golden knows the biggest asset is his 6-4, 223-pound frame, which he used to help him make 150 catches for 2,433 yards and 20 touchdowns in his last two seasons with the Flames.

“I think my size really helps me stand out, just because I can move well at my size,” Gandy-Golden said. “I can do a lot of things that a lot of bigger receivers don't necessarily do all the time.”

He impressed during Senior Bowl week, catching a 5-yard touchdown pass in the game and making acrobatic grabs almost every day in practice. At the Combine, he was second among receivers with 22 bench press reps, and he posted a 37-inch vertical, a 10-6 broad jump and a 4.60-second 40-yard dash.

But as a player whose football program just joined the FBS two years ago, Gandy-Golden knows that simply being at those two events — the only two major events where teams could watch and meet players in person — helped his draft stock.

Said Gandy-Golden: “Just to be able to go to those places and showcase my talents and just show that I really belong with these guys was definitely a blessing and I'm very grateful for it.”

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