Every NFL Draft prospect is at the precipice of fulfilling a lifelong dream. In that sense, every draft pick is a success story in its own right.
But the challenges those players face to reach this moment of opportunity are far from equal. Some have been proclaimed NFL material since their days attending summer football camps at major universities. Others have had to overcome personal turmoil that threatened to derail their professional prospects.
So while guys like Jared Goff and Carson Wentz get most of the media hype entering the NFL Draft, the greatest stories are often found among the athletes whose successes are a source of inspiration for the rest of us. Once the top couple picks in the draft are doled out, keep your eyes on these seven players with incredible stories behind their NFL pursuit.
Peyton Barber, Auburn
A lot of people thought Peyton Barber could have better NFL prospects by returning to Auburn and declaring for the draft next year. But after a 1,000-yard season for the Tigers, the running back decided his family situation couldn't be ignored any longer. At the NFL scouting combine, he explained his decision to come out early: His mom is currently homeless and needs his support.
You can't blame Barber for his decision, even though he figures to be a late-round pick. If he can catch on with a team, it'll make a world of difference to his family.
"It touches my heart that he feels so deeply about wanting to take care of me," his mother, Lori Barber told AL.com. "Peyton is very quiet. ... I had no idea he was feeling that strongly as he was feeling until he decided to come out [for the draft]."
Jonathan Woodard, Central Arkansas
Barely recruited out of high school, Woodard has his life change in 2014, when his best friend Payne Shanafelt committed suicide. The experienced devastated Woodard, who had played with Shanafelt on their high school football team.
Woodard made two big changes: First, he changed his jersey number to the number Shanafelt wore in high school. Then, Woodard burst onto the scene in his final two seasons at UCA, racking up a combined 40 tackles for loss along with 25 sacks.
Woodard is projected as a late-round pick. He says the loss of Shanafelt was a driving force behind his success last season, as he continues to carry on the memory and legacy of his friend.
Great Ibe, Eastern Michigan
Most walk-ons are just happy to be there, eager to earn a scholarship down the road. Great Ibe did far much more: He took a walk-on spot at Eastern Michigan after transferring from Concordia University in Ann Arbor.
He arrived with nothing but a six-inch mattress topper, a TV set and a chair. But in three seasons he climbed to 11th all time on the EMU career tackles list, earning a scholarship along the way. Now, the son of Nigerian immigrants has molded himself into an NFL prospect.
Ibe has a chance to be taken late in the draft, but he says he won't be deterred if teams pass him by.
"My dream is to play in the NFL," Ibe tells MLive.com. "My dream isn't to get drafted, so how I get there, I don't care. I just want to get there."
Adrian Bellard, North Texas
Adrian Bellard had a nice life and a supportive father. So losing his father to a brain tumor threatened to turn Bellard's world upside-down. Instead, he used it as motivation to seize the day and make the most of his opportunities. He developed into a powerful blocker along the offensive line at North Texas, and draft scouts have graded him as a mid-round selection.
Despite the loss of his father, Bellard's family has remained a supportive unit helping him reach his goals.
"My mom and my brother call me almost every day to keep my head on the right path," Bellard tells National Football Post. "They have been the main two making sure I'm ready along with my agent, J.D. Ogilvie. He calls me every day. He keeps me right."
Winston Rose, New Mexico State
Gang violence has robbed the talent of many would-be professional athletes -- if not directly through injury and loss, then by the distractions brought on by such difficult living environments.
Winston Rose was fortunate to avoid the pressures of gang violence in Inglewood, California, where he grew up. His brother wasn't as lucky -- Rose lost his sibling due to gang violence. Instead of engaging that violent lifestyle, Rose turned toward football and used it as a means of survival and escape, earning a scholarship to New Mexico State and avoiding a similar fate as his brother.
Rose is seen as a mid-to-late round pick, with the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers expressing interest in the cornerback.
Ian Seau, Nevada
Any football fan would recognize that last name. It's no coincidence: Ian Seau is the nephew of the late Junior Seau, whose suicide in 2012 shined a bright light on the problem of concussions in football.
Ian Seau continues to follow in his uncle's footsteps: He's a defensive end/outside linebacker eyeing the NFL after an accomplished career at Nevada. He continues to chase that dream despite the somber cautionary tale Junior Seau represents in today's football culture. He's considered a late-round pick, and you can bet wherever he goes in the football world, his uncle's reputation -- and his spirit -- will follow.
Kenny Clark, UCLA
UCLA's dominant defensive tackle has had to deal with the consequences of justice for most of his life. When he was 9, his father, Kenny Clark Sr., was sent to prison on a 12-year murder conviction.
But that separation didn't keep the elder Clark out of his son's life: Kenny Jr. spoke with his dad often and was mentored in football as he grew older and developed into an imposing talent. As ESPN notes, the father and son would talk before and after football games for pep talks, suggestions and discussions of the game.
During the past few months, Clark Jr. has had to endure the challenges of NFL Draft workouts while also handling another personal battle: Since January, his father has been battling in court to get released from prison on the grounds that another person had committed the murder he was convicted for.
Kenny Jr. had hoped his father would be released in time for the draft, but the court battle wages on, and no ruling has been made. So the former UCLA star will watch the NFL Draft waiting for his name to be called, and his life changed -- but the phone call he's most excited for is one that might come from the California state prison, telling him his father is now free.