The thrill of the NFL Draft comes with the agony of not being selected for hundreds of college football players.
But in the minutes after the draft — and in some cases, in the final minutes of the draft — agony can quickly turn into a renewed focus and motivation.
That was the case for several former Wake Forest players last weekend. Six players signed as undrafted free agents — receiver Alex Bachman and running back Matt Colburn II with the Rams, receiver Greg Dortch with the Jets, safety Cameron Glenn with the 49ers, offensive lineman Ryan Anderson with the Dolphins and defensive tackle Willie Yarbary with the Falcons. A seventh, defensive end Chris Calhoun, was invited to the Arizona Cardinals’ rookie mini-camp.
Offensive lineman Phil Haynes was the only Wake Forest player picked in the draft, but he’s hardly the lone former Deacon entering the NFL.
Here are the feelings of Bachman, one of four former Wake Forest players who shared what it was like to sign with a team after going undrafted last weekend:
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Bachman went to college roughly 2,500 miles from his home, so maybe it makes sense that he’s joined an NFL team in his backyard.
After all, they’re one of several teams that wanted him — something not that common in Bachman’s football career.
“I was telling some guys that the Chargers were actually really mad at me that I wasn’t going to sign there and I was going to sign with the Rams,” Bachman said, “and that was the first time I’ve ever had to choose between teams and where to go, because in high school I wasn’t really wanted by anybody except for Wake.”
Undersized at 6-foot, 190 pounds and overlooked throughout his career, Bachman turned heads at Wake Forest’s Pro Day. If his seven-catch, 171-yard performance in the Birmingham Bowl didn’t put him on the radar of NFL teams, his explosive showing in McCreary Field House did.
But getting a phone call from one of those teams to say they were going to draft him never happened — so he signed with the team he knew wouldn’t be calling.
“If I was to be taken by the Rams, I knew it was going to be if I didn’t get drafted,” Bachman said, noting their depth at receiver. “Before the seventh round even started, our paperwork was already beginning with the Rams.”
Bachman had to hold off on completing that paperwork until one of the last picks of the draft, though. The Rams held the 251st pick of 254 total, and Bachman was going to sign only if they held firm on their pledge to not draft a receiver.
With that pick, the Rams drafted Texas Tech linebacker Dakota Allen of "Last Chance U" fame.
“They told me at the beginning of draft month that I was the No. 1 receiver on their board, and they were hoping because it wasn’t a huge position of need … they were hoping I fell to them because they really felt like I was a guy that could help out their team,” Bachman said.
Bachman pointed out that when he came to Wake Forest, the most-familiar face to him was assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Kevin Higgins, and that it was a difficult transition in a new place without established connections.
Now, Bachman is joining an NFL team with former Wake Forest teammates at quarterback (John Wolford) and running back (Colburn).
“It’s just cool because not only am I going to be able to see my family every night, but I also have guys in camp that I’m comfortable with,” Bachman said. “For me, going to Wake and having that transition is going to be way harder — or was — way harder than this is probably going to be for me because I have a lot of familiar faces and personalities going in.”