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 Colburn, 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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While some players were concerned with the position outlook of teams, Colburn is evidence that not all of the former Deacons were focused on that.
Hence, Colburn is headed to a team that features one of the league’s best running backs in Todd Gurley II and that drafted Memphis’ Darrell Henderson in the third round.
“I didn’t really pay it any mind who was there and who they picked up. At the end of the day, I’m the captain of my own ship, so what I put into it is what I get out of it,” Colburn said. “That’s kinda always how it’s been for me, how I look at things.
“And I’m confident in my ethic, my grind and my ability, and I trust full-heartedly in my Lord and I believe that if I just go crazy … and just try to get better every day, try to perfect my craft every day and do everything necessary and above everything necessary, I’ll thrive.”
Colburn was drawn to Los Angeles by how similar Coach Sean McVay’s offense is to Wake Forest’s, which allowed him to become the Deacons’ sixth-leading rusher in program history. Being a part of an organization fresh off a run to the Super Bowl is appealing to aspiring NFL players.
Colburn has never been to California — Texas is the furthest west he’s ever been, for a high school football game — and knows he’s bound for a culture shock after he graduates this month.
But he’s intent on embracing that aspect of the move, just as he’s embraced the fact that he wasn’t drafted. Colburn was as aware of his draft grade, which was to be a late-round pick or priority free agent, as he was aware of the career path of the Broncos’ Phillip Lindsay — who last season became the first undrafted offensive rookie to make the Pro Bowl.
“It’s just stuff like that that’s inspiring, and it’s something in my eyes that’s feasible,” Colburn said. “It really doesn’t matter where you go. The Broncos picked him up in free agency and he gave them first-round production, so that in itself showed me enough.”