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 Anderson, 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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There probably isn’t another player entering the league who’s better versed than Anderson when it comes to interior offensive linemen on all 32 rosters.
Anderson spent all three days of the draft — and plenty of time before it, too — researching every roster to see which teams would be the best fit for him. By the time the draft started, the three-year starter figured he would sign with the Dolphins, Lions or Texans.
When the Dolphins picked Wisconsin offensive lineman Michael Deiter in the third round, it eliminated Miami as a destination in Anderson’s mind.
“I had gotten free-agent offers from the Lions and the Texans, and was trying to make a decision with that and I knew the Dolphins’ O-Line coach (Pat Flaherty), so I called him looking for an opinion on it,” Anderson said. “He was like, ‘Well hold on, don’t rule us out.’ … He said they still wanted me there as a free agent, that there were a lot of other opportunities to make the roster.”
That made it clear to Anderson that the best fit was the one he had previously ruled out.
Anderson started the last 42 games of his Wake Forest career, and 25 of the last 26 starts came at center. He said the Dolphins see him with the ability to make the roster as a center or guard, which accounts for the one other start in the last two seasons. The first 16 starts of Anderson’s career came at right tackle.
Anderson and Haynes were both worked out by Flaherty, a Wake Forest assistant from 1993 to 1998, after the Deacons held their Pro Day. That pair will now be at opposite corners of the country, with Haynes headed to Seattle, but it’s not without a lasting connection as both head into their NFL careers.
“Phil’s projection was a lot higher than mine, so … all these workouts and stuff, whenever teams came, I can always work out then, too, and try to showcase myself a little,” Anderson said. “That was big with going through the whole workouts process where teams come and work you out, and then Phil’s position and mine were just a little different on draft day.”