Some of the most impactful players in the NFL’s history were not drafted.
Tony Romo. Kurt Warner. James Harrison. Jason Peters. All of these household names were not even selected in the draft. So for recent GSU players like record holding kicker Mark Orozco and linebacker De’Arius Christmas, not being one of the 254 players selected in the 2019 NFL Draft should may have not been a concern at first. But as those players weren’t selected immediately to attend rookie camps following the draft and with the preseason quickly approaching they are now possibly facing the end of their NFL football dreams, at least for now, and the opening up to the opportunity to pursue professional careers in the Candian Football League (CFL) or the soon to be rebooted XFL.
Grambling’s very own Willie Brown of the Oakland Raiders was named by sports writer Barry Werner to be the best undrafted player in team history. The Hall of Fame cornerback made the Pro Bowl nine times in his career and helped his team win three Super Bowl titles.
Players like him are examples of the skilled players that are easily overlooked, but if given the chance will prove why they are just as good, if not better than their drafted counterparts.
In the NFL, being drafted is never a definite sign of a successful professional career. Not every pick, high or low on the board, ends up being as successful as others projected them to be. Some even lead great careers outside of the NFL and developed into key players in other professional leagues. Take former Grambling State Quarterback De’vante Kincade for example. He was not selected in the NFL draft, yet has signed with the Hamilton Tigercats, a team in the eastern division of the CFL. For him, his success in college has opened eyes and opportunities wider than the lens of the NFL.
Despite not placing any players thus far this year in the NFL, Grambling has had recent success with players making great strides in the league. Chester Rogers, a walk-on for the Tigers during his collegiate career, helped the Indianapolis Colts reach the No. 2 spot in the division and finish their season with a loss in the divisional round of the playoff race. Trent Scott, a former GSU star, plays offensive tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers who made their first playoff appearance last season since the 2013 season. Both players went undrafted, yet still landed key spots on an NFL roster.
At Grambling State’s Pro Day in March, 15 NFL teams sent scouts to watch in the training and document the effort in drills ran with the players. Among standouts like Orozco, defensive tackle Rodney Jackson caught the attention of many with his tackling and away from the ball abilities.
Darrell Brown, offensive linemen for Grambling, also drew attention to himself, using his playing career as a resume helping the scouting report.
Orozco has been at the top of the list of available kickers and received interest from the Chicago Bears but remains unsigned as well.
August 1 is the first day for the preseason for the NFL’s centennial season, starting off with the Hall of Fame game. Teams will have until August 31 to limit their roster to 53 players, so the verdict is still out on players signing with any team.
With multiple announcements of retiring and cutting of players as well as injuries that are bound to occur early on in the preseason and regular season, hope for a call to practice squads or selection to the active roster is still high for the standout Grambling players from the 2018 season.