For NFL long shots, draft day is an unpredictable emotional roller coaster
“They said I just had to wait it out,” he said. “I had a couple offers on the table at the end of the draft, but Oakland had the best offer.”
He understood Murphy’s disappointment, but he knows how mentally tough his former — and hopefully future — teammate is.
“You’ve just got to be open to everything,” he said. “You’ve just gotta deal with it.”
That’s the mindset of all seven of the athletes who worked out together with former Oakland Raider free-agent John Madsen at JMP in Sandy this spring. Four of the men signed free-agent deals — Murphy and Williams both signed with Oakland and will report to rookie camp later this week. Martinez signed with the Seattle Seahawks, and USU lineman AJ Pataiali’i, who graduated from Hunter High, signed with the Baltimore Ravens.
Utah center Vyncent Jones was invited to two mini-camps — the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday and, if he can’t lock up a deal there, he’ll head to the Kansas City Chiefs' mini-camp on May 23.
“It’s pretty stressful just waiting around,” said Jones, who graduated from Jordan High. “I didn’t quite get what I wanted, which was a free-agent contract. But I got more than some people, so I’ll take it.”
The reality is that in the NFL almost nothing is actually a sure thing. Even those who get drafted can be cut.
While that can be a terrifying reality, it’s also a fact that gives guys like Jones hope.
“Signing a free-agent deal, you’re still not guaranteed anything,” he said. “Somebody like me could come in and beat out one of those guys. So if I can’t steal a deal with the Steelers, then it’s off to the Chiefs. It’s all down to fate. I’m prepared for anything, so let the chips fall where they may now.”
Two others who worked out with the group in hopes of earning a shot at an NFL roster — SUU offensive lineman Gavin Farr and Utah receiver Sean Fitzgerald — are still working for invitations to mini-camps or free-agent deals.
Unlike some of the men in the group, Murphy is in an unfamiliar position.
“I’ve never been in this position before,” Murphy said. “I never walked on. I’ve never been an underdog. But this definitely puts a chip on my shoulder. I feel I can bring a lot of things to the table and I’m going to try to prove that.”
Murphy said he heard the critics who said he shouldn’t have left early to declare for the draft, and there were a few moments where he may have agreed with them.
“It can go both ways,” he said. “I did think maybe I (should have stayed), but the fact that Trevor Reilly slid (to the seventh round) just confirmed everything I thought about me coming back.”
Like Murphy, Reilly served a mission for the LDS Church and he is older (26) and despite an outstanding Pro Day, many analysts speculated that his age hurt him.
“Trevor is obviously happy to be going to New York, but he’s one of the best linebackers in America,” Murphy said. “He’s someone who was first team all-Pac-12, a team captain and one little injury and being a little bit older dropped him to the middle of the seventh round. I looked at that and it was basically confirmation, especially coming off a wrist injury.”
He’s ecstatic to be headed to Oakland, especially because the team drafted teammate Keith McGill and signed Williams. All three men head to Oakland next week for the team’s mini-camp.
“I’m excited,” said Williams, whose enthusiasm was palpable. “I just wanted that opportunity. That’s all I need.”
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