July 24, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Deonte Thompson (83) practices during the Baltimore Ravens opening day of training camp at the team practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-US PRESSWIRE
When the 2012 NFL Draft was over, University of Florida WR Deonte Thompson was surprised that no team called his name during the previous seven rounds. Understandably, the pure numbers did not add up to a lot of personal statistics, but to be playing in the SEC, easily the toughest and most NFL-ready football conference in the country had to stand for something, didn't it?
Add in the 4.32 seconds 40-yard dash, and you could have a Special Teams playmaker on your team from the time he set foot in Training Camp. So why was he ignored by all 32 NFL teams? How did he feel on draft day and what happened when the undrafted free agent calls began to come and why did he chose to try out for the Baltimore Ravens when they called him?
I had a few minutes to speak privately with Deonte, and we spoke about that heart-breaking draft day as well as the favorable impression he's had with the Ravens, highlighted by a solid first pre-season game last week.
(See my one-on-one interview with Deonte Thompson after the 'Jump')
Baltimore Beatdown (BB): As you got to the end of the draft and you weren't drafted, what was going through your head?
Deonte Thompson (DT): "Aw man, I was just disappointed, hurt, all the things that a kid goes through. You think that your whole dream was to get your name called and it didn't happen. It made me a little anxious."
BB: So then after the draft ends, the phone rings and it's the Ravens on the phone. Where were you, what were you doing,what was your reaction?
DT: "I was actually sitting in the room with my mom, my brothers and my sisters, and then Philly called and they (Baltimore) called. There were other teams calling too, but they were the only two I talked to, and I was, man, I want to go to the Ravens. My brother is a big Ravens fan and I always watched the Ravens growing up, a lot of guys form Florida here, so I was like, Ravens my choice."
BB: You come from a conference that's arguably the best in college football, playing against so many guys who end up starting as rookies in the NFL. Here you are undrafted, but now you are impressing the coaches and the quarterbacks seem to be looking for you. What are you doing to get to that level.
DT: "I'm just coming here every day busting my butt, working hard. Asking a lot of questions, where do they want me at, different routes ans schemes and just learning the offense as a whole, really. Just coming out, watching the guys in front of me, like Anquan (Boldin), learning from those guys and its been a great process."
BB: Your college QB (John Brantley) came here just like you as an undrafted free agent. I know he's not here but what's the difference catching a ball from him versus Joe Flacco. Is it a different spin, is it a harder ball?
DT: "It's not too much of a difference. A ball is a ball. Not too much difference."
BB: You know, obviously with a veteran guy and Torrey Smith as a second year guy, you can't necessarily can't count on making the team purely as a wide receiver. So talk about your play on Special Teams, obviously with the speed that you have, which makes you a dangerous person.
DT: "Yeah, like I tell coach, I'm willing to do anything to help the team win. I'm on all Special Teams now, every phase, so busting my butt on every part. Every time I get an opportunity to show myself on film I do my best."