MARYVILLE, Mo. — The final day of the NFL Draft can sometimes seem like it drags on forever as the teams make their selections in rounds four through seven. Shawn Bane Jr., didn’t even want to watch it until his mother convinced him to come sit with her and watch the final couple rounds.
The seventh round ended with the Arizona Cardinals making UCLA tight end Caleb Wilson the 254th selection and what has become known as "Mr. Irrelevant," but the truth is the last few picks of the draft and the hours that follow are anything but irrelevant for the NFL franchises.
“Everybody wants to hear their name called in the draft, even if it is ‘Mr. Irrelevant,’” Bane said. “But I understand that it is not going to be given.”
As the draft ends, it is a mad rush to the phones for NFL front offices as they try to sign the best undrafted players to their teams and the former Northwest Missouri State receiver was clearly at the top of several teams’ wish lists.
“I was still doing some homework actually and watching it with her (his mom),” Bane said.
Bane was a popular target because in addition to his stellar career at Northwest, he dominated his pro day in front of scouts with a 4.31 40-yard dash, a 38.5-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-9 broad jump.
“Once we got to the pro day, it was a good day,” Bane said. “I showed a lot of scouts what I could do. … Once they were able to see those numbers, it was like, ‘Yeah, it is coming.’”
Less than five minutes after Wilson’s name was read as the final pick in the draft, Bane’s phone rang. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were trying to lock up Bane’s services.
Bane then talked to his agent to tell him about the Buccaneers’ interest, but his agent had even better news. The Atlanta Falcons had out-bid Tampa Bay and were offering a three-year deal.
“I called my agent and he was like, ‘Hey, I got Atlanta. They want you, they are all over you,’” Bane said.
Now a member of the Falcons, not much changes for the fourth-leading receiver in Bearcat history until in two weeks when everything changes.
Leading up to the draft, Bane was simply focused on training and becoming the best version of himself that he could be and showcase that for NFL teams. He will continue to train like that until he is scheduled to report to the Falcons for rookie minicamp.
“I’ll still be training, I trained earlier today,” Bane said. “I’m just going to try to be prepared. They called my name and I have got to answer that call. … I’m definitely trying to stand out. … I’ll be doing two-a-days until then.”
Once with the Falcons, Bane will need to set himself apart from the other rookie receivers the team has brought in. The team is shifting sixth-round pick Marcus Green of Louisiana-Monroe to running back, but has brought in Virginia’s Olamide Zaccheaus, Georgia’s Jayson Stanley and Cincinnati’s Kahlil Lewis to rookie camp as undrafted receivers along with Bane.
“They want to see the speed so I definitely just want to go in there and show them the speed,” Bane said. “I’m not going to be afraid to be myself and let things hang out. I’m coming in with a chip on my shoulder. I feel like I am going to have to prove myself day in and day out, because nothing is guaranteed.”
Bane is looking forward to camp, but admits that when players like Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, Desmond Trufant and the rest of the Falcons show up and if Bane has the chance to share a locker room and receivers’ room with a superstar like Jones, the feeling may be a little surreal.
“That is going to be so bizarre,” Bane said while laughing. “Like what do you mean, I’m playing with these people? I’m trying not to show it, but it is like ‘Woah, geez.’ I think it is going to be cool and I’ll try to keep everything in and handle myself as a professional that I am, but woof.”
First things first though — Bane must impress at rookie camp which he reports to May 9, but he is ready for it.
“I’m ready to earn a spot, honestly,” Bane said. “After I got the call, that is what I told coach. ‘Hey coach, I appreciate the opportunity, I’m coming to get a spot.’ I’m just trying to stay healthy, keep God first and the rest will take care of itself.”
Also in camp:
Former Bearcat running back Josh Caldwell has accepted an invitation to rookie camp with the Washington Redskins.