Former Lassiter teammates Philip Lutzenkirchen and Camden Wentz joined Walton’s Chase Thomas and Sprayberry’s Brynden Trawick in signing contracts Saturday night as undrafted free agents. Lutzenkirchen was signed by the St. Louis Rams, Wentz by the Minnesota Vikings, Thomas by the New Orleans Saints and Trawick by the Baltimore Ravens.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was Thomas not being drafted after a standout career as an outside linebacker at Stanford.
After partaking in the Senior Bowl, the NFL draft combine and Stanford’s pro day, Thomas was projected by his agent to be selected between the third and fifth rounds. After not hearing his name called Saturday, it made for a long afternoon — until the Saints gave him an offer.
“I was definitely shocked about the draft, but things happen for a reason,” Thomas said. “I didn’t run the fastest at the combine, but I saw others on the board that ran slow, so I don’t understand how the whole thing works.”
Thomas ended his senior season with 71 tackles, 14½ tackles for loss and 8½ sacks — good enough for all-conference honors in the Pac-12. But one blogger stated that teams passed on Thomas because he was undersized at 6-foot-3 and 244 pounds, and that his 4.8-second time in the 40-yard dash was slow for his size.
Thomas will still get his chance.
He said that he and his agent had been in contact with the Saints, Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals during the draft before making his final decision to go with New Orleans.
Thomas said the Saints didn’t draft a linebacker so they need depth at that position for their new 3-4 scheme. Having played the 3-4 the last three years for the Cardinal, he’s not expecting a hard transition.
“I played it the last three years. I like blitzing a passer and stuffing tight ends and making plays,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t drafted, but everything happens for a reason. I’m happy now.”
Lutzenkirchen finished his Auburn career with 59 catches for 628 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was tempted to enter the draft after his junior season, but opted to play his senior season.
But midway through the 2012 season, Lutzenkirchen tore his labrum and had three bone spurs in his hip, which required season-ending surgery. His injuries most likely hurt his chances of being selected, but he struck a deal with the Rams minutes after the draft ended.
Lutzenkirchen couldn’t be reached for comment, but he posted about his future on Twitter.
“Hard 2believe (there) were 15+ te’s and 255+ players better than me but hey God has a plan for me and I’m proud to get a shot with @STLouisRams.”
Wentz, who played center for North Carolina State, was the first undrafted free agent the Vikings inked. Not only will he get a shot at making the team, but he will get the chance to work under All-Pro center John Sullivan.
“I’m ecstatic to get the opportunity to keep playing the sport that I love,” Wentz said. “I watched the draft hoping for a call, but you have to get up there, prove you belong and make the team.”
Trawick, a defensive back coming off a senior season at Troy in which he had 83 tackles, four pass breakups and three interceptions, will attempt to make the Ravens’ roster and help Baltimore defend its Super Bowl title.
“It’s a great opportunity to be picked up by the Super Bowl champs,” Trawick said. “It’s a great organization and I’m proud to be in the position that I’m in. If I give it my best overall effort, I have a good shot. I just have to work hard and be the best that I can be.”