By Tim Graham
Almost half the NFL's 32 teams wanted Da'Rick Rogers on their rosters.
None of them had enough confidence to draft him.
"That puts a bigger chip on my shoulder," Rogers told me over the phone today. "The Buffalo Bills get that much. They get a hard-working player that's got the biggest chip in the world on his shoulder.
"That just drives me that much more. I do take personally. I do take it to heart."
There were 254 picks in this year's draft. None was used on Rogers, a game-changing receiver who left Tennessee last year because of three failed drug tests among a variety of off-field problems.
Many scouts put early round grades on Rogers. Yet while players from schools such as Elon, Harding, Chadron State, California of Pennsylvania and Colorado State-Pueblo got drafted, Rogers' name was not called.
"It started to hit me that it may not happen," Rogers said of following the draft in the later rounds. "I started to prepare for that. But there was some shellshock.
"It let me know that this is real. My immaturity was costing me. That just gave me more hunger."
In the frenzied moments after the draft concluded, Rogers' agent said he fielded calls from 13 teams. Another team, unsure if the Bills had signed Rogers, even called today to take a run at signing him.
Rogers and agent Joby Branion decided quickly that Buffalo presented the best opportunity and agreed to terms Saturday night. The Bills are remaking their offense. Young players will have a better chance to get on the field than they might with other clubs.
"It's all in front of him," Branion said. "The Buffalo situation is a great opportunity for him with their roster and what they want to do with their receivers.
"He has an opportunity to turn a new page and start over. Everything will be forgotten if he takes this seriously and moves forward and becomes a mature professional."
Rogers said he enjoyed his pre-draft visit with the Bills' coaching staff, especially receivers coach Ike Hilliard, earlier this month and liked the idea of joining a team at the same time as its expected franchise quarterback, first-round pick EJ Manuel.
Rogers also has been working out with a couple of Branion's other clients Buffalo drafted: USC receiver Robert Woods and Texas receiver Marquise Goodwin.
"I'm excited about some of the young talent they have," Rogers said. "I wanted to be a part of that. It makes you that much more excited, makes you want to go to the workouts and practices to work. It's more motivation."
Branion didn't dispute or try to defend the reasons why Rogers slid out of the draft completely. But Branion did express optimism that Rogers was a good kid who has learned from costly mistakes.
"Some decisions that he makes aren't always the most mature, but they're never malicious," Branion said. "He's not one of those guys where you ever have to worry about them getting in bad trouble.
"He just -- like a lot of young players -- sometimes lives for the moment rather than weighing how your decisions impact your future."
Rogers looked like a future star as a sophomore at Tennessee. He caught a conference-high 67 passes for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns.
But then he was suspended indefinitely last summer and left the program. He transferred to Tennessee Tech and had 61 receptions for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns.
I asked Rogers what Bills fans should expect from him.
"I'm ready to come work. I'm ready to come grind," Rogers said. "Tell the Bills fans they got the steal of the draft. I won't let them down."
tagged2013 draft | Da'Rick Rogers