Undrafted Urlacher remains hopeful

Despite not being drafted, Casey Urlacher is optimistic that he will get an opportunity to play in the NFL.

The following is a story written by Casey Urlacher following the conclusion of the NFL Draft, which was held April 26-27.

It's been a long day. In fact, the whole weekend has been pretty long. I sat around and watched just about the entire the draft. Quite a few of the players I know were taken today. I think the total was 25 or so. Sure, I wish that my name had been one of those that was called during the broadcast, but I'm happy for my friends.

I was thinking about this a little earlier today. The only thing that I need to be careful about when I call each of them to offer congratulations is to remember just where they went in the draft order. Players tend to be sensitive about that. Some were happy to have been taken higher than expected while others were not quite as glad to have slipped a round or two.

One player I was really happy for was Willis McGahee. He's done a fantastic job rehabilitating from a potentially devastating injury. That type of injury in his final college game has to be every player's nightmare. What impresses me about McGahee is the fact that he didn't sit around and feel sorry for himself. He got right out there and did what needed to be done to recover as quickly as possible. Buffalo made a good move to go after him. I think that he will turn out to be an impact player in the NFL.

This was a very defense heavy draft. It seemed that most of the first round picks were defensive players. That's somewhat unusual. But clearly, the scouts and the coaches felt that's where the greatest depth of talent was, so that's what they went for.

It's interesting that the Bears chose all of those Florida players. They'll feel like they never left home. That should ease the transition into the League for these rookies, just like it did for Anthony Thomas and David Terrell.

For one thing, they are all friends. They already have their communication going. It's not like calling signals to somebody for the first time. They'll be together in the locker room, just like they were at Florida. It won't be like walking into a room full of strangers. They know each other's skills, and they have trained together. That has to help.

Is it a problem for a player accustomed to a warm climate to be playing in the north, like the Florida players in Chicago, or McGahee in Buffalo? No, it shouldn't be. Players' work so hard to get on a team that they don't care whether or not it's cold in their new team's city. It's just something that you learn to cope with. The snow might surprise them or they might wish they could be hanging out at the beach, but the draft tells you where you' re going to play, not the other way around.

I may be just a little disappointed not to have been picked today, but realistically, my agent and I had agreed well before this draft that I would probably be going into this football season as a free agent. That's what I had prepared for mentally.

Any team that might be interested in me will give my agent a call, and then he will contact me. We had hoped that we would be able to work something out and finalize things by late Monday night, but that wasn't the case. I don't need too much advance notice to be ready to go. If a team wants me, I'm on the way.

My goal is to be in some NFL mini camp by next weekend.

In the meantime, I'm going back to training in the morning. I've worked hard to get in good shape, and it isn't the kind of thing that I want to let slide. I did take a rest when I first came back to Chicago. That's done and now it's time to get back to work.

I'm still optimistic. My family and my friends are behind me. My agent is doing a great job. I fully expect that things will turn out well and that I'll be in an NFL jersey this year.


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