Undrafted All-American catching on

So you think the fall of California quarterback Aaron Rodgers on draft day was hard to watch? Well, consider the plight of Purdue wide receiver Taylor Stubblefield, who had every reason to think he'd be selected at some point in April's NFL draft -- even if it meant waiting until the second day.

After all, all Stubblefield did at Purdue was earn first-team All-American honors and set an NCAA record last season with 316 career receptions.

But when seven rounds came and went, the NCAA's all-time leading receiver still had not been selected. It turns out NFL teams felt Stubblefield's other numbers (5-feet-11 and 174 pounds and a 4.59-second time in the 40 yard dash) were more important.

"It was disappointing at the time and you're sitting there with your family and you're just wondering why," Stubblefield said.

But even before the draft was complete, nearly a dozen NFL teams had inquired about signing Stubblefield as a free agent if he didn't get drafted, including the Carolina Panthers. So, less than 10 minutes after the draft was over, Stubblefield had reached a deal with Carolina.

He doesn't seem to hold a grudge, but did say it will serve as motivation.

"I was surprised, but what can I do about it now?" he said. "I can't sit back and think about four weeks ago when my feelings were hurt. I have to come in here every day and do the things I've been doing and get better every day."

And he's been doing just that.

Panthers coach John Fox said he has been impressed by Stubblefield's progress in the first few days of minicamp.

"He's learned well and has caught everything near him," Fox said. "That's a good start for a wide receiver, but we still have a lot left to do.

Stubblefield comes across as an extremely humble kid and more mature and self-confident than most college players entering the league.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think it's solid. Obviously, getting Steve Smith back is very, very helpful. The great experience that Keary Colbert got a year ago has helped us replace a good player like Moose (Muhsin Muhammad). We've got some young guys, like Drew Carter and Antoine Burns, and some older guys, like Karl Hankton and Ricky Proehl, guys that we know what they're capable of. We've got good competition there. That's not a position where you keep 15 guys. We've got a lot of work to do, but I like what I've seen so far." -- Panthers head coach John Fox on his receiver corps.

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