On April 30, 2011, former University of Richmond cornerback Justin Rogers was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. However, on March 11, 2011, the National Football League entered a lockout, disallowing communication between the organizations and the players.
While numerous other former Spiders, such as Lawrence Sidbury (2009, 4th round, Falcons) and Tim Hightower (2008, 5th round, Cardinals), have heard their names called on NFL draft day, Rogers’s situation is unique.
Due to the lockout, Rogers has been forced to delay his transformation from a collegiate to professional player.
“I haven’t spoke to [the Bills’ organization] since the draft cause I can’t with the lockout still being on,” Rogers said by phone. “I haven’t talked to any of the [Bills’ players] either, just been training and waiting for the time to go up there [to Buffalo].”
When Rogers is finally able to join his new team, he should see some familiar faces in two former Colonial Athletic Association rivals. Recent James Madison University graduates Mike Caussin (tight end) and Arthur Moats (linebacker) each joined the Bills roster last season.
Rogers will also be met by immediate competition as he was the third of three defensive backs chosen by Buffalo in the 2011 NFL Draft. University of Texas Aaron Williams was selected in the second round, while University of North Carolina’s Da’Norris Searcy went in round four.
The competition didn’t affect Rogers’s emotion on the day he was drafted, finally reaching a dream he had worked for much of his life.
“It was like a relief,” he said. “The draft went three days, and when it got towards the end of the third day, I was getting anxious, so when I got the call it was just a relief. I was wondering when my name was gonna be called or if it was gonna be called and when I actually got that call and [Buffalo] told me they was gonna draft me, it was such a relief.”
Rogers said he had prior knowledge of the Bills’ intention to pick him.
“I didn’t really think [Buffalo] had as much interest in me as any other club,” he said. “I kinda had no clue that they were interested in me until draft day when I got the call.”
Despite the surprise, Rogers wasn’t completely in the dark on his new team’s makeup.
“I pretty much knew a lot about them already from being a football fan and knowing a lot about different teams, but a lot of people been telling me how Buffalo is and the city and stuff like that,” he said.
With his inevitable trip to the city being delayed by the lockout, Rogers has kept busy working out to stay in shape mostly in his hometown of Baton Rouge, La.
“It’s just one of those things you have no control over,” Rogers said regarding the current lockout. “I guess it’s just more deep than anything I understand or am a part of, but it is what it is and I can’t control it; all I can control is me, myself, and I and that’s what I’m trying to do by working out and staying in shape.”
Also being affected by the lockout are the undrafted free agents. Undrafted free agents are the draft eligible players who don’t get selected in the seven rounds allotted for each team to expand their rosters. In a typical year, many of these players are offered contracts immediately following the draft’s end and fight through training camp to make the roster. However, the lockout means that these players remain unsigned and puts their NFL future in more doubt than normal.
Two undrafted free agents that are still holding out for possible NFL contracts are former Spiders Martin Parker (defensive line) and Eric McBride (linebacker). Rogers has kept in contact with both players as they await their opportunity to impress NFL teams.
“I’ve talked to Martin [Parker] maybe twice since the draft,” Rogers said. “I talked to him right after the draft and I talk to him via text later on after the draft. I actually was here in Richmond a couple days last week and I talked to Eric [McBride]. We worked out a couple days, training with him and stuff like that, so they both have positive attitudes pretty much waiting for this lockout to be over with.”
Contact staff writer David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org