STILLWATER — Lane Taylor spent hours Saturday watching intently as every pick from Day 3 of the NFL Draft popped on his television screen.
“All the potential teams that were looking at me,” the former Oklahoma State offensive lineman recalled, “every time they were on the clock, I got a little anxious, waiting on them to call.”
The call that he had been drafted never came.
But right after the three-day spectacle ended, the annual behind-the-scenes scramble began as teams tried to sign undrafted rookie free agents. Suddenly, Taylor had plenty of calls and quickly decided to sign with the Green Bay Packers.
“I'm just very fortunate and blessed that the Packers gave me a shot,” Taylor said.
The Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens also contacted Taylor's agent about signing the 2012 All-Big 12 performer and four-year mainstay on the Cowboy offensive line. But the Packers had a bigger need for an interior offensive lineman. Taylor had also visited Green Bay about a month ago and came away impressed with the Packers' facilities and the small-town vibe that felt a lot like Stillwater.
“It was just really the best fit,” Taylor said.
Latching onto a team is, in a way, the easy part. Now comes the hard part — making that team out of training camp.
There are plenty of examples of undrafted free agents who went on to have successful careers. Tony Romo. Priest Holmes. Rod Smith. Last season, former OSU receiver Josh Cooper eventually earned a spot on the Cleveland Browns' active roster after going undrafted.
But there are far more who become practice squad players or get cut, which can lead to a life as an NFL nomad.
Taylor said he feels prepared for the possibilities ahead after watching the journey Levy Adcock, a former Cowboy and Taylor's close friend, has had since leaving OSU. Adcock was cut by Dallas in training camp last summer and then played for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL before signing a practice squad contract with the New York Giants in December.
“Just work hard,” Taylor said of the advice he received from Adcock. “Work really hard. Work harder than everybody else and just earn your spot on that team. Do well and make them have to keep you.”
Taylor leaves May 9 for rookie mini camp. And even though life as an undrafted rookie free agent naturally comes with uncertainty, finding that initial landing spot was especially important for Taylor. He and his wife, Kasey, are expecting their first child, Bryleigh, in late August.
That provides even more motivation for Taylor to make the Packers.
“I get a chance to provide for the family,” Taylor said, “and to make sure little Bryleigh has a really good life and a good future ahead of her. … I'm just really ready to get up there, get in the playbook get to working hard and just try to earn my spot on the team.”
Several undrafted Cowboys will get an NFL shot
Lane Taylor was not selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, but the former Oklahoma State offensive lineman will get a chance to make the Green Bay Packers' roster as an undrafted rookie free agent.
Here are the other former Cowboys who will be in camp with an NFL team:
P/K Quinn Sharp, Cincinnati Bengals
LB Alex Elkins, Detroit Lions
DL Nigel Nicholas, Tennessee Titans
C Evan Epstein, Miami Dolphins
OL Jonathan Rush, Oakland Raiders