Lane Taylor had a hunch his best shot at making an NFL roster was signing with the Green Bay Packers.
If the All-Big 12 offensive lineman from Oklahoma State needed additional motivation, it arrived two weeks ago. He was with his wife for 22 hours of labor when their daughter was born late in training camp.
Over the weekend, Taylor learned he made the Packers' 53-man roster.
“This is a dream come true,” Taylor said in a phone interview with The Oklahoman. “Since I was a little kid I dreamed about being in the NFL. I am so blessed and so grateful for this opportunity.”
While ESPN and other media outlets constantly monitor whether quarterback Tim Tebow can land a shot with another NFL team, players like Taylor are the feel-good stories when they survive cutdown day.
“When I told the Packers I chose to come to their organization that's when it hit me I might have a chance to make an NFL roster,” Taylor said. “I knew I'd end up somewhere, but I didn't know where. It's turned out great.”
The one advantage to being an undrafted rookie free agent is a player can select a team he feels might have an opening due to free agency and defections.
Taylor narrowed his list to the Packers, Bengals, Jaguars, Raiders and Texans.
“I really enjoyed it up here during my pre-draft visit,” Taylor said. “It was a roster where I thought I could contribute. I felt it was my best opportunity. They weren't super deep, but I knew there would be competition no matter which team I chose.”
Making 47 career starts with the Cowboys, Taylor built a solid resume. But NFL scouts felt his footwork might hamper him. He went undrafted, but several teams called after the draft.
In a similar situation as Taylor a year ago, Don Barclay is Green Bay's top backup at all five O-line spots. Greg Van Roten, who was with the Packers last season, is the emergency tackle. Taylor will provide depth on the interior.
Taylor's pass protection needs work, but he proved throughout training camp and preseason games that he was the best run-blocker of all the free agent candidates.
“He's played very well,” Van Roten told the Green Bay Press Gazette. “He's young and big and strong. He does a lot of things well. He doesn't let anything get to him, which is good. A lot of guys fold under pressure from the mental part. He's handled himself very well.”