As the final day of the 2014 NFL Draft continued to unfold back on May 10, Mitch Ewald was dreaming of the possibilities ahead.
Whether he was fortunate enough to get drafted, the former Waubonsie Valley and Indiana standout kicker was confident he’d get his chance somewhere.
But Ewald’s name was not called in the draft and he went to the Chicago Bears’ rookie minicamp during the week after the draft. Then Ewald got a friendly call from Denver Broncos special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, telling him to keep grinding and be ready when the right opportunity came calling.
That opportunity came to fruition last Wednesday as Ewald joined Rodgers by signing a free-agent contract with the defending AFC champion Broncos.
“We kind of grew to have a little bit of a relationship while he was recruiting me (for Kansas State). He was a younger guy and a really fun guy to be around,” Ewald said on Saturday night.
“So he called me during the draft and mentioned that they may be looking to bring a guy in. … It kind of worked out that when I was done with the Bears, he called me sometime in June and said, ‘Hey, we need to bring a couple guys in and you’re the top guy on our list. So be expecting a call in the next couple weeks and start preparing yourself for second-to-third week of July. We’re going to bring you out.’”
Rodgers was the first person to offer Ewald a full scholarship out of high school.
Ewald was having conversations with several teams on the draft’s final day, including the Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans and the Broncos.
For a while, as the draft was coming to a close, he believed he might be headed to the Texans with the final pick of the draft, becoming Mr. Irrelevant in the process.
Expressing his disappointment over the way the talks with the Texans went, one door closed for him. But another one has opened.
That’s what Ewald is focusing on — especially now finding himself in training camp with Matt Prater, who owns the longest kick in NFL history after kicking a 64-yard field goal against the Titans last year.
“I truly think I belong here. I’m not that far off of where these guys are and competing’s a lot of fun,” he said.
“Prater’s a really good guy, a great guy to be around, to learn from. He’s had a ton of success. He’s very welcoming to me. But the goal really is to just kind of compete, of course, but try to get into preseason games.”