MANHATTAN, Kan. — Before the NFL Draft began, Chris Harper privately made a list of teams that he wanted to play for as a rookie.
By KELLIS ROBINETT
The Kansas City Star
So when one of the teams on that list — the Seattle Seahawks — called Saturday afternoon to say they were picking him in the fourth round as the 123rd overall selection, his emotions were easy to predict.
“I am definitely excited,” Harper said. “It’s a good fit for me. I watched them play and really like what Russell Wilson does as a quarterback. We have the same mentality. I just like the way they play. They were one of the teams I wanted to go to.”
Harper, a wide receiver who led Kansas State in catches and receiving yards the last two seasons, watched the draft from his home in Wichita with family and friends.
Seattle coaches informed him of the selection, and then he saw the announcement on TV. The room quickly filled with cheers.
It was a thrilling moment for Harper, who started his college career at Oregon as a quarterback. But he didn’t celebrate for long.
Harper’s mind quickly turned to his future NFL career, which will begin in two weeks when he reports for rookie practices. He has two immediate goals: Showing Seattle coaches he is worthy of immediate playing time and proving opposing coaches they were foolish not to draft him.
“It’s a dream to get drafted and to know I’ll be playing on the same field as so many great players, but I still have a lot of things to do in the offseason,” Harper said. “I want to prove myself to my new coaches and prove all the other teams wrong that passed on me. I felt like I should have been picked a lot higher.”
Harper was viewed as a late-round draft pick as a senior at K-State. But after a big season and a string of impressive workouts in front of NFL scouts in recent months, some projected him to go as early as the second round.
At 6 feet 1 and 234 pounds, he possesses the size and skills that often help receivers succeed in the NFL.
But he didn’t get picked until late in the fourth round. He plans on using that as motivation heading into his rookie season.
“I thought I was going to get drafted yesterday,” Harper said. “That will help drive me, but I got put in a position where I wanted to be in. I’m definitely happy with how everything worked out.”
Chiefs get Braden Wilson
Wildcats State fullback Braden Wilson was so confident he would get drafted that he told himself he would be “bummed” if he didn’t get selected.
That confidence resulted in a dream scenario. The Chiefs, the team Wilson grew up rooting for, picked him in the sixth round Saturday as the 204th overall selection. When asked if he was a Chiefs fan, Wilson didn’t hide anything.
“I was, which makes this all the better,” said Wilson, who’s from Smith Center, Kan.
Few NFL teams use fullbacks, but Wilson is hopeful his skills can help the Chiefs in several ways.
“The first thing I’m going to do is show my diversity and the different positions I can play,” Wilson said, “and show that I can do other things as well. But at the same time, when I do get in the game, I have to capitalize on that situation and make the most of it by doing so. What I’m hoping to do is help our offense be as effective as possible.”
Klein among free-agent signings
Quarterback Collin Klein hoped he would get drafted, but when it didn’t happen, he remained confident about his NFL future — for good reason.
Interested teams began calling as soon as the draft ended, and he was quickly presented with several quality options.
After evaluating them with his family and his agent, he decided to sign a free-agent contract with the Houston Texans.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Klein said. “I’m so happy to be able to compete and be a Texan.”
Klein will soon travel to Houston and compete for a roster spot at the team’s rookie camp. He said the Texans are interested in him as a quarterback, the position where he led K-State to 21 victories the past two season and was a Heisman Trophy finalist last season.
Many have doubted his ability to play quarterback at the next level, but he will soon get the opportunity.
“I think the coaching staff is excellent and I really feel like it’s where I need to be,” Klein said. “I’m so thrilled and so excited to sink my teeth into the playbook and get working and get going.”
Other former K-State players signed as undrafted free agents as well: Tight end Travis Tannahill with Cleveland, linebacker Justin Tuggle with Houston, running back Angelo Pease with Green Bay and punter Ryan Doerr with Denver.