All Wyoming Area graduate and UConn defensive lineman Julian Campenni wants is a shot at making an NFL roster. But he’s realistic how that opportunity could come.
He knows it won’t be during the first two days of the NFL Draft on Thursday and Friday when the first three rounds are completed. Maybe it could happen on Saturday when rounds four through seven are held. Even then it could come late in the draft. Or, perhaps, not through the draft at all.
“From my agent, I’ve been told I’m potentially a seventh-round pick,” Campenni said, “but probably a priority free agent, though.”
Someway the 6-foot, 306-pounder expects to be heading to an NFL destination shortly after the draft concludes. If he’s not selected, it’s likely several teams will be calling him.
Common thinking among draft analysts is a player is better off not getting drafted late in the seventh round because as an undrafted free agent he can chose a team where could have a better chance of making the final roster.
“Obviously, your goal is to get drafted and if I get drafted that would be awesome,” Campenni said. “If I get drafted, that’s where I’m going to go and I’ll be ecstatic about it. If it doesn’t work out, then a priority free agent is a great way to go and potentially get into the best schemes.
“But the teams that would potentially take me in the seventh rounds I feel would be great fits for me.”
Campenni said he’s heard from several NFL teams, including Carolina, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, the New York Jets and Philadelphia.
Campenni wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in February. He and other UConn players held a pro day on March 8. According to nfl.com, there were 20 NFL teams present.
“It went really well,” Campenni said. “My times were good, especially when I compared them to the guys who went to the combine —the top 5-10 defensive linemen. They were right there. It was a great experience and thought I did a great job there.”
Campenni benched 225 pounds 31 times at UConn’s pro day, a mark that would have tied for fourth best at the combine. Georgia’s Chris Mayes did 33 reps to lead all defensive linemen. Campenni also ran a 5.3 40-yard dash, comparable to several defensive tackles of similar size invited to the combine.
Campenni earned Class 2A second-team all-state honors as a senior. He was named the Wyoming Valley Conference Small School MVP by the coaches as well. After redshirting at UConn, he started two games and played in 10 as a freshman. He started 11 of 12 games as a redshirt sophomore and every game the past two seasons. He has played defensive tackle and nose guard.
“Time really does fly by,” Campenni said. “I went through five years of college and it went like a blink of an eye. It’s crazy.”
Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar