BOSTON (CBS) – Newly re-signed Patriots center Ryan Wendell joined Bob Socci to talk about the NFL Draft and the way things work behind the scenes in New England. He started off by saying how fortunate he felt to be able to return to the team for two more seasons after inking his new deal.
Wendell’s path to the NFL was different than most, as his name wasn’t called on draft day and he signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent. From there he made the practice squad out of training camp, worked his way on to the roster, and ultimately into a starting position on the offensive line.
Going into the 2008 draft there was a slight chance that Wendell would be drafted in the late rounds, but he pretty much knew he was going into undrafted free agency. It was a stressful weekend for him nonetheless as he tried to keep up on all of the offensive line additions around the league.
After his name wasn’t called in the draft a number of teams called him on the phone, but one stuck out to him.
“When Bill Belichick calls you and spends twenty minutes on the phone trying to convince you to come to New England, it’s hard to turn down. After talking to Bill I knew New England was where I wanted to be.”
Wendell also said that he felt that with the Patriots there would be no prejudice against him as a player that went undrafted.
He told Bob that, “When I talked to Bill, the impression that I got was that he would do whatever it took to make his team better, to win. It didn’t matter who was on the field as long as they were helping to do that. For me, I felt like that was a great chance to walk in and just try to prove myself.”
Wendell went on to praise recently retired coach Dante Scarnecchia for his work with the offensive line, saying that his play was light years better because of the way that “Scar” coached him up.
He also went out of his way to point out that there’s a lot of veteran leadership in New England, and that it’s easy to do the right thing when you see all of the older guys doing it.
The leadership Tom Brady shows was also a focal point of the conversation, especially among younger unheralded players. Wendell spoke highly of the quarterback, saying, “Tom will take anyone that can help this team win. It doesn’t matter who they are, where they come from, or what their status is, if they can help this team win then they’re a valuable asset.”
Brady doesn’t care whether you’re a first-rounder or a practice squad member, in his mind work ethic trumps talent.
“If you come in, and you work hard, and you do the things you’re supposed to do to help this team win, you’ll get Tom’s respect.”
You can listen to the entire interview below: