Remember that feeling you had the last time you stuck your hand into a pants pocket and found a misplaced $20 bill.
That's how Miami Dolphins General Manager Dennis Hickey must have felt all of training camp watching some of his rookies perform.
But not the rookies he drafted and paid hefty signing bonuses. Ja'Wuan James, Jarvis Landry and Billy Turner are promising NFL youngsters who will likely have respectable careers if they can stay healthy. All three of the Dolphins' top draft picks flashed plenty in the NFL's fake season.
Hickey should feel good about the five undrafted rookies — linebacker Chris McCain, defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, tight end Gator Hoskins, and tailbacks Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa — who didn't just make the team, but flashed some serious potential during the preseason.
"The credit goes to those players because they've proved themselves over a period of time. The credit goes to them. They earned it." Hickey said when asked about his impressive crop of undrafted rookies. "When it comes to scouting, I trust my eyes and our coaching staff is that way. ... We're going to judge you based on merit and what we see."
The Dolphins added another undrafted rookie, defensive back Sammy Seamster, on Sunday. None of the undrafted rookies will start against the Patriots next Sunday, and they probably won't make an impact play in the season opener. But the odds of them becoming significant contributors as rookies, if not starters this year or in Year 2 are pretty solid based on their early showing.
As former Dolphins czar Bill Parcells once infamously warned about rookies, "If they don't bite as pups they don't bite."
The five undrafted rookies that were with Miami during the preseason have bitten. McCain, who got kicked out of the University of California, was a force in multiple exhibition games, and should challenge Philip Wheeler for the starting strong side linebacker spot.
It took Johnson, a top 50 draft prospect from LSU who didn't get drafted because of a failed drug test at the combine, all of a week of OTA practices to work his way up to the defensive line's depth chart.
Hoskins and Darkwa scored 14-points to win Miami's preseason game against Dallas, and Williams flashed early in camp, leapfrogging all the veterans but Lamar Miller.
None of those five players had a draft pick attached to their name. They don't have a bank account full of money from a signing bonus, ensuring a commitment from the team.
Most of them had medical, or character baggage that drastically hurt their draft stock. But that hasn't stopped them from pushing toward their childhood dream of becoming an NFL player, and proving they could indeed play the game they love.
It doesn't hurt that they can look at the best players on the Dolphins' roster for inspiration.
Brent Grimes and Cameron Wake are without a doubt the two best talents on the Dolphins' roster this season, and last year. Coincidentally, or not, neither of those Pro Bowl talents were drafted by an NFL team.
Grimes made it to training camp by impressing the Atlanta Falcons during a rookie tryout, and a solid showing got him sent to NFL Europe in 2007 to perfect his craft. A few seasons later, which includes two practice squad stints, he's one of the NFL's best cornerbacks.
Wake, who at that time was a Penn State linebacker who went by his government name Derek Wake, didn't even make it to training camp with the New York Giants in 2005.
He didn't impress during OTAs as an undrafted rookie and was cut. Wake became a trainer at Bally's Total Fitness, where he grinded until a CFL tryout got him back into football.
Wake flipped that tryout into becoming the CFL's two-time Defensive Player of the Year, and returned to the NFL as Cameron Wake, one of the NFL's top pass rushers.
"Derek had to die for Cameron to live," Wake says recalling his NFL story, which he annually shares with the Dolphins' young players and long shots.
Plenty of NFL dreams died this weekend as 700 plus players got cut.
And that's just the start of the non-stop roster churning that will take place for the next 17 weeks in the NFL.
But for one day, one brief moment the Dolphins' undrafted rookies should take an opportunity to pat themselves on the back because they beat the long odds.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun