NFL Draft weekend is special every year as college athletes and their families lives are changed forever once they get that call from a team that believes in them.
Unfortunately there are just as many players, where that call never comes.
Over the past 20 years, one team that has given many opportunities to undrafted free agents is none other than Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
On Thursday, one of those Belichick picks reflected back on his path to the NFL, longtime special teamer and part-time running back Brandon Bolden.
Taking to his Instagram, Bolden shared an inspirational message of hope for those who won’t get drafted by a team this weekend.
“When a diamond falls into a deep well many people will stop to look at it…but few will be ready to go down after it” – African Proverb….Good luck to everybody during the draft tonight, that call might not happen but your story doesn’t have to end there. #UNDRAFTED #firstone #patsnation #LFG #hulksmash”
Bolden was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss in 2012 and has gone on to be a key member of the Patriots special teams unit for seven of the last eight years, serving as a gunner.
Every so often, he’ll make the highlight reels too.
Although not primarily used on offense, Bolden has added 15 career touchdowns to his resume and 59 receptions over his eight year career.
Last December, Belichick raved about Bolden’s return to the Patriots following a brief stint with the Dolphins in 2018.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to have Brandon back, and I think our team and our coaching staff feels the same way,” Belichick said.
“He’s been such a great re-addition to the team. I think we all knew and appreciated and loved having Brandon on the team, and last year, I think we missed each other. But sometimes that’s the business side of this game. But he’s back, and I think he’s enjoyed it.”
Belichick then detailed the importance of Bolden to the team over the years.
“He’s so valuable in so many ways,” Belichick said. “On the field, off the field, his preparation, his experience, his energy level, his ability to do so many different things well, both offensively and in the kicking game. He’s embraced new roles like, for example, being the kick returner this year. That’s something that he hasn’t really done a lot of in the past, and he had probably his best return of the season last week against Buffalo, and we really needed it.”
“He’s really come through for us in so many ways, with offensive production,” Belichick added. “But his leadership, his competitiveness, his toughness and his dependability are outstanding. It’s really great to have him back here. We missed him last year, but we’re so glad he’s back.”
So whether you’re drafted first overall, or not at all, its what you make of it.
In the case of Brandon Bolden’s NFL career, it’s been a hell of a story.
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