A little over a month ago, there weren’t many Division I prospects with less of a chance of being drafted than Chiefs seventh round pick Shane Bannon. Peter King runs down the unlikely story of Bannon’s path to the draft in his weekly MMQB.
No one knew who he was until a small-college pro day in a workout facility in tiny Tolland, Conn., was wedged into the NFL schedule, early in the morning on March 23, before the regularly scheduled UConn event that day.
Bannon is 6-2 and 265 pounds. He never carried the ball last year in a game, and he had 13 catches. He got picked by the Chiefs in the seventh round Saturday night because he’s a great blocker, and because he can be a tempo-setter on special teams.
“He would kill people,” said Ross Tucker, my buddy and a broadcaster who did an Ivy League game of the week last year for the YES Network. “But I had no idea he was a prospect. Shane Bannon got drafted? I never figured that.”
Credit [agent Joe] Linta, who also got the lightly regarded Tucker a pro tryout with the Redskins after his Princeton career, a tryout that led to a seven-year NFL career. Pro GMs like Scott Pioli of the Chiefs respect Linta more than many agents because he’s a former coach, and because he’s brought them solid prospects before. “He really helped me,” said Bannon, who will graduate from Yale later this month. “I’m not your classic football prospect. I didn’t even play football until my sophomore year in high school, and then, I never dreamed of this as a possibility.” Then Linta saw some tape of Bannon, thought he should be in an NFL camp as a special-teamer and blocking back, and began spreading the word. “I was going to work like a crazy man to spread the word on him once I saw the film,” Linta said.
He got Bannon in front of some NFL teams — New England, Seattle, Kansas City, Chicago. Five others came to his pro day. And when he ran a 4.7 40-yard dash, suddenly he wasn’t just a lumbering lug. He was a prospect. “I felt if I worked hard and Joe did what he does well, I might have a chance. At the end of the year, no one knew who I was. I went from being completely unknown to, in the last month, being on a few teams’ radar,” said Bannon.
The more I read about Bannon, it gets even more unbelievable. Teams prepare year round for the draft and then for a kid to pop on the radar of a few GMs at the last minute is great. Plenty of big-time performers in the Ivy league and the only one drafted touched the ball a whopping 13 times last season… amazing.
As we talked about on Saturday, the selection of Bannon likely had a lot to do with there not being undrafted free agency. It certainly sounds like he wasn’t going to get picked, but Pioli wanted to make sure he was able to get a hold of a player that has plenty of options beyond football.