Steven Means is Exhibit A as to why the scouting combine is not the end-all, be-all when it comes to the NFL Draft.
Means didn’t get an invitation to the annual meat market held every February in Indianapolis, but it didn’t matter a bit Saturday. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers proved that when they took Means, a Grover Cleveland graduate who went on to star for the University at Buffalo, in the fifth round, 147th overall.
“I didn’t really know what to do at first. Everybody was yelling at me like answer the phone!” Means said about the moment the call came in. “It was overwhelmingly exciting.”
Means cemented himself as an NFL prospect at UB’s pro day last month, when more than 20 scouts from 18 different NFL teams were in attendance.
“I think that was the day where I really opened eyes. I showed them that I have speed and everything else you see on tape,” said Means, who started 43 games and finished fourth in UB history with 18.5 sacks.
Means said he had some level of contact with 19 teams and “seven or eight” he considered to be serious. The Bucs were not one of the teams at UB’s pro day, but they later came to Buffalo to host a private workout with Means.
“They took me out to eat and we’ve been in contact ever since,” he said. “I knew there was a lot of interest there.”
Bucs coach Greg Schiano said the team will use Means as a defensive end.
“He might be a little off your radar, but he wasn’t off of ours,” Tampa Bay General Manager Mark Dominik said to Buccaneers reporters Saturday. “We spent a lot of time with him. We’re very excited about him being a developing pass rusher.”
Means, who will graduate May 11 from UB with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, said he stayed away from watching the draft the first couple of days.
“I talked to some of my coaches and they said just clear your mind,” he said. “I’ve just been doing my regular routine, school, working out.”
The last player from the former Harvard Cup to get drafted into the NFL was Riverside’s Mike Williams, who will be a teammate of Means with the Bucs.
“I’m just blessed. To be linked to these guys, Corey Graham and Mike, these guys who have done it, it’s a humbling experience. I’m just ready to go to work now,” Means said. “I haven’t talked to Mike yet, but I know we’ll be in touch soon.”