That’s the kind of foresight that comes from NFL scouts and assistant coaches calling you to say, “We won’t draft you.”
Cantele says he has been receiving a lot of those calls lately. But they aren’t nearly as bad as they sound. Before hanging up, each caller expresses their interest in signing Cantele to a free-agent contract after the draft. Most rookies have to go that route before earning a roster spot. NFL teams rarely use draft picks on kickers.
For that reason, Cantele is prepared for anything this weekend. If he gets drafted, great. If he doesn’t get selected, that’s fine, too. No matter what, he knows he will have the opportunity to compete for a kicking job next season.
“I don’t really have expectations for draft day,” Cantele said. “It’s really an unknown to be honest with you. If I were to guess, I would say I will wind up as a free agent. That’s where the history of most kickers end up.
“I was told by a couple coaches that they consider three or four kickers in this class, myself included, worth drafting, but they also said that doesn’t mean you will get drafted just because it is a whirlwind. So many different things can happen.
“Other coaches have called and said ‘We won’t draft you, but we want you to come in as a free agent.’ It’s complicated. I will just have to relax and see what happens.”
Cantele showed he was a capable kicker at K-State by rarely missing field goals as a junior and senior. Then he boosted his NFL Draft stock at the NFL Combine and at the Wildcats’ Pro Day. He also worked out privately for the Miami Dolphins.
He thinks he helped himself the most at K-State’s Pro Day by going 9-for-9 on field goals from 35 to 58 yards.
“I was extremely happy with how I did at Pro Day,” Cantele said. “I didn’t miss. I felt like I did myself some favors.”
Did he do enough to get drafted? Maybe. Maybe not.
Cantele will remain confident regardless.
“I know I will at least get the opportunity,” Cantele said. “Right now it is a matter of getting into the right team and taking advantage of my opportunities. That’s not to say it’s won’t be tough. There is only one kicker per team. It is the most competitive position in the NFL.
“There are so many kickers that could be in the NFL, and it’s so competitive, that one off day in front of a coach could make or break a career. I guess, in a sense, that adds pressure to all this. But I have just enjoyed everything about the process. To be considered as one of the best kicking prospects is an honor.”