Bryan Witzmann awaits NFL Draft call
Somerset native Bryan Witzmann is anxiously awaiting to see if he’ll be selected in this week’s 2014 National Football League Draft.
Witzmann, who completed his senior season at South Dakota State University last fall, was one of the most successful players in the history of the Jackrabbits’ program. He started more games than any player in program history, spending four seasons as the starting left tackle. Witzmann paved the way for SDSU running back Zach Zenner to rush for more than 2,000 yards each of the past two seasons.
Witzmann, listed at 6 feet, 7 inches and 311 pounds, has an outside chance of being taken in the later rounds of the NFL Draft. The draft will begin on Thursday and run through Saturday.
Witzmann will watch the draft at SDSU in Brookings, S.D. His parents, Tim and Caren Witzmann, will be there with him. It is also graduation weekend at SDSU. Witzmann said he will forgo attending the graduation ceremony so he can keep tabs on the draft. Witzmann will graduate with a degree in civil engineering.
One of the facts working against Witzmann is that this year’s draft is considered one of the deepest drafts for offensive tackles in a decade or more. As many as eight offensive tackles are projected to be taken in the first round of the draft. That talent at tackle lessens Witzmann’s possibilities of being selected in the draft.
That doesn’t mean that Witzmann isn’t going to end up in an NFL training camp. After the last name is announced each year in the draft, there’s a feeding frenzy among the NFL teams to sign undrafted players. Witzmann said that if he isn’t drafted, he expects to sign within a few days of the draft’s completion. Team representatives will call during the draft to begin negotiations if it appears a player won’t be drafted.
“It’ll be tough for me to get drafted,” Witzmann acknowledged in a conversation last week. “I know I’ll have a few teams interested in signing me.”
Witzmann said the Houston Texans are one team that has shown steady interest in him since the college season ended. He was contacted last week by the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons. Those teams were making sure they had his contact information so he could be reached during the draft weekend. Witzmann said his agent has also been in contact with several NFL teams.
Witzmann said there are advantages to not being drafted. Instead of belong locked into working for one team, undrafted free agents can look for teams where they’ll be the best fit. Witzmann said he’s trying to study NFL rosters to see which teams have the greatest need for tackles and he’ll follow the draft to see which teams address those needs.
SDSU held its Pro Day in March, with Witzmann being considered the top SDSU prospect who worked out in front of nine NFL scouts. Witzmann ran the 40-yard dash in 5.09 seconds at the Pro Day. That time is considered quite respectable for a lineman of his size. He was able to produce a 28-inch vertical jump.
Witzmann was also recently honored for his academic work. He was one of nine SDSU players honored when the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced on April 29 the members of the 2014 NFF Hampshire Honor Society, which is comprised of college football players from all divisions of play who each maintained a cumulative 3.2 GPA or better throughout their college career. A total of 838 players nationally from 267 schools qualified for membership in the society’s eighth year.