It took three days and seven rounds, but in the end, it was all worth it.
B.J. Coleman, the native son of Chattanooga, McCallie School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, was selected with the 36th pick in the final round (243rd overall) of the 2012 NFL draft on Saturday afternoon.
“It was a grind the last couple of days, but it was a beautiful finish,” Coleman said during a teleconference with Green Bay media soon after being chosen.
As the final day of the draft plodded to a close Saturday, Coleman’s odds of being picked dwindled. Then it happened. With 11 total selections left in the 253-pick draft, Green Bay called his name.
Coleman was at his Chattanooga home with friends and family when he received the news.
“Just to be a part of something so great, and put on that green and gold, man, I'll tell you what … it's going to be like a dream come true,” Coleman said.
When Packers head coach Mike McCarthy phoned Coleman to alert him of the team’s choice, the 22-year-old beamed.
“He was clearly the most excited young man on the phone of the eight,” McCarthy said in a post-draft press conference, referring to the Packers’ eight total selections in the draft. “He told me this was the best pick we’ve ever made in Green Bay. I said we’ve had some pretty good quarterbacks here.”
Coleman, the first UTC quarterback drafted since 1959, is well aware of that. He shares an agent with former Packer great Brett Favre and had the opportunity to work out with the future Hall of Famer in January and February.
“Every second I was with him, you could learn something new,” Coleman said. “From the mental aspect of the game, picking up coverages, subtle things.”
Bus Cook, Coleman’s agent, also represents current NFL quarterbacks Cam Newton and Jay Cutler.
Having trained aside one Green Bay legend, Coleman will now work in another’s shadow. The Packers are unquestionably led by 2011 NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who spent his early years behind Farve.
Coleman will head to Green Bay as the fourth quarterback on the Packers' roster, joining Rodgers and backups Graham Harrell and Nick Hill.
“We have the MVP in Aaron Rodgers as our No. 1, and now we feel like we have three really good candidates to compete for two spots or possibly three,” McCarthy said. “The roster will shake that out."
Green Bay went 15-1 in the 2011 regular season before a shocking loss to the New York Giants in the divisional playoffs. The Packers are one year removed from winning Super Bowl XLV.
Following Green Bay’s selection of Coleman Saturday, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay noted, “He has a big arm, so there’s a lot to work with.” The Packers chose Coleman over such available quarterbacks as Boise State’s Kellen Moore, Houston’s Case Keenum and Southern Miss’ Austin Davis—a trio that combined for 116 wins, 378 touchdown passes and 44,611 passing yards.
Coleman, a 6-foot-3, 232-pound right-hander, completed 137-of-225 passes for 1,527 yards and nine touchdowns in seven games for the Mocs last season.
UTC has now had players selected in back-to-back drafts for the first time since 1991-92. In addition to Coleman's selection on Saturday, former UTC safety Buster Skrine was picked in the fifth round (137th overall) by the Cleveland Browns in 2011.
On Thursday, Coleman told Nooga.com he’d been contacted by “about 20 or 25 teams,” prior to the draft. Hopes of being chosen in the mid-rounds of the draft were dashed, though, when a collective standstill on selecting quarterbacks came after the third round. Seven signal callers were off the board at that point.
Sunday was a waiting game. Rounds four through seven unfolded over nearly five and half hours. Just two quarterbacks, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins (Redskins) in the fourth and San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley (Cardinals) in the sixth, were picked over the first three rounds of the day.
Midway through the seventh and final round, it appeared Coleman would have to settle for being an undrafted free agent.
Finally, though, the moment arrived.
“I cant wait to get there and get around those guys and learn as much as I can,” Coleman said. “There is just such a great legacy there at Green Bay.”