Quickly after the 2013 NFL draft was completed following the completely unnecessary celebration for "Mr. Irrelevant", the Cincinnati Bengals were one of 32 teams around the league that began making calls and offering minimum contracts to college free agents looking a chance to make a squad. At the very least, hoping to make a lasting impression on film for another team or as a backup plan for teams planning for the worst (aka, injuries).
Southern Illinois University outside linebacker Jayson Dimanche was one of hundreds of college free agents waiting for the phone to ring. When the phone did ring, he was hoping that it was the Bengals (or the Jacksonville Jaguars) writes Kevin Maloney with NJ.com.
“I was nervous because I really didn’t want anyone to draft me unless it was the Bengals or the Jaguars,” DiManche, who in the fall put the finishing touches on an accolade-filled career at Southern Illinois, conceded about the prospects of getting to choose his destination as a free agent over being drafted into an unfavorable position.
“I knew those were the two best spots for me. The Jaguars, just because they didn’t have many linebackers and their head coach (Gus Bradley) coached with my college head coach (Dale Lennon), were a good fit. I knew I’d get a good opportunity there and I also knew that I’d get an opportunity with the Bengals. As the rounds kind of went on, I was hoping that another team didn’t just draft me.”
Head coach Marvin Lewis called Dimanche during the seventh round, telling the young linebacker that he'd like to bring Dimanche to Cincinnati if he wasn't drafted. It was down to two teams. According to DiManche, the Bengals offered more money and a higher signing bonus than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both of whom showed considerable interest in the linebacker. So he told his agent that wants Cincinnati.
Money wasn't the only reason.
DiManche thinks he has a shot to make the 53-man roster this year, especially considering the team's history with undrafted free agents.
“Last year the Bengals had seven or eight linebackers on their 53-man roster and five or six of them were undrafted guys,” DiManche said.
“Vontaze Burfict was undrafted — though he should have been drafted — and then lead the team in tackles last year. What really attracted me to Cincinnati and coach (Paul) Guenther was that they don’t care if you’re drafted or not drafted. If you can play then you’re going to play. I know I can play so as long as I go out there and do my thing all the chips should fall in place.”