Long road to NFL finally over for McDaniel

by - Senior Writer -
The former Clemson safety and All American was considered by many draft gurus to be a third- or even second-round talent before the draft.

DeAndre McDanielDeAndre McDaniel
Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 180
Tallahassee, FL

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admits that he hasn’t stopped smiling since late last week when he first heard that the NFL’s labor situation might finally be resolved, and is even happier now that he is a New Orleans Saint.

The former Clemson safety and All American was considered by many draft gurus to be a third- or even second-round talent before the draft, but he somehow went seven rounds without being picked. A wrist injury suffered in the third game of the season against Auburn – a fracture - might have caused some teams to shy on the Florida native.

McDaniel even admitted after the draft that teams were concerned that he needed wrist surgery that would cause him to miss the entire 2011 season, forcing him into a free agent limbo while he waited for the owners and players to sort out their labor issue and get a collective bargaining agreement signed.

Now that has happened, he can't stop grinning.

“I was too happy when I heard that this might be coming to an end,” McDaniel told TigerNet. “I told my grandma that I have been smiling from ear to ear once I heard it was going to be over.”

He said that he and his agent heard from several teams, but his mind was made up once he heard the Saints were interested.

“I just felt like that was the best fit for me,” he said. “I have a guy there in [defensive coordinator] Gregg Williams that I feel like I can really learn from. It was a pretty quick decision. There were probably four teams that called, and the Giants were the last one, but I had pretty much made my decision before they called.”

McDaniel said that being a free agent allowed him to pick a team and situation that was best for him and his family.

“For me, the option to pick my team was great,” he said. “It really opened some things up for me. I wanted to pick a team that was the best fit for me, but I also wanted to pick a team that is also a winning team. The Saints are going to be good.”

He said he spoke with Saints secondary coach Tony Oden twice on Monday, and he said that Oden is excited to get a player of McDaniel’s caliber to help a New Orleans secondary that has been among the best over the past two seasons.

Since 2009, the Saints have allowed the fewest touchdown passes (28) in the NFL, have the most interception return yards (848), the highest average yardage per return (24.2) and are tied for the most interception returns for touchdowns (7).

“He called me twice and I have talked to him for a good while each time,” McDaniel said. “He basically said I could come in and compete and he said he knows he can use me on special teams. He said he knows the kind of player I am and that he wants me to use my ability. He told me to come ready to play and to compete.”

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