The 2018 NFL Draft concluded on Saturday, Apr. 28. USF defensive tackle prospect Deadrin Senat and FanSided have teamed up on an exclusive multi-part blog chronicling his draft experience.
Editor’s note: Deadrin Senat’s blog is told to and transcribed by FanSided senior editor Michelle Bruton.
Getting the phone call from the Atlanta Falcons saying that they were drafting me at 90th overall was an unbelievable feeling.
The whole time I was thinking about taking a video to share in this article, so I had my teammate take one of me when I got the call:
I wasn’t able to sleep at all the night before. I spent the first day of the draft with my high school teammate J.C. Jackson, and neither of us could sleep. We watched the first round go by, and then I took a nap around 5:00 a.m. About an hour later, I woke up my mentor, Tony Navarro, and I made him come work out with me since I couldn’t sleep.
On Day 2 of the draft, I got a phone call from the Dallas Cowboys around 2:00 p.m. telling me they really liked me and were interested in drafting me, and was I ready to get that phone call from them later on. And then they had a pick at No. 50, but they didn’t choose me there. So after that, I really didn’t know what to expect.
I left the house a couple times as the day went on, but I came back near the end of the third round. I didn’t think I was going to be getting a call from the Falcons. I had just gone on a visit there on April 18, which went really well. I was the only one there and I really got to spend quality time with everyone.
It was kind of crazy, because the day before the workout my agent called and said I was flying out the next day. They booked me a flight, and then I was on the plane going to Georgia. It was a really good visit. I met everybody, I met the whole defensive coaching staff. I felt like I was at home because they knew my head coach, Coach [Charlie] Strong, and they knew my defensive coordinator. And they were telling me they really liked me. I sat down with [Falcons head coach] Dan Quinn and [general manager] Thomas Dimitroff, and they seemed really excited to speak to me.
The Falcons were also one of the teams that I met with one-on-one at the Combine, which I can tell you now.
We haven’t talked much yet about how I’m going to fit into their scheme, but we talked about me coming in and having the mindset that I’m going to help the team out this year. They said they believe in me, and that I just have to believe in myself.
I leave Thursday next week to go up there and start rookie minicamp and that’s a blessing, just to get my feet wet. I’m really looking forward to it.
It was really exciting. It’s a night I’ll never forget. I’m happy I got my name called. I’m happy I’m a professional football player now. I’m ready to get to work and I’m ready to prove myself to everybody.
I will be leaving my family in Florida, but it’s just going to be more motivation to achieve my goals, so I can provide for my nieces and my sister. This is a job, and they understand that, they know that I’m going away. My grandma lives close to my sister, so my sister is doing great. She has a good job, and whenever I get some free time to come back, then I’ll work out in Tampa and see my family. She understands. And on special occasions, like on the kids’ birthdays, I’ll fly them up to see me.
The first time I’m able to bring my nieces to see me play in Atlanta will be a dream come true. But I need to establish myself and make sure I’m actually playing, and not watching. I don’t love that feeling; I want to be on the field when I invite someone to the game. I’m really looking forward to it!
The Falcons fan response so far has been amazing. I’ve been getting a lot of people saying that I’m going to be a great addition to the defensive line, and that me and Grady Jarrett are going to play great together. I like #RiseUp, I like #InBrotherhood, I like the way they use that when they tag me. It’s been a warm welcome so far, and I feel like they love me and they want me to help them win games.
I’m excited to get to work and soak up the knowledge from these guys who have already been there doing things the right way.
The Falcons texted me the day after the draft and asked me what number I wanted. I chose No. 94. But the jersey number doesn’t matter much to me; it’s the name on the back that matters. I get to represent my people in heaven who have that last name, and that’s the biggest blessing of them all.
Some people have asked me what the hashtag #VBE means in my Instagram posts. I’m from the Village Oaks community in Immokalee. A group of us growing up called ourselves the Village Boys. All the guys that played sports and played football, we would all get together. It was something we started and we wanted to branch out. We called each other a brotherhood, so those guys who look up to me can see that it’s a way out of Immokalee.
A lot of people who live in Village Oaks work in farming, and some people never have the opportunity to pursue other things. So we all got together and started using it. We turned it into something positive, and we remember what we went through growing up. Now we have guys going to school and going to make something positive out of themselves.
I didn’t always have new shoes growing up; I didn’t have this, I didn’t have that, but just to show these kids that if you continue the grind there’s going to be light at the end of the tunnel means a lot to them. Those guys love that and look up to me. Hearing that they’re getting a job or going to school or helping their parents pay their rent means a lot to me.
I’m excited to use my platform in the NFL to give back to my community. First and foremost, I want to help my family out and take care of them. I’m thinking long-term. I know I got drafted in the third round, but in the grand scheme of things that money isn’t going to last me the rest of my life. Just knowing that, it puts me ahead the rest of the game. I want to be able to start charities in Immokalee, give out bookbags, work with the kids in the schools who were in the same shoes I was in. It was something I always thought about, but now I can actually put something together.
It’s going to take time to get that going. The most important thing I can do now is just give back my time. I want to be able to let these kids know that I was once where you are, and know the sky is the limit and don’t let anyone talk you down.
I have some of the best agents in the world and me and my agent have a plan and that’s something we’ve been talking about. We’re going to wait until after rookie minicamp and sit down and talk to financial advisors and how I can save money and make my money work for me. My model is to keep everything the same and stay humble. We know that I need a car, because I gave my sister my old car. I need reliable transportation, and I don’t need a big old house, I just need a one bedroom. My agents have been there for me through this whole process, and we’re going to sit down and make a plan for the years to come.
The Falcons were always one of the teams I hoped would draft me, but I thought it was a slim shot that they’d actually call me. You never know which team will call, so you can’t set your mind on it.
But I sat down and talked to Stephen Nicholas, who played a long career in the NFL and played [linebacker] for the Falcons. He went to South Florida, too, and now he’s coaching for the Bucs. We talked about his time with the Falcons, and how they knew his work ethic and expected nothing less from me. So I sat down with Snake — we call him “Snake” — and talked to him and told him how the visit went, and that was the best part about it — if they were to take me, it would be an honor and a blessing to play where he played. I told him I’d make more tackles than he made. I want to do what he did. I want to leave my legacy. People remember him and the things he did, and that meant a lot to me because he came into my life as a coach and a mentor.
Now that I’m in the league and I can call him and talk about the Falcons, it’s really exciting. After I got drafted and talked to the Falcons and the coaches, then Coach Strong called me and everyone was really happy for me. I’m happy because someone from South Florida played where I’m going to play. He told me all the stories about the Falcons, and now I can go live those stories.
Deadrin Senat is a defensive tackle prospect out of the University of South Florida. The Immokalee, Florida, product has collected numerous accolades throughout his college career, including being named an All-Conference (AAC) first-team selection in 2017, a season in which he ranked second for the Bulls in tackles. Follow Deadrin’s NFL Draft journey in Part 1: Pre-Combine, Part 2: Post-Combine and Part 3: Post-Pro Day.