Not everyone gets selected in the NFL Draft. In fact, only 255 players are selected on draft day with hundreds more going undrafted, hoping to secure a spot on a team directly afterwards.
That was the case with wide receiver Josh Hammond, an undrafted player out of the University of Florida. No combine invite, no Pro Day, no problem. While Hammond was not given much of an opportunity to showcase his talents over the offseason, he was able to receive an invite from the east-west shrine game, something that eventually helped him as he moved forward.
“So I think that was kinda my mentality at the east-west shrine game just to go out and perform and do all the things I had to do there, because there was no guarantee that I was gonna get a combine invite, and I knew that,” Hammond told Big Cat Country last week.
While he did feel he deserved a combine invite, when one didn’t come, Hammond chose not to be discouraged, instead he continued to work. When pro days were cancelled for the Gators, he still wasn’t discouraged, instead he and his agent set up a pro day of their own, something not everyone would opt to do.
What Hammond called a very, “interesting” day, would turn out to be something that likely propelled him to even be signed following the draft in April.
“I didn’t make it to the combine, I didn’t have any number and I know a lot of teams were waiting to kinda see what the numbers were,” he said. “I was getting calls from teams asking [about the numbers]. So, it was definitely a thing I had to do to kinda put myself in a better situation.”
Hammond would run an unofficial 4.53-second 40-yard dash, a three-cone of 6.96 seconds, a broad jump of 121.5 inches, and a vertical jump of 36.5 inches.
As draft day carried on, Hammond admits it did “suck” to not get drafted, although he didn’t allow that to bring him down. He knew there was a chance it would happen, he saw the same situation happen to his brother, Frankie Hammond Jr. only seven years ago. After looking through prospective teams, including the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons, Hammond ultimately settled on the Jaguars.
Hammond felt the team’s new offense under offensive coordinator Jay Gruden would help him in his chances of making the team. The more players who will need to play catch up, the better. Any advantage a player might feel they have is another point to the prospective team.
“I talked to the receiver coach [Keenan McCardell], and he felt confident in me coming there. he was excited that I was coming there. And he just looked forward to me [coming] in and make plays and do the things I have to do.”
Hammond is actually familiar with his new receivers coach. He was recruited by McCardell in 2015 while the Jaguars coach was still coaching collegiately at Maryland.
“That’s pretty much all I remembered,” Hammond said when asked what else he could remember about McCardell. “And then once I was going to the Jags I actually like looked him up kinda figured everything else out. And now I know what I was kinda working with.”
While at Florida, Hammond wasn’t an overly productive receiver, but not due necessarily to his abilities, but because the team gave repetitions to a multitude of receivers over the past several seasons under head coach Dan Mullen. Something that would allow him to showcase his abilities, but not necessarily be the number one receiver in the offense.
Hammond would tally just 87 receptions for 1,138 yards, and six touchdowns with the Gators, however, the one trait that stands out to anyone while watching the former Gators receiver, is his hands. While at Florida, Hammond would drop just four passes in his career on 127 targets, with only one dropped pass coming over the past two years, according to Pro Football Focus.
WHAT A GRAB BY JOSH HAMMOND pic.twitter.com/N9C2yYpx6c— InAllKindsOfWeather.com (@AllKindsWeather) December 29, 2018
“I think that’s one thing that I kinda pride myself on is trying not to drop passes,” said Hammond when asked what he feels he brings to the table. “That’s kinda the one thing I make sure I focus on. Everything could be amazing, but if you don’t catch the ball it’s pointless. I try to have as least drops as possible. As far as from a quarterback standpoint I wanna make sure that they know when they’re throwing the ball to me, they can trust that I’m gonna come down with it.”
Now with the Jaguars, Hammond has dealt with even more unorthodox situations, having to participate in the offseason completely virtually, the same as his peers. Yet another hurdle and learning curve to get over. Hammond says the team’s rookies have been supportive of each other, making sure everyone is there on time - he’s even spoken to several veteran players on the roster who have been more than accepting.
“They’re very open about ‘hey, here’s my number, if you guys ever need anything hit me up’, they know the playbooks a lot. It’s completely different from NFL to college and they’ve welcomed us with to open arms.”
With the Jaguars, it’s anyone’s game to make the roster, especially at the receiver position. While Hammond will have a tough road in front of him, he appears to have the heart and desire to get to where he needs to. As for what he wants Jaguars fans to know about him, Hammond stated it plainly:
“Just a young kid that’s gonna come in, work hard, do whatever he has to do to make the team better, and when the ball comes my way I’ll definitely be a reliable source to catch the football.”