Warren getting chance to prove himself with Jets
Donovan Warren was convinced he'd hear his name called eventually at the NFL draft.
The former Michigan cornerback just had to be patient, he thought, because someone surely wanted him. Three days, seven rounds and 50 defensive backs later, Warren was still unemployed.
``Definitely, I was shocked,'' Warren said Friday in between practices at the New York Jets' rookie minicamp.
Once considered a possible first-round draft pick, Warren hurt his stock by running a 4.59 40-yard dash at the NFL combine while still feeling the effects of a sprained right ankle from months earlier.
``I really didn't talk too much about it to people about my ankle and things like that,'' Warren said. ``It definitely hindered me a little bit, but it's doing much better now and I'm just going to continue to get better.''
The Jets were also surprised that Warren, who left school a year early, went undrafted. Coach Rex Ryan said Warren was probably the highest-rated player still left on the team's draft board. So, within hours of the draft ending, the Jets signed Warren as an undrafted free agent.
``Being undrafted, I feel like I have a chip on my shoulder,'' Warren said. ``Everyday, I'm going out there and have something to prove. That's just something I'm looking forward to each and every day. That's just motivation for me.''
Ryan said Warren will split time between cornerback and safety, but the coach believes his best path to the NFL will be at safety.
``I feel comfortable at both,'' said Warren, who started two games at safety at Michigan. ``Whatever I can do to make this team, and make the team better.''
Warren thinks he has the right mentality to make a switch from cornerback to safety at the professional level.
``I feel like me being a physical and aggressive guy, I can definitely make that transition and make it smooth,'' he said. ``I feel like this minicamp, just getting my feet wet at the position and learning the system, I look for big things coming in the future.''
Warren said several teams talked to him about signing, including Minnesota, Miami and Seattle - some as a safety and others as a cornerback. He was intrigued by the possibility of joining Ryan's defense, which ranked No. 1 overall and against the pass last season.
``I had a great meeting with Coach Ryan and the Jets,'' he said. ``I felt the enthusiasm and I liked the progress the team made this past year. I definitely felt myself coming in and I felt like I could make an impact.''
Warren's four interceptions led the Wolverines last year, and he was ranked by one draft publication as the sixth-best cornerback available. Former NFL safety Mark Carrier, Warren's godfather and the Jets' defensive line coach, says Warren has handled the recent adversity well.
``I was very surprised,'' Carrier said of Warren being undrafted. ``Here's a kid that started at a top-notch program and was first team All-Big Ten and obviously, the 40 time has a big factor in that, but the young man has some good, quality film and he was a good player. You can say this guy's a competitor, he knows how to play.''
Carrier, whose best man was Warren's father, Alvin, helped the defensive back prepare for the jump to the NFL a year early but made sure he made the decision himself.
``I don't think he's regretted it,'' Carrier said. ``Obviously, I think he wishes things worked out a little bit different for him. I think with the changes at Michigan and what's gone on, the Michigan he went to wasn't there anymore. For him to go back, was that going to be more of a burden on him to go out and play or not? So, that was up to him.''
Warren also isn't expecting any preferential treatment from Carrier, who said he had no influence in the team signing him, or the rest of the Jets' coaching staff.
``If anything, it probably works against him,'' Carrier said, ``because he knows me and the expectations that you've got to go out there and perform.''
Warren just wants to make sure the Jets are calling his name and including him in their plans for the secondary by the end of rookie camp Sunday.
``I just hope to accomplish letting these coaches know that I'm versatile and I can play safety and corner,'' he said, ``and that I can grasp the defense just like that real quick.''