Two Kruger brothers — Joe and Dave — entered this week’s NFL Draft hoping to get the phone call and have their name called.
The two former local high school football stars at Timpanogos and Pleasant Grove also thought it would be cool to end up playing in Cleveland with their famous older brother Paul Kruger, who signed with the Browns after winning a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens this past February.
Consider it a tie.
Joe was the one to be drafted, getting picked 212th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round. Dave, on the other hand, signed a free-agent contract to play for the Browns.
“It was a relief,” Joe said. “You sit there for three days straight. I didn’t think I was going to go in the first round but I was thinking maybe the third. I didn’t really know where I was going to go. I heard a lot of different things from different teams.
“I’m just excited to get picked. I’m ready to get on the field and start playing, start showing off my capabilities.”
On the other hand, Dave had a few more options and was able to decide on Cleveland.
“It’s crazy that Paul and I are going to be playing with each other,” he said. “I’ve actually been playing with one of my brothers since my freshman year in high school. How crazy is that (to have it continue in the NFL)?”
Paul said he couldn’t be more proud of both of his brothers.
“I’m excited for both of them,” he said. “It seems like a really nice fit for Joe in Philadelphia and if he comes along good, he should be able to jump into the No. 2 spot pretty quick. Then having Dave in Cleveland, that’s what I’ve been hoping for for a couple of months. I’m ecstatic to have him coming out.”
The NFL veteran said it was frustrating for him to watch the rounds of the draft roll by and go so long without having a Kruger get selected.
“I know the type of athlete Joe is and it was hard to see him drop into those later rounds,” he said. “It’s hard to predict a draft. It’s a risk that you take, a gamble. In my opinion, you’ve seen a guy who is first or second round talent fall to the seventh round. I know what he can produce, but the NFL is a tough world.”
Joe said he was with the family sitting around watching television, eating and playing cards.
“When we were getting into the sixth and seventh round, that’s when it was hitting me,” Joe explained. “I was a little stressed, not knowing was going on.”
When the Eagles finally called, Joe ended up talking to a number of people including Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly and the defensive line coach.
“They all told me congratulations and that they were excited to get me out there,” Joe said. “It was a cool experience. Not a lot of people get that phone call, so I’m glad I got one.”
It wasn’t for another couple of hours after Joe got picked that Dave ended up finalizing a deal with Cleveland.
Joe joked that he felt “a little” left out, being the only one of the three brothers not in Cleveland, but said he was super-excited for Dave.
For Dave, getting a chance to head to the Browns was too good to pass up. He said he hoped it would be a benefit to have Paul on the same team, but it’s also a little bit higher expectations.
“He’s going to help me and teach me things that I haven’t learned yet,” Dave said. “There will also be some pressure to live up to that and accomplish what he has accomplished.”
Dave also had the most interest from Baltimore and Carolina, but he figured Cleveland was the best fit.
“I just feel like it is a good opportunity,” Dave said. “Paul was crossing his fingers that I was going to the Browns too. We’re all pretty excited.”
Paul said his advice to his brothers is to understand what it takes to be successful in the NFL.
“Find the few things you are really good at and keep getting really good at them,” Paul said. “You need to have a niche in the NFL. Some guys it’s special teams, pass rush or run stop. You need to find where you can excel and make the most of that opportunity.”
A number of former BYU football players also had to wait until the draft ended before getting their chance to join an NFL team. Offensive lineman Braden Brown, who signed with the St. Louis Rams, said that provided some benefits.
“It’s kind of been surreal, really,” he said. “When the draft came, it really felt like it wasn’t here yet. I was expecting to be drafted in the later rounds but my agent and I said from the beginning that being a priority free agent a lot of times works out better than being a late-round draft pick. That’s the mindset I had going into the draft.”
Brown said the Rams have a pretty good roster situation and as far as offensive lineman only took one guard in the draft.
“I’ll have a chance to make the team and that’s all I can ask for,” he said. “It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to play in the NFL. I’ve put a lot of blood sweat and tears into this game and I’ve been extremely blessed to be able to play this game for so long.”
After months of hard work, just getting a shot is what players like linebacker Uona Kaveinga were hoping for.
“To say I’m overjoyed is an understatement,” said Kaveinga, who signed with the Denver Broncos. “This is a dream come true. I’m humbled and I’m blessed. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to play at the next level.”
Other ex-Cougars who signed on Saturday night included linebacker Brandon Ogletree (Miami Dolphins) and offensive lineman Braden Hansen (Oakland Raiders).
All of the rookies, including Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, who was drafted fifth overall by the Detroit Lions, will now head to their respective teams and try to prove they have what it takes to make an NFL roster.
Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.