The Washington Redskins were in contact with Lee’s Summit North grad and Northwest Missouri State running back Josh Caldwell from his Pro Day to the final day of the NFL Draft on April 27.
“They told my agent they wanted to get me into camp,” Caldwell said. “They called my agent on draft night and things went my way.”
He said that he wasn’t sure how many running backs would get drafted, but the Redskins only ended up taking one – Stanford’s Bryce Love – in the fourth round.
With Love likely to start the 2019 season on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list because of a torn ACL he suffered in his final college game, that opens the door for Caldwell, who was invited to participate in rookie mini-camp this weekend in Ashburn, Va.
“It’s an opportunity for me to come in and get some reps during mini-camp,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell had a standout football career with the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats and Missouri Western State. He was an NCAA Division II All-American in 2016 and an All-MIAA player for the Griffons. He had 139 carries for 830 yards and 11 touchdowns last season with Northwest Missouri State. He finished his career with 3,741 yards and 35 scores.
At Lee’s Summit North, he holds school records for most yards in a game (310) and most career yards (2,885). As a Bronco, he averaged 6.45 yards per carry and 96.2 yards per game and scored 20 TDs.
“I felt like I put together a good profile,” he said. “My senior year, wasn’t the best numbers wise, but we finished pretty well in the standings. I think what really caught scouts’ attention was the college career I put together as a whole. My coaches really put my name out there and that helped me get some exposure.
“I knew if I played my cards right, I would be in a situation where I could utilize my talents at the next level.”
When the NFL Draft began on April 25, Caldwell said he knew he likely would have to get to the NFL as an undrafted free agent, but all he needed was a shot, and he got that.
“It would take a miracle for me to get drafted because of the types of backs that were coming out this year,” he said. “We saw most of the guys taken in the draft were defensive guys. We were trying to sneak in through free agency and that’s what happened.”
However, there are challenges getting into the NFL after playing at the NCAA Division II level.
“The best of the best usually play at the Division I level,” he said. “You know when you sign with a Division II team that your chances of making it to the NFL are lower than a Division I guy. But if they are good enough, they’ll find you.
“At my first practice (in college), there were seven or eight scouts there. It was a big eye-opener. I knew if I put together a good career, I would have a chance to play in the NFL.”
Caldwell wants to take advantage of his chance, and to make it onto the Redskins’ roster. He said it will likely have to be through the special teams route.
“You have to get in and show that you’re a complete player,” Caldwell said. “I want to show that I can play special teams and show the coaches I can do what they need me to do.”