With ESPN cameras in his West Palm Beach home ready to capture what would have been the crowning achievement of his athletic career, Travis Rudolph sat through nearly seven hours of the NFL Draft on Saturday without hearing his name called.
The former Cardinal Newman and Florida State star who left the Seminoles after his junior season to enter the draft, was projected to be selected in the fifth or sixth round. But he watched as 32 other receivers were taken over the course of three days and seven rounds.
Following the draft, the 6-foot, 189-pound Rudolph agreed to a free-agent deal with the New York Giants. Rudolph’s agent, Jonathan Herbst, confirmed the deal in an email to The Post.
Cameras caught Rudolph surrounded by family and friends throughout the day, one of those being Bo Paske, the autistic student who Rudolph joined last summer during a visit to his middle school while Paske was dining alone. That act gained national attention for both Rudolph and Bo and earned Rudolph widespread praise.
Rudolph was watching the draft with a heavy heart. His father, Darryl Rudolph, was killed April 21 while doing handyman work in the backroom of a West Palm Beach club. Darryl, 55, was struck in the back/neck area by a gunshot from an adjacent room that penetrated the wall, according to authorities. The gun, identified as an AK-47 style rifle, discharged when a coworker was moving the firearm off a shelf, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report.
Paul Senat, 36, of Lantana, part-owner of Sugar Daddy’s Adult Cabaret, was arrested and charged with manslaughter on Tuesday.
Rudolph concluded his career at Florida State seventh in school history with 153 receptions and eighth with 2,311 receiving yards after leading the Seminoles with 56 catches, 840 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns last season.
He was ranked from the 27th to 37th best receiver in the draft by draft experts. Just six receivers were taken in the first two rounds before a run started with 20 coming off the board in rounds 3 through 5. Then after a lull in round 6 (one was taken), five more heard their names called in the final round, including Isaiah Ford of Virginia Tech, who went to the Dolphins with the 238 overall pick.
The knock on Rudolph is his speed and quickness. He ran a 4.65 40 yard dash at the NFL combine. Just four of the 51 receivers who ran the 40 had a slower time.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher believes too much emphasis was put on the stop watch and not his production.
“He can run the route tree, he has good size,” Fisher said prior to the draft. “He’s not a blazer but he’s fast. And if you watch he makes big plays.”
Despite misgivings some had about Rudolph entering the draft a year early, he told The Post in March that he had received good feedback from NFL representatives.
“Basically teams evaluate ‘How do you learn?’ ‘Are you a route-runner?’ ‘Are you disciplined in your route running?’ ‘Do you turn your head or do you keep your eyes on the ball when you’re catching it?’” Rudolph said. “Little stuff like that.”
Rudolph, who trained in West Palm Beach and Tallahassee leading up to the draft, added: “I’ve been taking it in daily. That’s my childhood dream to make it to the NFL.”
That dream is not over. But after not hearing his named called this weekend, the path to reaching his dream will have to begin in a different way than the one he had hoped.