Even though 242 players had been drafted before him, Tony Palmer had no doubts.
“Doubt can drive you crazy,” Palmer said after the St. Louis Rams drafted him in the seventh round of the NFL draft. “You can’t let those kinds of thoughts enter your head.”
Palmer is one of two former Tigers to be selected in this year’s draft. A four-year starter at offensive guard and three-time All-Big 12 selection for Missouri, Palmer was the 19th guard taken in the draft and second by the Rams in the seventh round.
“I don’t know anything about him,” Palmer said of former Minnesota Gopher Mark Setterstrom, who was taken one pick before Palmer. “I’m just going to go in there and compete.”
The moment that he saw his name on ESPN, Palmer said, was “the most exciting moment of my life.”
“I accomplished one of the goals I’ve had in my life,” Palmer said. “I can’t really describe what it felt like to get that phone call (from the Rams).
“I’m feeling really great right now.”
Watching the draft in Redwood City, Okla., Palmer said his friends and family celebrated when Palmer officially became a Ram, yelling and screaming and hugging each other. Palmer’s mother, Adrianne Gaines, also said she couldn’t describe how she felt.
“It was only a matter of time before he was picked,” Gaines said. “It was a joyous moment for all of us.”
The moment that Palmer was picked was also one that he expected.
“I had been in close contact with the Rams, Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers,” Palmer said. “I knew I was going to get a shot with one of those teams.”
When the Rams begin their training camp in late-July, Palmer will be one of at least five guards competing to stay with the team. Primarily a left guard with the Tigers, Palmer can play at center or right guard. But with veterans Adam Timmerman and Andy McCollum established at right guard and center respectively, Palmer’s best chance to see extensive playing time this year will probably be at left guard.
“I don’t really have any expectations for playing time,” Palmer said. “I’m just going to go up there and try to learn and get better.”
Palmer’s mother has different expectations for her son.
“I expect him to work as hard now as he did to get here,” Gaines said. “I really haven’t had the chance to talk with him one-on-one.
“I’m just going to allow him to enjoy the moment.”
MING SIGNS: Former Missouri linebacker Derrick Ming signed a contract to play fullback for the Buffalo Bills. Ming said his phone was ringing an instant after the seventh round ended, and that the Bills told him he was a perfect fit for their offense. He also had an offer from the San Diego Chargers, but signed with the Bills because they only have one true fullback on the roster. Ming said he felt ecstatic when the deal was done.
WASHINGTON UNSIGNED: Although former Missouri defensive back Calvin Washington said he prepared himself to not be disappointed if he didn’t get drafted, he said he still was.
“It’s a little disheartening,” Washington said. “ You know that there is a chance that you won’t, but it still hurts a little. But it is not really over yet. I will still keep my hopes up that something will happen.”
Washington said he and his agent have narrowed down the teams that might still need him and are making sure they have all of Washington’s bio and statistics.
“He will be in contact with teams throughout the night and into (Monday),” Washington said.
Gregory Gaia and Stephen Sedlak contributed to this story