Kyrie Wilson figured his name wasn’t going to be called in the 2016 NFL draft.
The former Fresno State standout was right. Instead, he was waiting by his phone, hoping a team would sign him to an undrafted free-agent contract.
Wilson’s phone did ring. It was Oakland Raiders linebackers coach Sal Sunseri, who told the Bakersfield native the team intended to sign him.
The Raiders signed Wilson in April to a three-year deal worth $1.62 million, including a $5,000 signing bonus.
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Since signing, Wilson has participated in the team’s rookie minicamp and is in the midst of organized team activities that wrap up this week.
I just need to stay focused and get better every day and focus on what I have to do. That’s the biggest thing: stay in the book and understand the plays.
“It didn’t matter if I got drafted or where I went – just wanted to get an opportunity to play,” said the 6-foot-2, 227-pound Wilson. “When the Raiders called, it was very exciting and I’m happy that I got picked up.”
Wilson is again teammates with star quarterback Derek Carr after they were teammates at Fresno State in 2012-13.
Wilson said Carr has given him some words of wisdom since arriving at the team’s training facility in Alameda.
“He gives me pointers on what I need to do and to be better at my craft,” he said. “Just stay focused and learn the playbook, and he gives me pointers every now and then. It’s good to see a former teammate that I used to play with.”
Wilson said he doesn’t spend a lot of time with Carr when practice is over. He has a simple explanation for that: “I just usually go back to the hotel and look at the playbook and study it. Relax and get ready for the next day. I’m usually studying the playbook when I get back home.”
As a three-year starter for the Bulldogs, Wilson recorded 251 combined tackles (144 solo), 14.5 tackles for loss, and two interceptions in 38 starts at inside linebacker.
Nothing is a given for undrafted free agents in the NFL, and Wilson understands that.
Wilson said he’s heard some good reviews from teammates and coaches and hopes that continues when OTAs wrap up Thursday. The following week, the three-day mandatory minicamp begins June 14.
“They say I’m doing a good job and to keep working hard,” he said. “As an undrafted free agent, you have to put yourself out there to do well so the coaches can see what you’re doing and know what you’re doing. I’m working hard to try to make the team.”
Upcoming Raiders dates
- June 14-16: Mandatory minicamp
- July TBD: Training camp
- Aug. 12: at Arizona, 7 p.m. (preseason opener)
- Sept. 11: at New Orleans, 10 a.m. (season opener)
- Sept. 18: vs. Atlanta, 1:25 p.m. (home opener)