Arizona State linebacker Brandon Magee went undrafted last weekend, but the Cowboys liked him enough to give him a $70,000 signing bonus as a free agent. That’s more than any seventh-round pick from the 2012 draft received.Fortunately for Magee, the team with the top offer was the best fit for him.
The Cowboys, who didn’t have a seventh-round pick but ended up with two third-rounders, used only one choice on a linebacker. They selected South Carolina’s DeVonte Holloman in the sixth round, with their final choice. Magee said he will begin his career at middle linebacker next weekend at the team's rookie minicamp. He played the strongside and the weakside at ASU.
"I just wanted the best fit for me," Magee said. "The Cowboys are the best opportunity for me to come in here and contribute. It's exciting. Even though I'm a free agent, it doesn't mean anything. I'm going to get out there and I'm going to show what I can do."
Dallas had a fourth-round grade on Magee, and Magee's agent, Blake Baratz of The Institute for Athletes, said he had offers from every team in the league after the draft. Yet, for whatever reason, Magee went undrafted.“I think it was luck of the draw,” Magee said. “It could have been my injury. It could have been my baseball contract with Boston. It could have been my size. There are so many factors that go into it. But right now, I’m looking forward to the opportunity. Everyone passed me up. I’m never going to forget that. It’ll just make it a better success story.”
Magee is 5 foot 11, 223 pounds with arms measuring only 28 ¾ inches. By comparison, Barkevious Mingo, the No. 6 overall pick of the Browns, is 6-4, 241 and has 33 ¾-inch arms, and Jarvis Jones, the No. 17 overall pick of the Steelers, is 6-3, 245 pounds and has 33-inch arms.
Magee has been unlucky, too. He ruptured an Achilles’ tendon in a team scrimmage during the summer of 2011, forcing him to miss what would have been his final college season. He returned in 2012 and sprained his right elbow late last season. Though he didn’t miss a game, the injury kept him from bench pressing for scouts before the draft.Magee was a baseball player until high school, and a good one at that. The outfielder twice went to the College World Series in three seasons with ASU’s baseball team, and he was drafted three times by Major League teams. He turned down offers from the Rays and the Athletics but signed with the Boston Red Sox as a 23rd-round pick last year and has that as a fallback if the NFL doesn’t work out.
But Magee, who made 113 tackles last season, insists he is a football player first. He intends to make the Cowboys’ roster and leave baseball in his past.
"I'm so happy to be part of such a great organization," Magee said. "I'm going to work my tail off. Trust me."
-- Charean Williams