Persistence pays off for Chiefs rookie WR Adam Drake

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – New Chiefs undrafted rookie wide receiver Adam Drake didn’t have a lot of available options in recent weeks with training camps in full bloom around the NFL.

Aug. 24, 2014; Minneapolis; Eastern Illinois wide receiver Adam Drake (88) makes a play during a game against Minnesota,  (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Aug. 24, 2014; Minneapolis; Eastern Illinois wide receiver Adam Drake (88) makes a play during a game against Minnesota, (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Drake, who played collegiately at Eastern Illinois, sat at home down on his luck wondering what to do without any offers on the table.

He had groin surgery shortly after his Pro Day workout in March, attended the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints rookie minicamps on a tryout basis, but left without a contract.

Drake continued to train, splitting time in Arizona and Miami, but the telephone was disappointingly silent the past two months.

His fortunes changed, however, within a matter of four days at the suggestion of a loved one.

“My dad actually had me write a letter to the Chiefs just to let them know I had surgery after Pro Day,” Drake said Tuesday, “just to let them know my surgery is 100 percent healed and I’m good to go. They called me later that night and told me they were going to fly me out for a tryout.”

The Chiefs contacted Drake Thursday, worked him out Friday, signed him to a free-agent contract Saturday, and then had him on the practice field Sunday.

The 6-2, 200-pound Drake, who said he sent out letters to “a couple of other teams,” arrives with production, having enjoyed a prolific college career with 202 catches for 2,979 yards and 26 touchdowns. His 93 catches for 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014 earned him a first-team All-OVC selection and third-team All-American selection by The Associated Press.

Good numbers, for sure, but Drake is behind the power curve learning the Chiefs’ complex version of the West Coast offense.

The good news is he has help.

Drake lined up with the third-team offense Tuesday morning during the install period of practice and split wide left of the line of scrimmage.

Offensive coordinator Doug Pederson immediately killed the play, called Drake to him and lined up the wide receiver properly closer to the left tackle.

Those teaching moments are sure to continue as Drake learns the playbook.

“Coach was pretty upfront from the get-go,” Drake said. “Obviously, the sooner I learn the offense, the better it is for me and my opportunity to start playing. He was pretty cool at the beginning, saying if he puts me in these next couple of days, he’s going to be in my ear to help me out and kind of tell me where to line up, what to do, just to get a feel for it. It’s really nice to have a coach like that because it doesn’t put that much more pressure on you.”

The Chiefs are crowded at wide receiver with 14 on the training camp roster.

Nevertheless, Drake said there is an advantage to being in the meeting room, which includes established veterans in the scheme, and members of the coaching staff.

“It means I can absorb everything they’re saying,” he said. “(Jeremy) Maclin, he knows a ton about the offense. Jason (Avant), I call him ‘Textbook’ because he knows everything. So just sitting in the meeting room and listen to everything they have to say when we look over one-on-ones, the coaches are constantly letting them talk to us, give us feedback on what worked for them in the past, things they messed up on when they were rookies.”

Drake knows his road to making the Chiefs’ 53-man roster won’t be easy.

But he is dedicated to pick up as much as he can in the coming weeks from coaches and veterans, and diving into the playbook so he can make the most of repetitions.

“It’s been really nice to absorb everything they say,” Drake said. “My main focus is to take all that in as I can and try to learn the playbook as quick as possible.”


Herbie Teope is the lead beat writer and reporter for Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.