Rashaun Simonise is getting his NFL shot.
The Calgary Dinos receiver signed as a free agent with the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday shortly after being bypassed in the NFL supplemental draft. But he wasn’t alone as none of the five other eligible players were selected, meaning they were all available to sign with teams as rookie free agents.
“Thanks Coach Lewis and the staff at the Bengals for making Rashaun Simonise a part of the family! letsroar blessed,” Brian Bundage, Simonise’s U.S.-based agent, said on his Twitter account.
Simonise said he wasn’t surprised at being passed over in the supplemental draft.
“I felt there was still a chance for a camp invite,” he said. “As long as I got an opportunity to get there (NFL), then it’s all good.”
The six-foot-five, 200-pound Simonise earned All-Canadian honours last season with 51 catches for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns in eight games with Calgary. But Canada West’s top rookie in 2013 was ruled academically ineligible for upcoming season, prompting Simonise to pursue an NFL career.
He held his pro day in Calgary on Monday with six NFL teams — the New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts — as well as the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders looking on.
Although the Bengals weren’t in attendance Monday, it was widely reported prior to Simonise’s pro day that Cincinnati had strong interest in the Canadian receiver. And Simonise is looking to make the most of his opportunity.
“There’s a lot I can learn,” said Simonise. “I’m never content, I’m always trying to get better.
“I feel like my work ethic and hunger to learn definitely set me apart from athletes in Canada as well as the U.S.”
Simonise becomes the second Dino to head to the NFL this off-season. Defensive back Elie Bouka is currently with Arizona after signing with the Cardinals as a free agent following the league’s draft in April.
Simonise posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.52 seconds in windy conditions at McMahon Stadium on Monday but has registered a laser-timed effort of 4.42 seconds. He also had a 35-inch vertical, broad jump of 10 feet three inches and eight reps in the 225-pound bench press while also going through agility and route-running drills.
Last year only one player, Clemson offensive lineman Isaiah Battle, went in the supplemental draft, going in the fifth round to the Rams. Battle was the first player selected in the supplemental draft since 2012, when the Cleveland Browns used a second-round pick on Baylor receiver Josh Gordon.
Since 2000, only 12 players have been taken in the draft and none in three of the last four years.
Prior to signing with Cincinnati, Simonise said two NFL teams had contacted Brundage although he politely declined to identify them.
If Simonise doesn’t catch on with the Bengals, he still has pro options. The speedy receiver could still play in the CFL as he’s eligible for next year’s Canadian college draft.
Predictably, though, his focus now is on doing what he can to stick in Cincinnati.
“This (NFL) has always been my dream,” he said. “I’ve felt if I was given an opportunity I could show I’m meant to play in the NFL.”