Less than two hours later, Randle was all smiles when the Super Bowl champion New York Giants selected the wide receiver with the final pick of the second round.
Both players got to walk on stage at Radio City Music Hall and receive a hug and handshake from Commissioner Roger Goodell as well as acknowledge the draftniks who were cheering for them. It was a long time coming.
“I was just waiting. There was nothing else I could do. It was all out of my control,” Randle said a day after he was passed over in the first round. “I did everything I was supposed to do, so it was up to the coaches.”
It was the Giants who decided to give the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Randle a chance to replace the departed Mario Manningham. Randle averaged 17.3 yards per catch in helping the Tigers reach the national championship game last season.
“Coming in with a great quarterback (Eli Manning) and a great receiving corps with Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, this will be an opportunity for me to help these guys out,” Randle said. “I am thankful to be here and want to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Randle was the ninth wideout taken, and the Giants felt lucky he was still around.
“He was one of those where at the end of the (first) night you’re saying he’s going to be one of the first few guys taken in the top of the (second) round,” said Giants director of college scouting Mark Ross. “Very surprising that he was still there. Just keep holding your breath, holding your breath. Nah, somebody will pick him. Until you start seeing some of these other receivers go. All right, there’s a chance and he was there.”
“I just sent him a text message that had a lot of exclamation points in it,” said Fleener, who had 10 touchdown catches last season and 18 for his career in Stanford’s prodigious offense. “We’re very good friends. I can’t even describe how excited I am right now.”
Indy not only parted with four-time MVP quarterback Peyton Manning this year, but also lost tight end Jacob Tamme to free agency and isn’t expected to bring back injury-ravaged veteran Dallas Clark. Owner Jim Irsay also brought in a new front office team and coaching staff and didn’t bring back many of its players from a 2-14 team.
“I expected to be on a team where I wasn’t familiar with the offense or the quarterback,” Fleener said. “I can’t wait to get started, to be honest with you.”
Neither can Luck, the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday who arrived in Indianapolis on Friday, visited the place that Peyton built, and then held a news conference.
“For me, getting to play with him the past couple of years, it is speed, he is dynamic,” Luck said of Fleener. “Anytime we crossed the 50-yard line it seemed like we just said, `Coby, go run. Go run past the safeties.’ Hopefully it continues to work out.”