Outside doubt has always fueled Carson Wells’ fire.
Going undrafted over the weekend will only motivate the former Colorado linebacker even more.
“No doubt. I mean, that’s been my whole thing the whole time,” Wells said of being energized by naysayers.
Although Wells was disappointed to not hear his name during the seven-round NFL Draft, he secured an opportunity on Sunday when he signed a free agent deal with the reigning AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals.
“That’s every person’s dream to hear your name called, but that’s just something I can’t control at the end of the day,” he said. “I’m really excited to get to the Bengals. That was one of the teams I was talking to throughout the process, so I’m really excited to get out there and get to work.”
This was the first time since 2016 that CU didn’t have any players drafted. Wells and fellow linebacker Nate Landman were both projected as possible late round picks, but wound up with free agent deals. Landman signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday.
“We both thought through the whole process we would get our names called,” Wells said. “It didn’t work out for either one of us but a lot of those same feelings for both of us moving forward. He’ll do a great job with the Falcons. That’s a good team, too.”
Landman and Wells, who both came to CU as freshmen in 2017, were two of the best defensive players in the Pac-12 the past few years and leaders for the Buffs.
Landman earned All-Pac-12 honors four times and was a two-time semifinalist for the Butkus Award. He is tied for fifth in CU history with 409 career tackles, while ranking second in unassisted tackles (285) and sixth in tackles for loss (41).
Wells racked up 15.5 sacks and 38 tackles for loss during his CU career and was one of the more dominant edge rushers in the Pac-12 the past two seasons. He led the country in tackles for loss in 2020 and was second in the Pac-12 in TFLs last season.
Despite being one of the most productive linebacker duos in the Pac-12, neither got the call during the draft. Wells, however, said he will make the most of his opportunity as a free agent with the Bengals.
“Obviously, you want to hear your name called (during the draft),” he said. “A select few get to have that. But signing as a free agent, you can choose the best fit that you feel and it’s a shorter time until your second contract. So there’s positives and negatives to both.”
Wells was excited to get a contract from the Bengals because he feels they are a good fit for the start of his pro career.
“I feel like I can come in and play pretty early,” he said. “They have a few vets right now that are coming back off of injuries, so there’s a chance for me to come in and play pretty early, come in and play special teams. I feel like I’m a good fit schematically for that defense. They do a lot of things that we did at CU. We’ve had five different defenses pretty much (at CU), so I’ve played and done a lot of things schematically and I feel like I would come in and be a good fit.”
Wells is looking forward to joining a team that already has two former Buffs – cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and defensive lineman Josh Tupou – and a team that is coming off a successful season after playing in the Super Bowl.
More than anything, though, Wells is looking forward to competing. There were 23 former Buffs on NFL rosters at some point last season and 10 of them were never drafted. He hopes to join that list of undrafted Buffs to find success.
“I don’t go up there until May 12, but I’m itching to get up there and start working,” he said.