INDIANAPOLIS — Devon Cajuste is just happy to be here.
The Seaford resident and former Stanford receiver had always envisioned playing in the NFL. But as he sat at a circular table inside Lucas Oil Stadium, surrounded by reporters, he couldn’t help but count his blessings.
While other draft-day hopefuls grew tired of questions posed by reporters, Cajuste gladly, and graciously, soaked up the attention.
“It’s such a blessing. It’s so cool,” he beamed Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “The fact that I’m here — one of 332 people. You know how many other kids could have gotten selected?”
While Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell, Baylor’s Corey Coleman and Notre Dame’s Will Fuller are considered potential first-rounders in the April draft, Cajuste simply hopes to get noticed. Before he recorded 34 receptions for 557 yards and three touchdowns for the Cardinal in 2015, the Long Island native — he was born in Syosset — lettered in basketball and track and field at Holy Cross High School in Queens. And back then, an NFL career seemed like a pipe dream.
But the 6-4, 234-pound receiver, whose best game as a senior was a five-catch, 125-yard game in Stanford’s win over Notre Dame, has an opportunity to hear his name called on draft day.
“This is like a dream come true, really,” Cajuste said of being invited to Indianapolis. “It’s truly phenomenal.”
To stand out in a crowded field of pass-catchers, Cajuste knows that he’ll have to accentuate his positives, namely his size and versatility.
“I try to prove that I can be either a wide receiver or a flex tight end,” he said. “Put me in the slot, put me out wide, put me wherever you want, but I can play both. I can be a mismatch for a smaller corner or a corner in general, and I’m faster than a linebacker. I think that my size is an advantage, but also my speed.”
The congenial Cajuste is equal parts confident and extremely practical about the road ahead. Though he’s built to be a big target in the middle of the field and near the goal line, he is by no means a sure pick to be drafted.
“I didn’t even think I was going to make D-I coming out of Holy Cross,” he said. “Although I’m very competitive, I’m also very critical of myself. So thinking about what I’ve seen on TV — watching Reggie Bush or Megatron [Calvin Johnson] or Julio Jones. Just being amazed by what they can do, like, ‘Can I even do what they do?’ So I’m just really blessed that I could get here.”
Cajuste noted that he’s “similar” in size and stature to Jones, though he was quick to admit the Falcons All-Pro receiver is “a far greater athlete than I am.” But being under the radar doesn’t faze him.
At Stanford, he wore No. 89, the same jersey as Seahawks star receiver Doug Baldwin. And he felt a sense of responsibility to make his predecessor proud. “I feel like I represent Doug in a way because he wore ’89’ at Stanford, so the fact that I got to wear that, I had to keep his legacy going,” Cajuste said.
And now, he’s trying to make even more people proud — young football players on Long Island.
“I feel like I’m definitely making a statement for the Northeast kids,” he said. “I feel like we’re slowly getting in there, branching out. I’m just proud to represent.
“I come from a one-by-three-mile town — Seaford. When I say, ‘I hope I get drafted, period,’ I really do mean that.”