Kareem Are will spend this coming weekend at home in Elmont waiting to see if his name is called in the NFL Draft. The 6-6, 325-pound guard from Florida State who played high school ball at Sewanhaka will be surrounded by family and friends — and a fully charged phone — hoping to get a chance with one of 32 teams. At the center of it all will be his mother, whose name speaks more to this process than anything else that has happened in Are’s life.
Her name is Patience.
Are (pronounced Ar-uh) will need plenty of that to keep his sanity and his focus while player after player is selected. He has no illusions about going early, he said. He knows where he stands in the mix of offensive linemen who will be drafted. But he also knows in his heart that he will be able to help at least one team out there, and that they will, at some point, call his name from the stage in Philadelphia.
“I think I’m going to be a late-round steal,” Are told Newsday. “It’d be one of the best feelings ever. This is something I’ve been working for for years and something I’ve been dreaming about for years as well. It’s something that I don’t just want to happen, it has to happen. For my family. It’ll mean everything.”
This weekend will represent just the latest part of that journey. After his career at Sewanhaka he played two years at Fort Scott (Kansas) CC, where he was considered one of the top guards in the NJCAA. He was so impressive he wound up at Florida State, where he redshirted for one season and played two years at guard. He was named a second-team All-ACC guard as a fifth-year senior.
Are grew up a Giants fan, and he has met with the team twice during the pre-draft process. The first time was a private meeting after his Pro Day at Florida State. The second time was at a local workout the Giants held a few weeks ago. He also attended the Jets’ local workout and had a private workout with the Raiders.
“It was a cool day,” he said of his visit to East Rutherford and the team for which he grew up rooting. “I love the Giants. But at this point any of the 32 is fine with me.”
He has another connection to the Giants: Bobby Hart. Hart, the team’s seventh-round pick in 2015, was a teammate of Are’s at Florida State. They spoke after Are’s workout for the Giants, and Hart gave Are some advice on what to expect in the coming days, as well as the coming years.
“I’ll probably be in a somewhat similar situation,” Are said of being a late-round pick, as Hart was. “(He said to) stay humble and keep working. At the end of the day, the number don’t matter. When you are finally on the team and finally on the field, it’s whoever performs. That’s the mentality I’m going to keep.”
It may be difficult for Are to fit into the plans of some teams. The draft is not very deep at offensive line, and some of the top tackles in the selection process project as guards. Are is a lot taller than most guards, something he said can be a hindrance when it comes to getting low and blocking much shorter defensive tackles. But he also said there are advantages, particularly in arm length, if he can get his hands inside to control the opponent.
He also missed several games last season with a concussion, something teams have been leery about. He’s been cleared, but teams are having their own doctors do workups on him.
All of that may mean that Are has to prove himself as an undrafted free agent. Or as a rookie minicamp tryout for some team.
It won’t be ideal, but Are said he can make that work, too.
“I’m not the strongest, not the fastest,” he said of his skills, “but I’m out there getting it done every play.”
Now he just needs a team that will take a chance on letting him do that.