“I’m like, ‘I’m in the National Football League, my position is changing right now, something that’s strange to me,” Gafford recalls thinking.
As a cheater on the practice squad hoping to remain in the league, he held those ideas to himself. Gafford, in a corner, swept the edges of the field and served as a wide receiver when an injury caused the Raiders to need help at the position.
Two years later, he has made his first Opening-Day NFL roster. He attributes his ability to focus solely on playing during the offseason.
“The last two years I was in or out of roles, whether it was offense or defense,” Gafford said. He said, “Going into this offshine, I knew I was going to play the role of 100 percent wide receiver, and for me to be the guy who’s playing on Sunday, I have to work on my craft myself. Will have to completely dedicate and get better as a receiver. ”
Gafford appeared in a regular-season game, which was the first season, with most of the special teams playing. He was released by the Tennessee Titans after signing as an indirect rogue free agent from Wyoming. Gaffer was inducted into the Raiders’ practice squad two days later and made his first NFL appearance on Denver on Christmas Eve.
When Gafford returned for his second season in 2019, there was still some uncertainty as to where he would fit. He mostly worked at wide receiver and resumed in the practice squad before making four appearances as an active player. He made one start and caught two passes for 66 yards, including a touchdown of 49 yards.
“When I got the chance, I just took advantage of it,” Gafford said. “So, it was a kind of decision that they made, but it was something that I loved, ‘Look, (this) Ron Grattan.’ He’s a celebrity, so I’m going to do whatever he wants me to do. ”
While the 24-year-old Iowa native is beginning to establish himself, he is still willing to do whatever he wants to do to maintain his place.
He said, “(two years ago) I was just a gadget man and the coach did whatever I asked him to do.” “Gave them a look and gave it the best I could. So, from my rookie year to now, I definitely want to be a man who can step on the field all the time and play 24/7 and play every Sunday, and for whatever the coaches want to do Come down. ”
That attitude can sustain him in the league, but it is the pace that has got him there. Gafford’s 40-yard dash time is listed at 4.27 seconds, although a scout on his college pro day saw him unofficially at 4.19.
“They have one of those things that we can’t call speed,” said general manager Mike Maycock.
Gafford now hopes to reward the attackers for showing confidence in him.
“I am very happy and thankful to have faith in me and give the coach a chance to make the 53-man roster,” he said.