Former TCU defensive end Stansly Maponga watched as 17 defensive ends were selected in the 2013 NFL Draft.He was still waiting deep into the fifth round Saturday, the drafts final day, when the Atlanta Falcons finally selected Maponga as the 153rd pick overall, 20th in the fifth round.The Falcons traded one of their four seventh-round picks to the Chicago Bears to move up to get Maponga. Former TCU receiver Josh Boyce was selected by New England in the fourth round.Maponga, who left TCU early after three all-conference seasons, was elated. But he also took the relatively low draft selection as a point of reference for the future.A lot of things went through my head, Maponga told the Falcons. This is just a blessing. Im ready to prove people wrong. God is good. To go through what Ive been through, Im so blessed right now I dont know what to say.An injury to the fifth metatarsal on his left foot, which caused him to miss two games in 2012, likely led to some draft apprehension by NFL teams.I know everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for me and I just stuck with that, said Maponga, who attended Lewisville Hebron High School. Sometimes youd be down and thinking, Man, if I had done this, things would have been better. Just thinking about that type of stuff. I just had to keep faith, stay focused, and continue to work hard no matter what.Maponga had a good feeling when he visited Atlanta last month.I felt like I was at home, like this is where I was going to be for my career, he said. It just felt right. In the back of my head I knew I was probably going to end up being with the Falcons.At 6-foot-2, 256 pounds, Maponga says NFL scouts have undervalued his abilities. His injury is healing fast. He has another checkup Monday to see how far it has progressed.People think just because Im undersized I cant do most of the stuff the 6-4, 6-5 athletes do, said Maponga, whose draft grade according to NFL.com was a 68, 30th among defensive linemen. Theyve got their scores wrong. Im ready to bring strength, power, speed and everything. I believe. I know that Im the best defensive end in this draft. But for me to prove that, Im just going to let my game speak for itself. Ill be doing treatment and do what I need to do to come back 10 times better. I believe I will come back stronger than ever and ready.Boyce will join two former TCU teammates in New England. The Patriots selected him as the fifth pick in the fourth round (102nd overall) Saturday. Hell join Marcus Cannon and Malcolm Williams, who were drafted by New England in 2011.Yes, Im excited just to be a part of an NFL team, but its great talking about [playing with] a great quarterback like Tom Brady, Boyce said.Other potential TCU draftees will have to go the free agent route. Inside linebacker Kenny Cain, offensive guard Blaize Foltz and running back Matthew Tucker went undrafted.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs