Calijah Kancey was “stressed out” as teams hid their interest in him before 2023 NFL draft

Calijah Kancey went to the Buccaneers with the 19th overall pick in last year’s NFL draft, but until the Bucs called him and told him he was their pick, he was worried.

Kancey says teams hid their interest in him before the draft, leading him to worry that he might not get picked on the first night.

“I didn’t have a feeling at all,” Kancey said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “I mean, I met with the Bucs at the combine, but other than that I hadn’t talked to them. I honestly didn’t know. I asked my agent, ‘Hey man, why doesn’t nobody want to have me in for a [top-]30 visit? Like, what’s going on?’ I was really stressed out. It was hard. I was like, ‘Am I even going in the first round?’”

For as much as fans and the media talk about the draft in the weeks leading up to it, NFL teams are often tight-lipped about their intentions. There’s a player out there right now who’s as worried as Kancey was a year ago, with teams not telling him they plan to draft him because they don’t want another team to find out and move ahead of them.

Kancey says that whoever the Bucs take with the 26th overall pick next Thursday may be feeling the same emotions he was feeling a year ago.

“At No. 26, I don’t know who we get, but that process is very stressful,” Kancey said. “You have to embrace it.”

It’s easier for Kancey to embrace now, with a year in the NFL under his belt.

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