After making it to the National Football League last year as an un-drafted free-agent and then getting cut after training camp, Tarboro native, Shaun Draughn never lost faith. He turned to his higher power, God, and prayed that his journey in the NFL wasn't over. His prayer was answered and the Kansas City Chiefs called him and offered him a spot on the practice squad, which he gladly accepted. Going into the last week of the regular season, Draughn's hard work had paid off and he was activated to the Chiefs 53 man roster and given a three-year contract. He dressed out for their final game of the season and was on special teams.
Then came training camp this year. Even though a player is given a contract, they aren't guaranteed a spot on the roster the next season and Draughn knew that.
He had to continue to work hard during the off-season to stay in shape and then go into training camp this year and work hard to earn a spot on the active roster as a running back.
The Tarboro native, looked up to two five year veteran running backs during training camp, Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis, who helped guide the rookie Draughn through training camp and the pre-season.
Draugh's work continued to pay off for him, as each cut came, he was still part of the Chiefs team. Then came the final cut before the regular season was to begin and Draughn knew if he got a phone call it wasn't going to be good news. So he waited patiently and never received the call so he knew right then his work had paid off tremendously.
"It feels good and it is an accomplishment for me,"Draughn said in a phone interview. "Just to be playing in the league and then to have a role on the team is special to me."
It was a dream come true for Draughn, because growing up in Tarboro, he always wanted to achieve a goal that most people from Edgecombe County don't get to achieve, which is playing a professional sport.
"Just because I am a professional athlete that doesn't change who I am or where I come from," Draughn said. "I get a lot of calls from people back home and they are suprised that I pick up the phone and talk to them. I am going to always appreciate where I came from and be humble."
Draughn waited in anticipation on the final day of the cut, knowing if he didn't get the phone call then that was a plus.
"No news is good news," Draughn said. "I waited and waited and after I didn't hear anything I knew right then I had made the final cut."
In excitement, Draughn contacted his parents and told them the good news, which gave them a joyful feeling knowing their son had worked hard enough to make an NFL roster.
"My mom started crying because she was happy and my dad had the positive feeling that he had knew all along I had made the squad," Draughn said. "They were just proud of me for all the hard work I had put in."
During this same time last year, Draughn had to make the dreaded call to his parents to let them know he had been released from the Washington Redskins organization.
During training camp, Draughn became very close to Charles and Hillis as they guided the young rookie in the right direction.
"I looked up to Jamaal and Peyton because they had experience and were humble guys and we stuck together as a group," Draughn said. "That made it easier for me to get adapted since I had those two veterans to look up too."
Draughn has been a superstar coming up through high school and in college, but during training camp he had to work hard in the back field to make sure he was going to get that spot on the Chiefs team.
Now he has made it, Draughn sits and watches each play of every game just waiting to hear his name called so he can step on the field to help his Chiefs team out in any way possible.
Draughn has been bumped up to the second back on the Chiefs depth chart, but he says that chart doesn't mean anything to the backs on the Chiefs roster.
He said they don't compete against each other to see who is going to start because all of the running backs play as one core group.
Draughn said they don't play against each other for starting spots – they play as a unit.
Draughn is happy that he is playing with one of the top running backs in the NFL in Charles who leads the league in rushing.
"It is a good feeling in itself that I am playing with the best back in the league," Draughn said. "Knowing that it makes me continue to work even harder every day."
Draughn is excited to be in the league, but he is also very excited to be playing for a veteran coach like Romeo Crennel.
"Coach Crennel is an old school guy and is straight forward with everyone," Draughn said. "He knows what it takes to win as a coach."
Draughn said the Chiefs goal is to win a Super Bowl and that their coach knows how to do that because he has been in five.
The Chiefs are excited to have Draughn as part of their organization and so is Crennel.
In a recent interview Crennel said "When Shaun touches the ball he tries to prove that he's good enough and that he is worthy. That makes him a pretty effective runner."
Most of Draughn's playing time early on in the season came on passing plays, but after Hillis went down with an injury Draughn has stepped in and filled the void as Charles' back up and Draughn's work on the field has opened the eyes of the coaching staff in Kansas City.
Now that Draughn has proven himself to the Chiefs coaching staff, he is the go to guy when Charles is tired.
Draugh had 12 carries for 40 yards Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens in a 9-6 loss. He also caught a pass for five yards. But the key to Draughn that is has been the eye opener for fans and coaches around the league is his kick off returns. Draughn has three returns Sunday for 82 yards and his longest return was for 41 yards.
So far this year, Draughn has 34 carries for 159 yards and a touchdown. The carries and yards are second best on the team. He has also caught 11 passes for 100 yards. Draughn's longest run of the season was a 25 yard run. He is averaging 4.7 yards per carry after the fifth week of the season.
He has eight kick off returns that have added up to 195 yards.
"He was good enough as a runner because we saw it last year practicing against the defense," Crennel said. "We saw his quickness and his acceleration and things like that. The fact that he can help on special teams makes him more valuable."
Draughn said that any body trying to accomplish anything for themselves can do it because all they have to do is put their minds to it and it can happen.
He is a prime example because he has come from a small town where a lot of people don't get the chance that he has gotten.