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No local players taken in NFL Draft, but several sign free-agent deals

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    Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad warms up before a game last season. The Keystone grad wasn't picked in the NFL Draft but signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent.

    AP

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LAGRANGE — Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad spent Saturday afternoon hitting approach shots instead of pondering his football future.

The Keystone grad played golf at the Elyria Country Club while the final four rounds of the NFL Draft took place, then signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent.

“It’s amazing,” he said at a gathering of friends and family at The Depot at Union Station. “Just coming where I come from and being one of the very few Division I football players to ever come out of our school, I couldn’t imagine this. It’s been a dream of mine since Day 1 of playing sports and getting the call today was just amazing.”

Conrad actually received many calls after the draft concluded, and he was able to narrow down the list to three finalists.

“The Browns were in the mix, the Redskins were in the mix and I just made the decision that the Giants were the best fit for me,” he said. “Their tight end coach (Lunda Wells) was the coach at the All-Star game I played, and he’s been in contact with me since the beginning of it, even when I went through my tough patch through the combine. Just throughout this deal the relationships are really important to me … and I have a good feeling about our coach.”

Conrad’s chances of being drafted became dicey when he was diagnosed with a potential heart issue and was not allowed to participate in the NFL combine or Kentucky’s pro day. He was finally cleared to compete by sports cardiologist Dr. Aaron Baggish at Mass General in Boston, but the medical matter had already damaged his stock.

“It did, absolutely. I think I get drafted if that didn’t happen,” Conrad said. “But I’ve moved on from that situation and things went really well today. I’m just blessed to be on a team. After that situation, I’m good. I’m happy.”

Despite 15 teams showing interest and coming to watch him work out in Lexington, Ky., after being cleared, Conrad wasn’t about to sit by the phone all Saturday.

“I went golfing with my family and a couple close family friends … a group of guys that always like to get together and have some fun,” Conrad said. “I didn’t want to be stuck by the TV today, so I’m really glad I got to spend it with those guys.”

How’d he shoot?

“All right,” he said with a laugh. “I was a little nervous toward the end. The back nine wasn’t as good as the front nine, I’ll just say that.”

Now the owner of an NFL contract, Conrad’s next goal is sticking around.

“I’m going to head to New York this week, start with the minicamp and compete for a job,” he said.

Conrad will have company in the NFL. 

Oberlin’s Jason Moore, who played at Findlay, will sign with the Chargers, a league source told The Chronicle. He’s a 6-3, 220-pound receiver.

He set Findlay records for career receiving yards (3,125), receptions (195), receiving touchdowns (37) and 100-yard games (17).

Michigan State linebacker Andrew Dowell signed with the Dallas Cowboys after the draft, according to a league source. He’s from North Ridgeville and went to St. Edward High School.

Dowell (6-0, 225) was a three-year starter for the Spartans and had a career-high 97 tackles as a senior. He is a bit undersized for linebacker but can run. He was timed at 4.48 seconds in the 40 at the school’s pro day.

Mercyhurst cornerback Dante Redwood, a Midview grad, is headed to Arizona to join the Cardinals, he tweeted.

Redwood (5-9, 185) ran a 4.44 40 and vertical jumped 40 inches. He joined Conrad and Dowell at the Browns’ local pro day.

Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or sbennett@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him @ShaunBennettct on Twitter. Browns beat writer Scott Petrak contributed to this story.

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