Ronnie Rivers spent the NFL draft in Brentwood, California with his family and girlfriend, waiting for his phone to ring.
After leaving Fresno State as the record holder in several categories, Rivers expected to be drafted, even if it was most likely going to be on Day 3. But the moment never happened.
"There was a disappointment and frustration," Rivers said. "But you look past that and find positives in the situation because not everyone gets a chance. There are guys I know that didn't even get an opportunity to attend camp. God has a different plan for everyone."
Following the draft, his agent fielded several offers to attend minicamp as an undrafted free agent. Rivers picked the Cardinals over the Bills and Steelers, feeling the NFC West presented the best opportunity in addition to being closer to home.
Although Rivers' draft dreams went unfulfilled, he knows there have been plenty of undrafted running backs with successful careers. Arian Foster starred with the Texans. Priest Homes was a prime example with the Chiefs. They combined for seven Pro Bowl nods during their respective careers.
Besides, Rivers can just walk into his parents' house to find another good example.
Rivers' father, Ron, was an undrafted running back and went on to play for the Lions and Falcons.
"He emphasized it's not how you start, it's how you finish," Rivers said. "It's about whoever can stay the longest in the league."
Rivers had enjoyed his time in the desert. Off the field, he chuckles about the intense heat, not seeing a single cloud or feeling any wind during his first three weeks in Arizona. He has embraced the energy around the team and admires the organization. Rivers has learned much from starting running back James Conner, who constantly offers Rivers advice.
The fight for a roster spot figures to be difficult. The running back room includes Conner, Darrel Williams, Eno Benjamin, and Jonathan Ward. There is also fellow undrafted rookie T.J. Pledger. On a team that usually keeps four running backs, the number is daunting, but Rivers understands his uphill battle to ascend the depth chart with training camp approaching.
The plan is to take his father's advice into camp and make a name for himself. The perfect scenario is to remain with the Cardinals, but he understands that's not a guarantee. Whatever happens, Rivers is determined to add his name to the list of successful undrafted free agent running backs and one-up his dad.
"I've always wanted to play longer than my dad," Rivers said. "He played eight years, so my goal is to play longer than him."
Images from the Cardinals' annual "media day" on Monday