After seeing three safeties selected on the first night, he stopped watching. On the second night, another six safeties — some with less impressive résumés than his — came off the board. Rambo became resigned to the fact he might not get drafted.
His phone rang on Day 3 of the draft, but it was a team calling to gauge his interest in signing as an undrafted free agent later that night.
“I was like, ‘I know I’ve got way better talent than to be an undrafted free agent,’ ” Rambo recalled. “Just seeing those guys go in front of me and knowing in my mind that they weren’t better than me, it kind of had me down. So I just put it in God’s hands.”
One hundred and ninety players — 17 of them safeties — came off the board before Rambo’s phone rang — waking him from a nap — and Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan informed him that Washington had taken him in the sixth round.
Rambo acknowledged that two drug-related suspensions in college likely caused him to drop. But he didn’t fret over it.
“I can’t go back and change anything,” he told himself. “God works in mysterious ways.”
“He was very positive about it,” said Rambo’s best friend, Jarvis Jones, a pass rusher taken 17th overall by the Steelers. “He looked at it as just another test for him.”
Learning from mistakes
Rambo grew up in Donalsonville, Ga., a small town where, as he put it, “everything was a struggle. You had to work for everything — not people giving me stuff.”
Athleticism came naturally for Rambo, however, and he starred as a quarterback at Seminole County High School, earning Class A all-state honorable mention as a senior.
“He was electrifying in high school,” said former Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels, who married Rambo’s cousin and hosted a teenage Rambo for a summer in Chicago. “He could pass, run, did it all. . . . He was something.”
Rambo got to Georgia, and its coaches immediately put him at safety. Another test.
He understood some coverages, having read them as a passer, but he hadn’t played a lot of defense. He had to adjust quickly to reading quarterbacks and receivers, as well as tackling. But by Rambo’s third season on defense, things began to click.
“Things happened a little quicker. He was putting himself in better positions. He started making big plays,” said Scott Lakatos, Georgia’s secondary coach.
Things didn’t proceed without a hitch that 2011 season, though.
Georgia suspended Rambo for the season opener after police stopped him for speeding and found a joint in a passenger’s purse.
Rambo recorded interceptions in each of his first two games upon returning. Then he got hit with one of the toughest tests of his life.