This is a very important weekend around the National Football League. The foundation of any successful team is laid in the NFL Draft. Front office personnel spend their entire year preparing for the draft and free-agent signings that follow.
“There’s quite a difference between the 12,000 or so seniors you start out with, 850 or so you get when you’re in meetings in the spring and you whittle those down to 300 or 400, and then you whittle it down to six. You shouldn’t make any mistakes, right?” said General Manager Ryan Grigson last week during his pre-draft media availability.
Every NFL player has a story about their draft weekend. Some, like Andrew Luck, have fond memories. “I think it’s a great opportunity just to go to New York and take part, I guess, in the pageantry of it all. It is a bit of a circus. It is a bit of a tiring sort of ordeal. That’s a minor complaint I guess,” said Luck Wednesday during a break from the Colts off-season workout program.
Luck referenced the fact he already had been informed about the Colts plans to select him with the first pick as a big reason there was less anxiety. However, many of the other members of the 2012 Colts draft class recall waiting on pins and needles for their phone to ring.
“When I got drafted, it was a weight lifted off my shoulders. To me, it was the first step to becoming a professional football player. In no way, shape or form did I think I was in good because I was the last pick of the fifth round. I was just hoping to come in and make the team,” said running back Vick Ballard.
While Ballard was initially disappointed with falling to the 5th round, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton recalls being thrilled about the Colts moving up to grab him in the 3rd. “Can’t eat, can’t sleep. You’re waiting for your name to be called. When you finally get that call and they tell you their (Colts) trading up for you, you feel relieved and you feel like its a blessing,” said Hilton.
Regardless of where a player is picked, he still has to earn a spot on the team. The draft is an important part of the team-building process, but the way the players react to their new-found professional fortune is what determines success or failure in the NFL.
“It was nice to have Andrew (Luck) and Griff (Whalen) and the guys that I went to school (Stanford) with here to kind of ease that transition as a rookie, but now its kind of trying to build on last year, and for guys coming into the league its a whole new experience. Now having that one year of experience under my belt, its going to be helpful I think,” said tight end Coby Fleener.
The Colts are slated to pick 24th in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Barring trades, they will have six selections in the seven-round draft that concludes Saturday.