Eli Manning, First Round, San Diego (traded to N.Y. Giants), 2004
“The draft was an exciting time. It’s a little unique. You have no idea where you’re going to be living next year. And you don’t get to choose. It’s not like college where you say, ‘I want to go here.’ You’re just kind of sitting there and saying, ‘All right, I may be moving to Cleveland. I may be moving to New York. I may be moving to California.’ It is an exciting kind of just wait to see where you’ll be pursuing your career and your dream of playing football.
“On my draft day I was just excited. And my draft day was very unique — drafted by the Chargers, traded to the Giants. So it was a whirlwind. Obviously, I was very excited to know that I was coming to New York, and coming to a great organization like the Giants, an organization that’s committed to football and such a great history. I was very honored to be a part of that organization. I knew that I was coming in to work hard and try to become the starting quarterback and do great things for the team.”
Aaron Rodgers (2005)
Aaron Rodgers, First Round, Green Bay, 2005
“It was an emotional day. It was a long day. At the time, I wanted to play right away on that day and prove to the other 22 teams that passed on me that they’d made a mistake. I look at it differently now. This is where I would have wanted to be had I known then what I know now — about the kind of working environment that this is, the opportunities I would be given, the coaching staff that was going to be here. I mean, I interviewed (before the draft) with Mike McCarthy. He was in San Francisco (as offensive coordinator).
“If they (the 49ers) pick me, both our lives are changed. What would have happened had they picked me and things been different? I don’t like doing the whole what-if game. I just know I’m really glad that I fell into God’s Country here in Wisconsin and had the opportunity to spend my early years the way I did and now gotten the opportunity to be the starter and play for this team.”
Jason Witten (2003)
Jason Witten, Third Round, Dallas Cowboys, 2003
“Peyton Manning was a guy I looked up to, sort of a mentor, and the Colts decided to take a different tight end in Dallas Clark. They drafted a tight end and it wasn’t me. There was emotion there. Nobody had told me that I was going to be drafted there, but obviously you’re human and you’re hoping for those things. That was tough. It was like I got hit right in the stomach when they drafted another tight end.
Then, to wrap it up, two hours later, to get the phone call from Jerry Jones and Coach Parcells. That was quite the moment I’ll never forget. There are the highs and the lows and the anxiety of that day. You get that call from Jerry. Everybody knows his voice. He asked me simply, he said, ‘Would you like to put the star on the side of your helmet?’ As a 21-year-old kid, it put chills on my arm. Your family is all watching. My grandad is my high school coach. He’s sitting right there, and he has no clue who I am talking to. I have a five-minute conversation with Jerry. I get off that conversation and get to talk to a Hall of Fame coach in Coach Parcells. I had a 10-minute conversation with him. All the while that’s going on, you see your name going across the ticker there that they selected you. It was a pretty special feeling getting that phone call and something I’ll remember the rest of my life even though it wasn’t a long conversation.”
Christian Ponder (2011)
Christian Ponder, First Round, Minnesota, 2011
“I remember sitting there when Minnesota came up on the clock. And at that point, Jake Locker and Blaine (Gabbert) had already gone. And I remember the clock got down pretty low, like four-and-a-half minutes left. And then Jim, one of the guys who works for (my agent) Jimmy (Sexton), said, ‘If the Vikings were going to pick you, they’d have called by now. So …’ And as he was saying that, our caller ID is set up to come through the television, and everyone’s watching and up came the 612 area code and ‘Minneapolis, Minnesota.’ … I couldn’t tell you what the Vikings said. I was so excited, almost like shaking. ‘Oh my gosh, this just happened.’ … They had tried, apparently, to call my cell phone a couple times and it was going straight to voice mail. I guess I didn’t have service. So thankfully they called the house.”
Jake Long (2008)
Jake Long, First Round, Miami, 2008
“I had signed about five days before, but still it was an amazing dream come true. The draft was something I watched growing up as a kid, and something you dream about doing. To be able to go there and be with my family, get drafted — it’s hard to put into words. When my name was called Commissioner (Roger) Goodell just said congratulations and good luck. He was happy for me. It was definitely a little weird walking out and having all the media and everybody focused on me. But it was fun.”
Marc Mariani (2010)
Marc Mariani, Seventh Round, Tennessee, 2010
“I had been talking (to Brandon Fisher, college teammate and son of Titans coach Jeff Fisher) on the cell phone throughout the day. I got the number from the Titans on my (caller ID) and then they said someone wanted to talk to me. I thought, all right, this is it. I’m excited. Brandon was on the other line and he said ‘I’m just messing with you.’ At that point I was ready to fly down there and whoop his buns. Then he told me it was the real deal and he put me on with (Coach Fisher). At that point I kind of lost it a little bit. It was awesome.”
Vincent Jackson (2005)
Vincent Jackson, Second Round, Northern Colorado, 2005
“I decided to just invite my close friends and family over for a BBQ and enjoy each others company. … When the phone rang about 2 minutes before my name was announced on TV I felt butterflies. There are so many emotions going on. I didn't know I had a chance to play in the NFL until after my Junior year of college. That was the first year I was a full-time starter as wide receiver. My senior year brought a lot of scouts to my games, I got to play in the Senior Bowl, and attend the Combine. There was so much work, so many hours involved in creating an opportunity to get my foot in the door. So when I got the call I was extremely happy and anxious for the next chapter in my life to begin."
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