Tannehill: It Felt Like An Eternity

Posted Apr 25, 2013

Last year’s first-round pick and others reflect on draft experience.

There is a never ending amount of conjecture leading up to the NFL Draft about what goes on inside the draft rooms that it’s easy to forget what the actual prospects are going through.

From the moment the final whistle blows in that last game of the college football season, those players projected to be selected in the seven rounds over the next three days will have experienced the ultimate roller-coaster ride. Some have played in all-star games before joining the others that have been poked and prodded at the NFL Scouting Combine and again at their pro days and official visits.

The number of prospects invited to New York City to be on site inside Radio City Music Hall when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reads their names off of cards has grown in recent years. This time around the league brought in 24 of the top prospects to participate in some pre-scheduled events starting yesterday and then tonight they will take their places inside the infamous Green Room backstage. It’s there where they are at the mercy of the 32 teams picking.

“I don’t remember how long it was, maybe an hour-and-a-half before I got picked or whatever it was and it felt like an eternity,” said Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was taken eighth overall in the first round of last year’s draft. “The clock is ticking by and you look down and it’s only been five minutes. It was definitely a slow wait.”

Since Tannehill did make the trip from his home state of Texas, he didn’t have much time after he arrived to over-think the process.

“I was excited,” he said. “I didn’t really know what was going to happen but in New York they keep you busy. You’re going from one event to the next so you don’t have time to think about too much.”

Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin was not among the 26 players in the Big Apple last April, although two of his Stanford teammates were – quarterback Andrew Luck and tight end Coby Fleener. Nevertheless, he was experiencing the same emotions before hearing his name called in the second round as the 42nd overall pick.

“You’re definitely pretty nervous,” Martin said. "You put so much preparation into the draft, the Combine and team visits and you really have no idea what’s going to happen on Draft Day. So it’s definitely nerve-racking, but once you finally hear your name called and get the phone call from the GM it’s definitely a really good feeling.”

Defensive tackle Paul Soliai had no idea what was in store for him prior to the 2007 draft after he finished up his career at Utah. He had all of the measurables in terms of his size and ability, but his patience was tested until Miami picked him in the fourth round (108th overall).

“It was hard. I wasn’t expecting to get drafted,” Soliai said. “I thought that because I didn’t play four years on the d-line I wouldn’t be drafted, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. I was just hoping I would get another opportunity, so when I was drafted by the Dolphins I felt blessed.”

Three years later, another former Ute, linebacker Koa Misi, found his way down to South Florida as the 40th overall pick in the second round of the 2010 draft. The soft-spoken Californian remembers almost every detail about that day.

“I was in Utah and a bunch of family flew out there. We had a lot of people together at a hotel in one of their big rooms,” Misi said. “We were just watching the draft on TV and I think my dad got the phone call, and everybody was screaming when they heard my name on the TV so I couldn’t really hear what they were saying on the phone. I didn’t know who I was talking to, but the feelings you get from hearing your name on TV is crazy. I don’t know how to explain the feeling, but it was a good feeling.”

Sometimes the players find out the news about where they are headed before that team can deliver the news. That was the case with Pro Bowl left guard Richie Incognito back in 2005 when the St. Louis Rams tabbed him in the third round with the 81st overall pick out of Nebraska.

“My call came after I had seen my name come across the television screen,” said Incognito, who also played for the Buffalo Bills before signing with the Dolphins in March of 2009. “My agent texted me and told me St. Louis was going to select me and then I saw my name on the screen and then I got a call from the head coach, Mike Martz. It was exciting. It was a new chapter in my life and it was a really cool day that I spent with my family and friends.”

With so much time to pass between 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday night at 6 p.m., when the final pick – Mr. Irrelevent – is announced, there is no shortage of funny stories that will develop. Some players grow paranoid about missing that all-important call and take extreme measures to make sure they are present, while others don’t want to be bothered with the crowd of friends and family hovering over the television.

“I went back home to L.A. and watched with my family,” said cornerback Richard Marshall, who was selected in the second round of the 2006 draft by the Carolina Panthers with the 58th overall pick. “I already knew I was going to go in the second or third round, so to tell you the truth I didn’t even watch the first round. I went to get my car washed. I came back and got drafted in the second round. It felt good just getting that call that I was going to a team and the waiting process was over with.”

“I was sitting at home and I had a bunch of family members and friends come over. All I had heard is that I could go anywhere from four to wherever,” said tight end Charles Clay, who was chosen in the sixth round (174th overall) out of Tulsa. “From that point on, I pretty much watched the whole thing. I played in the Senior Bowl, so I knew a lot of the guys being drafted early. I got to the point where I was like, ‘I probably won’t even be drafted.’ So I took my dog outside and, sure enough, as soon as I took him out, I get the call and I came upstairs and my mom jumped up out of her bed and started screaming. It was fun. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Neither will the Class of 2013.
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