The Real World

The past few years in the draft have been thin and wary for teams looking for a running back. How quick things can change with a graduating class, as this year’s crop is loaded. There are some real gems that will make immediate impacts with teams. With the depth of the running backs, it’ll let team scouts really dig in and do their job. This is the type of draft, where a guy drafted in the fourth or fifth round could end up having first round value down the road.

Auburn deserves huge props for the backfield they were able to recruit, with Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams. The two displayed a dynamic duo that was unprecedented in college football, and probably won’t ever be duplicated for some time. Both had 1,000 yard seasons and double digit touchdowns, and neither was obviously stoppable. That was a year ago, and the past is over, and both athletes have been given comparisons to top backs in the NFL. With both likely being picked in the top five of the draft, it’s time to get ready for the stage.

Everyone knows that the NFL can be a lonely road for a rookie, because of the adjustment from college life. No longer are there the same teammates you’ve been playing and living with the past few years. You’re on your own in a new city, left unguarded to roam and make adult decisions. Most professional athletes treat their job solely as a job, and the buddy-buddy teammate label is gone. Once you acquaint with a few teammates, it turns into flashback days of elementary and middle school. The teammates vanish either by being cut or traded, just like in school days when parents would pack up and move.

The same core of coaches you’re use to having in college is also thrown out. Unless you land on a team with a coach like Bill Cowher, there is no room to get accustomed to a coach or an assistant for that matter.

A rookie will also have their own specific coach, who’ll put them through an array of rigorous boot camp drills all summer long (Beyond college drills). It’s a strenuous avenue, but every individual coach likes to push the new guys to the limit, and see what they’re made of. Does this kid have a bad attitude now that he has made millions, or does he have that burn inside of him to be a great athlete? That’s what they are looking at from the second a rookie puts on that actual uniform.

The acting or gimmick that an athlete may have used to sell himself to a team, has worked in the past with prior athletes. With the way teams work contracts though, a professional franchise could give a squat on a bust. It’s like a shrug of the shoulders to them, you win some and you lose some. The influx of athletes is only getting better, as the field is expanding with talent.

So the devoted attention that Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams is probably affecting them for the time being. Any person that is garnering sudden massive attention would be a liar if they aren’t soaking it in. Heck, an athlete with a chance of being picked in the sixth or seventh round is probably hyped. As soon as the draft day rolls around though, the fun and games is over.

They’re men physically, but intellectually they’re still in a primitive mind frame. They’ve heard what life is like in the NFL, but now they’ll be living it. Reality will set in, and mini and training camps will be roaring. They’ll soon find out how minimal job security is in the NFL. The competition is unreal, as new hungry athletes are brought in constantly to do what every team is to do, and that’s find the missing pieces to the puzzle.

On draft day, many athletes will think their future careers are set in stone. First round picks mean absolutely nothing, just ask Freddie Mitchell. Mitchell was the 20th pick in 2001, yet still never solidified anything except the ability to be a garbage talker that couldn’t back up his statements. It’s called being big headed, and that’s what happens to a lot of athletes with money and a lost will and continual love for the game.


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