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Kelce, Maclin Recall Draft Memories

Posted Apr 10, 2014

On Wednesday night, the Eagles invited a group of season ticket members to watch an advance screening of the new Kevin Costner movie "Draft Day," which promises to take fans behind the scenes of the NFL Draft from a team perspective.

But before the sneak preview, those Eagles fans were treated to a tour of the NovaCare Complex and an interesting trip back in time with a few Eagles who described what the draft experience was like for them.

First, though, the man who is in charge of the draft for the Eagles, general manager Howie Roseman, addressed the crowd to describe what he and the rest of the personnel department are focused on at the moment.

"Right now, we have all our scouts in," Roseman said. "We're in our draft room having draft meetings, talking about all the players on the board. You know, we work, we start, the day after the draft for next year's draft. Really, all year we're working to pick six, seven, eight names off the board. We're talking about these guys and we're talking about the guys that we want in our building ... There are certain traits we're looking for and every player has a story, because everyone we bring in here has something that we like about them. Every person that we pick on our roster is someone we like at some level to bring them in here.

"We're spending a lot of time going over guys, checking on their workouts, going back over the tape and refreshing because some of these guys we did in September and October and we get more information daily. It's a fun time of year kind of stacking our board and looking through them and getting the coaches involved. I'm really confident in our process that we'll have another great draft."

From the player perspective, three Eagles provided an interesting cross-section of experiences. There was a former first-round pick, a one-time sixth-round pick and even a player who went undrafted as recently as last season.

"Well I wasn't invited to the combine because of my injury and I didn't do my Pro Day either because I was injured, so the process for me was kind of just sitting around, just trying to make sure I looked healthy," said linebacker Travis Long, who was considered a likely mid-round pick before he tore his ACL at the very end of his senior season at Washington State. "I was doing the whole rehab process, so that was my main focus through that whole experience.

"It was tough in the beginning, but I had a goal that I still wanted to play football, so my goal was to get healthy and just kind of let the chips fall where they may."

Center Jason Kelce has worked his way to becoming one of the league's best centers, but he wasn't always so coveted.

"Going into the draft I thought there were really three teams that really valued me high enough to draft me, somewhere in the 4-7th (round) range, and the Eagles were certainly one of them," said Kelce. "I mean I would have liked to go higher, that would have been nicer, but it ended up working out really, really well.

"Leading up to the process, you're always put up in a hotel, you're working out, you're training, you're trying to get ready for the combine, your pro day, meeting with coaches. I would say it's a fun time. It was exciting for me because you're getting ready to go to an environment that is unknown and something you've aspired to do your entire life and then the Draft is really the culmination of all of that emotion is happening in one split second."

For Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles' first-round pick in 2009, the wait wasn't quite as long as Kelce's, but that didn't make it any less stressful.

"I did the whole ESPN thing at the house," Maclin said. "It was a day that I was looking forward to for sure. I thought I wasn't going to be waiting very long and, in reality ,I wasn't. But for when I thought I was going – I definitely thought I was going top 10 – the one thing I can say from that is this has been the best thing that's ever happened to me because this is by far one of the best organizations in the NFL and I couldn't ask to be part of a better organization."

While the day of the draft itself is the focus of the movie, the players had some of the most vivid memories of the pre-draft process – specifically, the NFL Scouting Combine.
"At the combine, when you get there, you have a day when you go see every team's doctor, and I guess there are, I want to say five or six teams in each room, and you lay on this table and each team's doctor gets a chance to pull on you and, say you have a hurt ankle, they get to twist the ankle," Maclin remembered with a smile. "The Ravens are done and now it's the Bills turn. It's a long process. And then on top of that, you have to do X-rays and MRIs, so that was definitely something that stuck out for me."

"I think the whole Combine experience, a lot of people don't know just how tiring it is," Kelce said. "I mean, every single day you're getting up, one day you're getting up at six o'clock to go take a drug test, then the next you're doing physicals or some sort of weight-lifting thing. It's four days of the most activity you've ever done. The bigger (memory) for me was when they make you take all your clothes off and then walk up on stage – I don't know if they even still do that, I think they might have stopped doing that – but you literally walk on stage with a bunch of people staring at you in your underwear."

But as far as Kelce has come in his career – from sixth-round pick to first-year starter to injured reserve and back, earning an Ed Block Courage Award along the way – there is still a special fondness for the moment he officially became an NFL player.

"Well as soon as the number starts ringing, you know it's a different number so you start getting goose bumps," he said. "You pick up the phone, and you're so excited. I can't even remember really what was said for the most part. They kind of just say, ‘Hey, we're going to take you with our next pick.' And then they put me on the phone, I talked to Howie (Roseman) a little bit, I talked to then-offensive line coach Howard Mudd. It's really when you hang up the phone, my dad's sitting in the room and he's crying … Certainly there are a lot of emotions that go through that specific moment."

"Draft Day" opens on April 11.

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