Preparing for the Draft: Part 1
This is the first in a series of features leading up to the 2003 NFL Draft. In this series for Huskers.com, former Husker Chris Kelsay will share his thoughts and experiences on preparations for the draft and the NFL Combine, his meetings with NFL coaches, scouts and executives and other events in preparing for the start of his NFL career. In this segment, Kelsay talks about how he has spent his time since the Dec. 27 Independence Bowl and what lies ahead in the next couple weeks.
The next update from Chris will come shortly before the NFL Combine which begins in Indianapolis on Feb. 18 and updates will continue on a bi-weekly basis through the NFL Draft in late April. Kelsay's written accounts will be available on Huskers.com, but to receive exclusive video and a live video chat with Kelsay in coming weeks sign up now for HuskersNSide.com.
Feb. 4, 2003
After the Independence Bowl I spent a little bit of time with my family at the bowl site, then I flew directly from Shreveport to Florida. Since that time I've been training at the IMG Academy in the Bradenton/Sarasota area. IMG is the largest athletic representation group in the world and here at the Academy they train people in several different sports. They have NFL Draft prospects, like myself, prospective pro basketball players, on down to younger kids from wealthy families who are here training for tennis and golf.
The IMG Academy used to be the Bollettieri Academy, which was primarily a tennis academy owned and ran by Nick Bollettieri who is known as the best tennis coach in the world.It is a huge outfit down here. They have condos and villas right on the property and everything is in-house and all the staff is right here.
I'm one of about a dozen players IMG has brought here to work out and help prepare for the draft in April. I'll be down here up until the combine which I leave for on February 19. Our typical days are pretty busy. We do a lot of running from about 8 to 11 in the morning. After lunch we lift from about 1-3:30 and then have individual position drills from about 4 to 5 o'clock in the afternoon.
We don't have much free time. Four days a week, we also do mental conditioning with the sports psychologist here. That's to help us with the mental and intelligence tests at the combine. We go over past tests from the combine and some of the different personality tests that teams have given in the past. The psychologist puts together a videotape and of the interview and critiques it. It is completely different than anything I've done before, but it is important. It is a huge element and ingredient of the whole draft process.
It's a great group of guys I'm down here with. Byron Leftwich (Marshall QB) is probably the biggest name. Jimmy Kennedy, the defensive tackle from Penn State is here, three Florida State guys, Andre Woolfork from Oklahoma, Shane Walton from Notre Dame, Kevin Williams from Oklahoma State and a few other guys. The IMG people are telling us it could be their best group ever. Six or seven of us are projected as possible first-round picks right now. They did a great job of preparing me and everyone else for Senior Bowl week, so being here has already paid off.
I went to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., about three weeks ago. It was a full week down there and to be honest, it wasn't much fun. It was intense and very tiring, but it was something you have to do. For me personally, after my injury situation this year I had to have a good week and build my stock back up. I think I did that. The players would get up about 7:30 a.m. or so and we might not get back to our room until midnight.
There were coaches, general managers, player personnel people, scouts-everyone was there. I think there were about 500 or 600 people at practice every day. Practice was pretty tough, then they put you through personality tests, intelligence tests, hand-eye coordination drills, you name it. A few teams seemed really interested. The Bears GM interviewed me, I talked with the Browns new defensive line coach and the Jets, Giants and Atlanta Falcons all seemed really interested. From what I've been told, the combine is where the interview process with individual teams really picks up.
The Senior Bowl game itself was pretty laid back. It is more for the fans. Most of the NFL coaches and scouts actually leave before the game, so practice is by far the most important thing. Our team came out on top and we played well. Shane Walton intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter and returned it close to 100 yards for a touchdown. I was blocking for him on the return and had a chance to get a good block on Chris Simms. I had him in my sights, but he actually tripped before I got to him. It was a long week, but it was definitely worth it.
For now, it's back to work for a couple weeks until I leave for the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. I'm pleased with where I'm at right now. I've been told I could be picked anywhere from the middle of the first round to the end of the first round. That would be great, but nothing is set yet, so I just have to keep working hard.