Offensive line coach Mike Munchak shares his draft day story.
Leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, Steelers players and coaches will be sharing their Draft Day Memories, from the time they went to the NFL Scouting Combine, through the moment they were drafted. And in some cases players will share what it was like when neither of those things happened. In this installment, Mike Munchak shares his story.
“I remember being very nervous, but excited at the same time for the combine. I was not sure what was about to happen. Back then there were three of them, three different locations where you did the same thing. That made it more interesting. We didn’t know what the tests were going to be until you got there, other than the physicals and stuff. It made you more nervous, but it gave you three chances to do a good job.
“You get a chance as a player to see who the other players are in the country that everyone is excited about. I was able to see the guys I heard about. There wasn’t as much information on television, didn’t have the internet, so that information wasn’t available. It was interesting to meet the other players who were going through the same thing and they felt the same way you did. It was a great experience and I felt a lot more confident after going through the whole process.
“The three combines were shorter. One day was in and out, one day in Detroit. Eight of us from Penn State went to that one and were in and out quickly. The longest was two days. Everything happened real fast and you had to learn on the spot what they were going to ask of you.
“The contact with the teams was a lot more limited then. We didn’t make visits, we didn’t go out to other teams like they have the visits now. At the combine you didn’t have the meetings you have now with the coaching staffs. There was a lot less information available then.
“There were different magazines and publications that would come out with their predictions of where people would go in the first and second rounds. I got numerous phone calls from friends, my sisters, different things people heard about it. But until the draft happened you didn’t know what was going to happen. Teams would call you and you would think they were interested, but you weren’t sure. I kept hearing where I could possibly go, this part of the first or second round. You can’t control any of it. Your resume is your college highlight film.
“I was in State College at the time of the draft, still taking classes at Penn State. The draft was on a Tuesday, only the third or fourth year on ESPN. My girlfriend Marci, now my wife, was with me and the two of us watched it. It started early in the morning. We were just thrilled it was on television and we could watch it. We watched it to see what happened.
“The interesting part was I knew the first five or six picks, I wasn’t going to any of those teams. Once it got to the seventh pick in the first round I started hearing teams that were interested and might take an offensive lineman. You start paying attention more then. I figured I could go anywhere from there to the second round. I remember when Houston was picking, they said the Houston Oilers are on the clock. I know they had some needs, they had mentioned an offensive lineman but I thought chances are they won’t pick me. I was sitting there and our phone was ringing. We looked at each other and thought no way. I picked up the phone and it was the head coach of the Houston Oilers. As he was talking to me, Pete Rozelle was on television announcing the pick so I could listen to it. It was within seconds of each other. A lot was happening in that moment. It’s an exciting time.
“At first when you hear your name, you wonder did he say my name, did he really say that. You have been waiting this whole offseason for that moment and you have no control over what is going to happen and who is going to take you. The first thing I thought about was Earl Campbell and I am going to block for him. Then the phone starts ringing nonstop. You didn’t have a cell phone so you only had one line and it was hard for everyone to get through.
“As far as the call from the Oilers, they told me they were happy to have me and thought I could be with the organization for a long time. They said they expectations were high I could come in and help them, especially run the football. It was more or less getting the details.
“After all of that you can finally relax a little bit. You take a deep breath and now I am on to the next level, the next opportunity, and fulfilling the dream of playing in the NFL. I was enjoying what I was able to accomplish with all of my teammates and coaches. I stayed in town and a lot of my teammates were drafted that day. We were able to all get together and relive what we have been through. We all went to dinner that night and the next day headed out to the teams we got drafted by.”