Munchak: ‘It’s an exciting time’

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.

2014 Steelers Training CampMike Munchak – First Round – 1982 – Penn State

“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.”

Draft Primer 2015: Defensive Line

Free agent additions lower need for draft picks, but depth is always important

The NFL draft will be held from April 30 through May 2 in Chicago. The Cardinals addressed several needs in free agency and are now zeroing in on their draft targets. We’ll take a look at each position over the next few weeks.

DPDLMainMore draft analysis: LB I RB I CB I TE

Draft primer: Defensive line

Cardinals under contract: DE Calais Campbell, DE Frostee Rucker; DT Corey Peters; DE Ed Stinson; DE Cory Redding; DE Josh Mauro; DT Alameda Ta’amu
Analysis: The Cardinals beefed up their line in free agency by adding defensive tackle Corey Peters and defensive end Cory Redding, but also lost defensive tackles Darnell Dockett, Dan Williams and Tommy Kelly. General Manager Steve Keim puts a premium on depth at this spot, so the team could add a player in the draft.Defensive tackle seems like the more pressing need. Peters can play nose tackle, but he’s also versatile enough to move around
and adding a player there would give the Cards more flexibility. Alameda Ta’amu is a wild card, as he excelled two seasons ago rotating with Williams at nose tackle but was a non-factor in 2014 as he made his way back from a torn ACL. USC’s Leonard Williams and Washington’s Danny Shelton are projected to be picked before the Cardinals choose at No. 24, but options may include Texas’ Malcom Brown or Florida State’s Eddie Goldman.Calais Campbell will see the majority of time at one defensive end spot, while Frostee Rucker, Ed Stinson, Redding and Josh Mauro should prove capable in a rotation (andKareem Martincould move back if he proves ineffective at outside linebacker). Rucker and Redding are in the back half of their careers, so if the Cardinals want to get younger at the spot, players like Oregon’s Arik Armstead, UCLA’s Owamagbe Odighizuwa or Mississippi State’s Preston Smith could be early options.The Cardinals had many players who shifted between the edge and the interior of the defensive line in 2014, and the current personnel could probably make it work again if needed. Keim won’t need to reach to add a defensive lineman, but also won’t hesitate to pull the trigger if there is one he is excited about.