Every April, 253 college football players get a phone call to let them know they’ve been drafted by a professional football team to play in the NFL.
Some are picked early with guaranteed playing time and contracts while others have to wait it out to the end.
Evan Junior Rodriguez went somewhere in the middle.
The most prominent Latino drafted, Rodriguez was expected by ESPN analysts to go in the 6th round.
Instead the historic Chicago Bears selected Rodriguez in the 4th round, meaning more money and a better chance of playing time for the team.
What follows is Evan Rodriguez’s experience after getting drafted and a taste of what it’s like to be an NFL Draft pick.
The past few days are like a dream come true. When I got that call from Lovie Smith (Chicago Bears head coach) and he said they had picked me, wow, I just felt this was a great team with a long history of tough football players. Chicago is a blue collar town and that is my game, I go to work and it's all business on the field. I think I'll fit into the city and team really well. I started thinking of those names like Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Devin Hester and Brian Urlacher, [all historic Bears players] and it's crazy.
I am so excited to get to Chicago and see Soldier Field and meet the guys. I heard great things about the city in general, the Latino community is hopping, I know I'm going love it.
After my name was called at the draft I just celebrated pretty quietly with family because I wanted it to be low key, I was nervous to just get it behind me. I would say there was a little sadness that my grandmother wasn't there to celebrate, but I know she was watching from above and that made me smile. Then my friends from North Bergen started coming in waves, champagne for everyone, it was memorable!
Saturday night we had a lot of people at my Draft party in NYC that my agent Ed Wasielewski helped set up and it seemed like hundreds of people were there. I was getting shout-outs all over, so it was just so great to relax a little bit after this long process. Someone asked me what the party was like and all I could say was "epic." I thanked Ed and his team for making the night so special.
To be honest it hasn't all hit me yet. I have a call today with my position coach Mike Debord so it's turning serious right away, it's business now. I've had a lot of fun on the weekend, blew off some steam, but I need to match my excitement with effort now and show the staff, teammates and fans that they made the right choice. I am not going to disappoint the city.
I want to stay the same person, because I'm a humble guy, and I want to enjoy this all even though it is overwhelming right now. I'm hitting Joe DeFranco's Gym for another serious workout right after speaking with my coach. Joe and Mike Gough at Athletic Edge Sports in Florida have got me in great shape. I do well when I am in a structured routine, and that is what I'm headed back to now.
I’d like to shout out to my Boricuas and let them know I'm looking forward to representing them in the League."