2009 NFL Draft Diary, Entry No. 4
Panthers LB Jon Beason offered advice over dinner about NFL life
Visiting Lions facilities consisted of talking to all the coaches
Friends from hometown are visiting me and helping me stay grounded
As a walkup to the NFL draft on April 25, SI.com writer Ted Keith has arranged to get diary entries from Aaron Curry, an All-America linebacker at Wake Forest who is projected to go high in the first round. You can read his first entry here, his second entry here and his third entry here.
After the combine, I was back in North Carolina for a few days. I had a chance to go over to Winston-Salem and visit with some people at Wake Forest. It was my first time back since I graduated in December and, of course, everyone's talking about basketball now. I'm friends with all the guys on the team -- Jeff Teague, Al-Farouq Aminu, James Johnson, all of them. I haven't been able to pay as much attention to the team as I'd like this year, but I plan on catching up.
I also had a chance to have dinner with Jon Beason, a middle linebacker for the Carolina Panthers. He gave me the rundown on what everything will be like in the NFL. He said it will get chaotic and once I enter minicamp it will be even crazier. He also said not to get too stressed out being a rookie. Go in there level-headed, don't try to take over the team or take over the world. Just work hard and learn hard. Get with a veteran to take me through the playbook. Take it just as serious as I took it in college football and high school football. And do that every single day.
That was good advice for when I went to visit the Detroit Lions, who hold the top pick in the draft. It went very well and a lot of the conversations were just regular ones, with them trying to learn what type of person I am and how I would fit in there. I met every coach on the defensive side of the ball and we just talked about how I would fit in, where the franchise was headed. I got to have breakfast with new Lions linebacker, Julian Peterson. He was giving me a lot of advice about how to be successful in the NFL. I also got to talk with another Lions linebacker, Ernie Sims, about how to be professional. I figured if they wanted to draft me, they'd put me between those two Pro Bowl-caliber linebackers and just let me wreak havoc.
I mostly just went from room to room and talked to all the coaches. Then they had me meet with Martin Mayhew, the general manager. He mostly seemed interested in how I was doing with this personally, all the attention of being a possible top pick. He also asked about my body and if I was ready to accept the responsibility of being the overall No. 1 pick in the draft. I told him it was something I'm willing to live up to. There's no pressure for me if they draft me that high. It's still just the same game of football, and I like to play the game of football.
When I met with Gunther Cunningham, the defensive coordinator, he told me that I've got a level head, and that the way I carry myself is a testament to the way my mom raised me. She got a kick out of that when I told her. We speak on the phone all the time; she's the first person I call whenever I get a chance. I'm always on the phone with her. She's like my mom and my manager. She doesn't care where I go play, but she said if I get too far away from her she's going to come out and be near me. Of course, if it was up to her I'd play right back in my hometown of Fayetteville, N.C.
I didn't get to see anything in Detroit. All I got to see was the Lions facilities, the airport, the headquarters for football and the practice field. There was even a big mall behind my hotel, but I didn't get to see any of it. The GM and the coaches were telling me there're nice places to live in Detroit, so I'm not too worried about the city I go to. I just want to play the game.
The next teams on my list of visits are the Seattle Seahawks on the 30th, the Cincinnati Bengals on April 1st, and the St. Louis Rams on the 15th. I don't know what those teams are going to do. In fact, I don't know what any teams are going to do in the draft. Nobody knows until they hear their name called. The coaches in Detroit told me they don't even know who's going to get drafted. They told me they'd like to have me there but they also wanted me to know they're not the ones making the decision.
I've been back in Arizona working out at Athlete Performance Institute, trying to get ready for my pro day at Wake Forest on March 23. Two of my best friends have been out here with me for a couple weeks, Jonathan Patterson and John Fuller. I couldn't go home to Fayetteville, so they brought Fayetteville to me. They tell me not to get a big head and not to pay attention to any of the pre-draft hype. I feel like I'm still in high school trying to find a place in the world. They always tell me I haven't shown them anything yet and that the NFL would just be me getting started.
We've mostly been playing video games on PlayStation 3, like Call of Duty, NBA 2K9, NHL 2K9 and, especially, Madden. I created myself and put myself at free safety, so that way I could do what I want and go around and make the tackles I want. Not that I have any interest in playing safety in the NFL, but it's fun for a video game. I put myself on my hometown team, the Carolina Panthers. I know Jamila, my girlfriend, would love it if I wound up with them so I could be back in Charlotte, but that's probably not going to happen since they don't have a first-round pick, and that's fine. I'll go wherever I need to go.
I'm anxious to find out where that will be. The word is the week before the draft is a dead period when teams stop contacting players. By then, I'll be ready to just lay on my mom's couch and relax.
Have a question you want to ask Aaron? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. He will answer select inquiries in an upcoming column.
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