Thornton: 'The nerves are setting in'
John Thornton visited the CNN/SI chat channel on April 16, 1999, one day before the 1999 NFL Draft. John Thornton is a top prospect at defensive tackle out of the University of West Virginia. He fielded questions about where he might be drafted and what he thinks of other players in this year's draft.
CNNSI_Host : Welcome all to a chat with NFL Draft prospect John Thornton. Ask your question and please be patient for a response. We will begin with a few questions submitted via our mailbag.
CNNSI_Host: Bill Belenkechef asks: Do you feel you are worthy of a first round selection? And if so how early?
John Thornton : I definitely feel I'm worthy of a first round selection. I don't think there are that many defensive linemen that are better than me. As far as how early -- I'm not sure. Probably late first round.
CNNSI_Host: Craig Iverson asks: Would you like to play with the Minnesota Vikings?
John Thornton : I would love to play for the Vikings. I like their aggressive style of defense. We ran the same style of defense in college. I think they could contend for the Super Bowl again with the team they have coming back.
CNNSI_Host: Todd asks: John, if you could choose any place to play where would that be?
John Thornton : I wouldn't have any particular choice. The team that drafts me is the team that likes me the most. I don't have a particular place I'd like to play.
CNNSI_Host: Brian Hawley asks: Hey John, thanks for the great years at West Virginia. Do you feel that playing in a pro style defense in college has better prepared you for the NFL?
John Thornton : Yes I do. We're proud of our defense here. I'm used to playing a 3-4 defense. It's very similar and I've been very successful in that style of play.
CNNSI_Host: Are you friends with Amos Zereoue -- and what do you think about possibly getting picked ahead of him?
John Thornton : We are great friends. He's at my house right now, actually. I'm not much concerned with who gets picked first, I know we'll be picked around the same area. He's a great player.
CNNSI_Host: Ken Baber asks: Do you feel that you would be a good fit with the Steelers or Jags?
John Thornton : Both actually. The Jags are going to change their defense now. I would definitely fit in with the Steelers because they play our same style of defense as in college. But I also think I would fit in real great playing for Tom Coughlin at Jacksonville.
CNNSI_Host: Agents play a big role in the draft -- What did you tell your agent to do to get picked in the best position?
John Thornton : They don't play as big a role as people think. The teams figure out who they think can play.
CNNSI_Host: Steve asks: What would think of playing with New England?
John Thornton : I have a friend who plays there -- Ty Law. He said he would love to play with me and I would love to play with him. They had trouble winning because of injuries but if they're healthy I think they have a great chance of contending.
CNNSI_Host: Any defensive tackles in the NFL that you like to watch and follow the styles of?
John Thornton : Luther Ellis of the Detroit Lions. He's probably one of my favorite players. He's real strong, and he's an impact player. He doesn't make every play, but he makes an impact on every play where he makes a tackle.
CNNSI_Host: Guest74379 asks: What does it feel like to know that your going to be a future millionaire and pro football player?
John Thornton : I definitely don't feel like that right now. The nerves are setting in -- and I can't wait for my name to be called -- find out where I'm going and how much I'm gonna get paid. But I definitely don't feel like a millionaire yet.
CNNSI_Host: I read that there are a lot of dumb questions that you are asked from NFL teams, what are some that you found to be utterly useless?
John Thornton : The Giants asked what was the difference between a skirt and a dress. That's probably the dumbest one.
CNNSI_Host: Do you have any friends in the NFL? If so, have they given any advice concerning life as a professional NFL player?
John Thornton : All they really said is "stay yourself." Don't let money change you -- that's probably the biggest thing. Other than that, they just say keep working hard.
CNNSI_Host: Guest93446 asks: How would you rate your play over your senior year?
John Thornton : I think I was strong my senior year. If I had to give myself a grade, it would probably be an "A." I got hurt the last few games but I played pretty well before that.
CNNSI_Host: If you could not play football -- what other sports would you play
John Thornton : Basketball. I thought about playing basketball in college. Probably baseball too.
CNNSI_Host: Guest93446 asks: Who was the best player you have played against in college?
John Thornton : Donovan McNabb. He's by far the best player I ever played against. We couldn't tackle him for three years. My senior year I finally sacked him.
CNNSI_Host: If you had the Browns' pick who would you pick -- and you cannot pick yourself ?
John Thornton : If I had the Browns pick, I would probably take Ricky Williams. He's the safest one. You don't know which of the quarterbacks are going to pan out.
CNNSI_Host: Guest93446 asks: You engaged in a war of words with one of my favorite players -- Rob Murphy. How would you rate Rob Murphy as a player?
John Thornton : Rob is OK. He needs to stay on his feet a little more. He was a big guard. I didn't really go against him that much. But absolutely he'll be a first round pick next year.
CNNSI_Host: Guest64642 asks: Including yourself, how many WVU players do you think will get drafted?
John Thornton : I would say about seven. People down here expect 10. I don't see that happening. I'd think five of us will get picked the first day, maybe two or three the next day.
John Thornton : Thank you for your questions and wish me luck in the draft tomorrow!
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