After spending so many years dreaming about making it to the NFL, it’s tough for Rennie Curran to keep from imagining what it will be like when his name is finally called at this weekend’s NFL draft.
The problem, however, is now that his dream is so close to being fulfilled, those vivid childhood fantasies have been replaced by a vague notion of the future during the frenetic final few days of waiting, when the possible outcomes seem endless.
“It still feels kind of surreal. When I think about it, it just kind of makes my head spin because there’s a million different scenarios,” Curran said. “So it’s just about being in this moment and trying to soak it all in and getting prepared mentally for what’s about to happen.”
Unlike last year, when former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford knew he would be the first overall pick by the Detroit Lions, this year’s crop of draft-eligible Bulldogs must wade through the murky waters of uncertainty — from tonight’s first round coverage through Saturday’s finale — without knowing where they’ll end up.
“It’s a bit of a mystery, but I’ve had a lot of teams calling me the last couple of days,” said safety Reshad Jones, who has had personal workouts with the Dolphins and Jets. “A lot of people are interested. They say they like what they’ve seen, and my average is going up as far as the draft board status.”
Jeff Owens figured he’d already be enjoying the life of an NFL player, but after blowing out his knee in Georgia’s 2008 opener, he spent another season in college proving he was healthy and working his way back up draft boards. He’s had individual workouts with the Dolphins and Patriots and was one of the standout performers at both the Senior Bowl and NFL combine this spring, helping him go from potential late-round pick on Sunday to a likely candidate for an early Saturday selection.
Of course, Owens isn’t taking anything for granted.
“I hope I get drafted, that’s the main thing,” Owens said. “You never know what can happen. You see guys supposed to go in the third round go as free agents, so I just want to get drafted as high as possible and then make an impact.”
Two of Owens’ former teammates on Georgia’s defensive line — Kade Weston and Geno Atkins — are both hoping to hear their names called this weekend as well.
Atkins was a potential first-round pick last season, had he bolted school following his junior campaign. Instead, he stayed at Georgia, and while his stock may not be quite as high, he’s still expected to go in the second or third rounds of this year’s draft.
Weston is one of several former Bulldogs, including wide receiver Michael Moore and cornerback Prince Miller, who are likely on the fringes of the draft and could end up as a free agent.
Weston, Curran and Owens have all been training together in Atlanta in advance of the draft, and amid all the uncertainty, Owens said it’s been a relief to be surrounded by some familiar faces.
“We’re all here for the same purpose,” Owens said. “We all want to play in the NFL, and we’re all trying to accomplish that goal. But it’s better to do it with people that you know, people that care about you, and people that want to see you succeed.”
Along with the former Bulldogs, Curran spent some time working out with some NFL veterans, too.
Justin Griffith and Jon Beason were among the players Curran trained with, and every chance he got, he quizzed them on life in the NFL.
“I think about all the players I played little league ball with, played high school ball with, played college ball with, and how many of us have made it to this point,” Curran said. “You’re like wow, how rare of an opportunity this is.
“You have nothing to complain about, nothing to get nervous about. You just have to be excited and happy that you’ve made it here, and be ready to roll. Because it’s not where I get drafted for me, it’s what I do when I show up and from then on.”