The No. 1 pick of the 2016 NFL draft will be announced Thursday night. Will it be North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz? The consensus is that Wentz will be the No. 2 pick, not No. 1.
Is that because he isn’t prepared for playing “tougher competition” in the NFL?
A recent essay published by Wentz in The Players' Tribune was focused on how individuals think there is a disadvantage to growing up and playing football in North Dakota. He had a strong rebuttal. Here is an excerpt from his essay:
There’s this belief that I’m at some sort of disadvantage coming into the league because of where I’m from. But if you get to know me, you’ll understand that being from North Dakota isn’t a disadvantage. Not even close. In fact, having been raised in North Dakota is probably one of my greatest strengths.
Let me tell you right now — football is football, no matter if it’s played in the Rose Bowl or on a dusty field in Bismarck. Those warm southern states may produce the most NFL talent, but there’s a special brand of football going on up north.
Wentz said North Dakota football breeds toughness when you jam fingers into ice-cold helmets or get decked on frozen cement-like dirt. Minnesotans can relate to these conditions.
The Players' Tribune published a handful of essays from prospects and current NFL stars leading up to Thursday night’s draft. Among those featured was the Vikings' consensus first-round pick from various mock drafts, Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell.
The 6-2, 221-pounder grew up in a neighborhood where TV and video games weren’t important and he fell in love with football playing the game in the streets late into the night.
The way Treadwell describes his commitment to the game and desire to win is impressive. He sounds like the type of guy Vikings coach Mike Zimmer would like on his team.
Here is an excerpt from his essay:
My senior year, I told myself I was not leaving high school without a state championship. I wanted to go out on top.
And I did. We went undefeated and won the state championship for the first time in school history. I won some individual awards along the way and ended up as the second-leading receiver in Illinois history — and I truly value those honors and accomplishments — but I was playing for the title. All I wanted was that ring.
I didn’t watch TV as a kid, and to this day I still don’t. So the first time I really saw NFL players wasn’t on my television.
It was on the field in the SEC.
Minnesota’s own Larry Fitzgerald offered advice to Wentz, Treadwell and the rest of the 2016 draft class in an open letter to The Players' Tribune.
Fitzgerald, a Minneapolis native and Holy Angels product, was the third overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft. The 6-3, 225-pound wide receiver has matured into a nine-time Pro Bowler and one-time First Team All-Pro.
He reminded the newest draft class to block out criticism, surround oneself with good people to help make wise decisions, and enjoy the moment.
Here are some excerpts from his letter:
You’re going to become an employee of the most popular sports league on the planet. Not a lot of people get their dream job immediately out of college, but you’re one of the lucky few. That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment on its own, and one you can take pride in forever. From this day forward, regardless of what happens next, you will always have the distinction of being drafted to play in the NFL. …
The past few weeks, I’m sure you’ve been reading different things online about your strengths and weaknesses as a player. You’ve spent your whole life playing this game, and people are trying to predict your future based on one drill you ran in a stuffy dome or on one measurement that came up an inch or two below average. I know this is easier said than done, but try to shut that stuff out. …
Just as you should ignore the bad things said about you, it’s just as important not to buy into your own hype either.