My NFL Draft Experience: John Gerak Talks Being Drafted by the Minnesota Vikings
For NFL fans around the globe, the NFL Draft has become a year-round spectacle. Media coverage has expanded to putting out mock drafts during the current NFL season, websites have popped up allowing fans to try and guess who will go where and NFL Draft pundits now spend months and months building up and tearing down young men looking to take the first step in their professional careers.
For the players, the NFL Draft is the start of something special. All of the hard work and training they have been putting in since the first time they strapped on a helmet in pee-wee football is finally paying off. Their dream of playing football at the NFL level is about to come true, they just need to be drafted first.
There is so much that goes on for players leading up to the NFL Draft that fans do not know about. Anxiety about where they are going to get drafted, happiness and celebration with family members and for some, even disappointment when their name is not called when the draft comes to a close.
Because of this, the VIKTRE Career Network wanted to give fans a behind the scenes look at what goes through the minds of NFL players in a series called “My NFL Draft Experience.” We have lined up a number of former NFL players, ranging from former first-round draft picks to undrafted players, and will be interviewing them leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft.
In our third interview of the series, we interviewed former offensive lineman, John Gerak.
Gerak, the No. 57 pick in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings out of Penn State, would go on to play four seasons with the Vikings and one season with the St. Louis Rams. He would start 35 of the 63 games he played in his career.
Since leaving the NFL, Gerak has transitioned to a career in Law with Ogletree Deakins in Cleveland. Last year, we interviewed Gerak about his transition here on the VIKTRE Career Network. Now, let’s learn more about his experience in the 1993 NFL Draft!
What was the NFL Draft experience like for you? Did you attend the draft, have a party with friends and family or do something else?
I was slated to be picked in the second or third round. Before cell phones were prominent and before call waiting and caller-ID, and when ESPN only televised two rounds of the NFL Draft, I sat with my family awaiting my name to be called. My friends, who were watching ESPN and waiting for my name to be called as well, kept calling and asking if I’d been drafted. I politely reminded them that ESPN was live television, and quickly got off the phone. After the second round ended, I asked everyone to leave. As the cars pulled out of the drive, the phone rang, and it was Dennis Green. I was the first pick after the draft went off the air. My family and friends returned shortly thereafter.
Once you were drafted, did you set any goals for yourself in year one? Did you target a specific person on the depth chart to try and beat out for the job?
My goal always was to start. I wasn’t fully prepared for the jump in size and speed, and the pounding training camp, preseason and a 16-game season took on your body and the emotional drain of being a professional athlete, including reading negative articles on a regular basis.
What did you learn from your NFL Draft experience that helped you when transitioning to a career after football?
There is no substitute for preparation and hard work.