Leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft, current and former Steelers’ players will be sharing their Draft Day Memories, starting from the time they went to the NFL Scouting Combine, through the moment they were drafted. In this installment, former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter, the team’s third-round pick in 1999 out of Colorado State, shares his memories.
For me the combine was more about wanting to go against all of the guys rated above me. I was fired up about that. I was going there for a chance to show all of the guys that were projected to go number one that I was faster, stronger and more agile than all of them. I was fired up about going there and doing that.
You are excited and nervous at the same time. You are more excited than nervous, though. I was excited to go out there and have these coaches take a chance and look at me and try to up my draft stock. I knew what I was going there for. It was a business trip. I was excited.
The combine wasn’t like it is now. They didn’t have all of the stuff they have now, all of the personal questions, the way they monitor your Facebook and Twitter accounts. When I went to the combine it was asking some personal questions and about off the field things, but that’s about as far as it went. They mainly asked you football questions to find out if you knew how to play football or if you were just playing football. They wanted to know if you understood the X’s and O’s of the game. That is what the combine was back then. Now it’s turned into a full blown interrogation and investigation. They ask what your mom did, about your bother, your brother’s friend. They go so far back in your background now.
I remember being interviewed by Pittsburgh. It was more about what I was asked to do at my position when I was in college. It was all football. That is all it was.
I worked out at my pro day. I ran a 4.4, did the bench about 36-37 times and my vertical was 38 inches. I tested well so I was happy.
I think there is more pressure at the combine than the pro day because it is first. You want to compete against whoever the best is. You want to run those 40-yard dashes right, especially now they televise the combine. Everybody’s pro day isn’t televised. The combine, everything is out there now. Everyone is at the combine, your pro day it just might be one guy that comes and looks at you.
I honestly thought it was going to be Dallas that drafted me. They had given me some Cowboys shirts and hats, took the family out to eat. They told my brother they were going to draft me in the second round. I remember being all excited about it and then they took Solomon Page from West Virginia. It wasn’t the worst thing that happened to me because anywhere on the first day was a plus for me. but having the opportunity to think I was going in the second round, with how I did in the combine, and Mel Kiper had me on the board I was excited about that.
I will never forget it. We played Dallas in a preseason game and I got a chance to sack Troy Aikman and made him fumble. I remember looking at the coaches on the sideline and being fired up pointing, looking at them, thinking you could have had me but you didn’t. You always get excited about going against a team that passed on you. It’s always added motivation.
I remember being in a room by myself when the Steelers were ready to pick. My phone was ringing all day before that and it was supposed to only be for the phone call. But people were calling all day checking on me. I got some calls early in the draft, but when my name started to get mentioned I was like, okay now leave the phone alone. But in the first round I wasn’t too worried about it because I didn’t think I would get drafted in the first round.
I knew how long the first two rounds would be, but it actually went faster than I thought. Everyone was at my house and we were having fun, so as long as it happened on the first day I was okay. We were cooking out at my house and I wanted to be selected on the first day. I didn’t want to have everyone there and not get drafted. We were ready for a long day.
When I got the call from the Steelers I was on the phone just saying yeah, yeah. I don’t even know what anyone was telling me or asking me. I was just agreeing to whatever was said because I was so excited.
I remember coming out of the house and telling everyone and there were tears, yelling and screaming. It was all of that and above. It’s like it was when we won Super Bowl XL. The draft was the first Super Bowl and then I got the real one. That was the biggest moment in my life until we won the championship. I have never been that excited in my life until we won the championship. To have that excitement twice is pretty special.