With Super Bowl XLVIII over and done with, the 2013 season is officially in the rearview mirror and it's on to the offseason. With that comes conversations of which free agents should be brought back, targeted, let go, and so on and so forth. But discussing current NFL players is only half the battle.
In just three months, more than 250 collegiate stars will hear their names called during the 2014 NFL Draft, while another several hundred will be signed as undrafted rookie free agents.
So, what's this time like for these student-athletes hoping to find their way onto any of 32 NFL rosters come May? Senior reporter Eric Allen asked FB Tommy Bohanon to take us back a year and reflect on his own experience during a Q&A session last Thursday afternoon at Jets House.
"I was just thinking about everything that I had to do," Bohanon recalled. "I went to the Senior Bowl a year ago last week, so I was getting ready for that as soon as the season was over. There really was no break. You had to go straight back into training, and then you had to be ready for anything."
As it turned out, "anything" took the form of teams calling Bohanon to schedule predraft visits with as little as one day's notice. "It was definitely an exciting time," he said, "but it was very stressful as well."
The Wake Forest product found himself starting for the South squad during last January's Senior Bowl. Lining up in the backfield behind a pair of future Jets teammates, Oday Aboushi and Dalton Freeman, Bohanon showed a glimpse of his versatility with two receptions in the game.
But, as he explained to EA and the Jets House crowd, the impression he made off the field was likely more important than anything he could have done between the sidelines.
"The interview process is a big thing," Bohanon said. "They know what type of player you are. They see all the film, they see what you do on the field, so it's not them trying to figure out what type of player you are. They're just trying to figure out what type of teammate you're going to be and where your mindset is, if you just want money or if you just love the game of football."
Clearly the Jets liked what they saw, and heard, from Tommy Bohanon, who said that his initial talks with the team occurred in Mobile, AL, at the Senior Bowl and lasted 10 to 15 minutes.
The NFL Scouting Combine followed the Senior Bowl. Bohanon proved to be as strong as anyone with 36 225-pound benchpress reps, tied for the most among offensive players.
And last but certainly not least came April's draft, when the Jets selected Bohanon with their final pick, 215th overall in the seventh round.
"The draft was probably one of the most stressful days of my life just because you have teams that tell you, 'Hey, we like you in the fourth round,' 'We like you in the fifth round,' things like that, but then your name doesn't get called and you're just sitting there waiting," he said. "You have all this family here, you have your friends, and they want to celebrate with you, but it's kind of like 'Well, I don't know what's happening.'
"So it's really a stressful day, but once you hear your name called you forget about everything."