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Packers' 2002 Class Shares Draft Memories


The draft is especially tough on players like Fisher, who never hear their names called.

Essentially on the clock since the end of the 2002 season, the Cincinnati Bengals erased any speculation surrounding the identity of their No. 1 pick when they signed USC quarterback Carson Palmer Thursday, two days before the official start of the 2003 NFL Draft.

But if the draft's No. 1 pick will pass by Saturday morning with little drama, how the following 261 selections will go down over the next 48 hours is anybody's guess.

For the fan, the draft is a time of excitement. Having your team on the clock is like having a birthday gift in your lap...and as you unwrap you hope that what's inside is something you'll cherish forever.

For the team, the draft is a time of possibility. After months of preparation, the effect of these two days can be felt for years to come.

For the draft-eligible player, the draft is time of mixed emotions -- excitement and anxiety.

Palmer knows where he's headed next season, and maybe there are a handful of other players who are fairly confident about their future teams, too, but the majority can't even be sure what round they will be drafted in, never mind by what team.

That's if they're drafted at all. And make no mistake, there are handfuls of players each year who are promised a place in the draft by agents and team representatives and draft 'experts,' only to watch seven rounds pass by without their name being called.

We should remember that being drafted isn't the same thing as making the team, and that in theory an undrafted free agent with third-round talent will make the team before a fifth-rounder with sixth-round talent.

But we also shouldn't forget that the better the pick, the better the payday for the player, and the greater the burden for the drafting team to make that pick work.

Every NFL player has his own draft day story. From the ones that went right, to the ones that went wrong. talked to three members of the 2002 rookie class, to get their memories of last year's event.

Marques Anderson -- A cornerback and safety in his four seasons with UCLA, Marques Anderson became the Packers' second selection of the 2002 draft when he was chosen in the third round with the 92nd overall pick. Anderson went on to play 14 regular season games, plus one playoff game, earning 12 starts at safety. Among his highlights, Anderson tallied four interceptions, second-best among NFC rookies in 2002.

Anderson: For me, draft day was kind of hectic. I didn't really know where I was going to go in the draft, so I didn't really know what team was going to take me.

All I knew was that it was going to be a time of change. The odds of getting drafted by a team in your hometown are slim, so you know that you're going to be headed to somewhere totally different.

That's exciting, but it also makes you anxious for things to get rolling. I couldn't wait to prove to people in the NFL that I belonged, that I had the talent to make it.

People told me I would be taken somewhere in the second or third rounds.

The first phone call I got was from Philadelphia, suggesting they were going to take me in the second round (Note: Philadelphia had overall picks 58 and 59 in the second round). It was between me and Michael Lewis (Colorado).

Basically they felt like Lewis had more physical attributes because he was taller (6-foot-1, compared to Anderson's 5-foot-11). But I have long arms and Lewis wasn't any faster than me.

When they didn't take me, I was a little skeptical. The last thing you want to happen in the draft is to slide. What can happen is that all of a sudden teams don't need safeties, so you can go from being a third-rounder to being a sixth or seventh-round pick.

When I didn't go in the second round, I was a little disappointed. Of course when I look back on everything, it worked out for the better. I ended up going to the Packers, a team with a great history and tradition -- a team that wins. I knew I didn't want to go to a team that had a history of losing.

And when the Packers picked me I was very happy. I was pleased that I got to go to a team with Brett Favre and Ahman Green.

And then it worked out even better because I got a chance to get on the field my first season. As a player, that's what you want is a chance to prove that you belong.

Talking to (GM/Head Coach) Mike Sherman last season, he told me that if the Packers hadn't traded their second-round pick, they would have taken me. So I think I was meant to be here.

Anderson's advice for 2003 draft-eligible players on draft day: Just be patient. Wherever you go in the draft, whatever team you end up with, just work hard and prove that you belong in the NFL. You can't get down if things don't go the way you expect. You have to remember that your goal is to make it to the NFL and play football.

Aaron Kampman -- A defensive tackle and defensive end in four seasons at Iowa, Aaron Kampman became the Packers' second selection of the second day when the Packers chose him in the fifth-round with the 156th overall pickt. Kampman went on to play in 13 games in the 2002 season, including playoffs. He made six starts at defensive end. Among his highlights, Kampman turned in seven-tackle performances versus Carolina, New England and Washington.

Kampman: My draft experience is a little different than most because I didn't go to the Combine and I didn't go to the Senior Bowl. From the very beginning I was fighting an uphill battle.

Going into the draft I had been told I would go anywhere from the end of the first day (third round), to the end of the second (seventh round). I had no idea.

So the first day came and went and my name wasn't called.

Obviously you hope to go as high as you can, but I went to bed that night and had a peace about it. With my faith and what I believe, I believed I was going to go where I was supposed to go -- if I went at all.

So the second day came and the fourth round went by. I started seeing more defensive ends being taken and I started to say, 'Man, what's going on?' You know, 'I'm better than this guy, I'm better than that guy!' As an athlete you always think that.

Because I had a great visit to Green Bay, I really started focusing when they had a pick in the third round. I'd also been hearing things from Indianapolis, expressing some interest. But they picked up a defensive end early instead (Syracuse's Dwight Freeney).

As it kept trickling down I started to worry a bit. I definitely had some fears, but I really warded those off pretty well. Because, really, what can you do? It's out of your hands.

Then the fifth round came and Green Bay picked me.

Looking back on it now, obviously it was the best thing that could have happened in terms of the team, getting a chance to play as a rookie, the whole thing. As I look back on it, I can see what I consider God's footprints throughout the whole thing.

At the time, yeah, I kind of wished I had gone higher, but that's just man's pride.

In the end, getting the call was great. After all that anticipation and anxiety wanting to find out, you finally know where you're headed and you have a goal and direction.

And I got to be a Green Bay Packer. And that's a pretty great deal.

Kampman's advice for 2003 draft-eligible players on draft day: Just relax. It's easier said than done, obviously. It's the battle that everybody faces. As athletes you always want to be the best and so that means you want to be the first pick of the first round. But there can only be one of those. So whatever your circumstances become, you deal with it and then you work your way toward becoming the best."

Tony Fisher -- A running back at Notre Dame, Tony Fisher was coming off a senior year in which he was slowed by a hamstring injury. Fisher wasn't claimed in the NFL Draft and was signed by the Packers as a free agent thereafter. One of three undrafted free agents to make the Packers' season-opening roster, Fisher played in all but one game for the Packers in 2002. Among his highlights, Fisher made his first NFL start against the Minnesota Vikings and helped the Packers to a victory carrying the ball 25 times for 96 yards, including the game-winning touchdown.

Fisher: Going in I heard that I was going to get drafted somewhere in the middle rounds. It didn't happen that way.

For any college player going into the draft, those two days are the hardest of your life because you don't know what's going to happen. You hear all the hype and the speculation about where you might be drafted, and if you don't get drafted where they say you're going to be, you get mad.

You also start getting phone calls from teams saying: 'We've got a pick coming up and we're going to take you. We're going to draft you right here.' And then you see the pick come up, and you don't get a phone call.

The first phone call I got was in the fourth round. The team told me they had a couple picks in that round and they were going to use one of them on me.

After a while, it was out of my hands.

When the draft comes around, everything is out of your hands unless you know that you're a guaranteed first-rounder. From the second round on, it's a toss-up for everybody. All the hype and speculation, all that Mel Kiper stuff, it doesn't mean anything because what he thinks doesn't matter. After a while it comes down to what each team needs.

No player needs to go through that. They just need to come in and pick you up -- forget that round stuff. It's just too much stress.

For me it was the longest two days of my life. You sit there and watch all those hours of the same thing, and when you don't end up getting calls, or when you do get calls but they don't pick you, that's tough.

The way I look at it is that I have a chip on my shoulder for everybody we play against.

I was happy when I signed with the Packers. I was happy that I had an opportunity to play for a team -- and Green Bay is home to me now. But I was upset because of all the teams that called me and told me they were going to take me and then didn't.

And when you sign as a free agent, you have to do everything the hard way. I went the hard way. In the long run, I think it's made me better person, but I wish I wouldn't have had to go through that.

Fisher's advice for 2003 draft-eligible players on draft day: Your best bet is to try and stay as relaxed as possible and not let it stress you out. If you go in with the wrong attitude and start thinking about what teams you want to end up with and what teams you don't, that's bad news. You could end up with one of those teams you decided you didn't like. I was lucky to end up with the Packers, but wherever you end up you have to be thankful for the opportunity. There are a lot of people who would love to have that same chance, but never get it.

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