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Reactions to Day 1 in NFL for Packers' draft picks: 'Nervous' … 'surreal' … 'ready' 

Rookie minicamp is underway in Green Bay

Packers LB Quay Walker
Packers LB Quay Walker

GREEN BAY – The initial emotions run the gamut.

The Packers' first draft pick, Quay Walker, had never been to Green Bay before, so when he arrived for this weekend's rookie minicamp, he admitted to some anxiousness.

"I pretty much sat at my locker and stared around the whole place and that was it," said Walker, the first-round pick the Packers took with the No. 22 overall pick. "Kinda nervous a little bit, but a good type of nervous."

Meanwhile, the Packers' last pick, receiver Samori Toure, had come to Green Bay on a pre-draft visit and was quickly reacquainting himself with everything.

"It just felt like I was at home," said Toure, the fourth of Green Bay's four seventh-round picks last weekend. "I was telling my agent after I left, I have a feeling I'm going to end up as a Green Bay Packer. But I was just talking. I didn't think it would actually happen. It's cool to see how it came full circle."

Regardless of the immediate reactions, they're all starting from square one now, with two non-padded practices Friday and Saturday serving as their first official workouts as NFL rookies.

This weekend's group includes all 11 draft picks, 14 undrafted free agents, and 18 tryout hopefuls, with one spot on the 90-man offseason roster available.

"It's always exciting when you get these guys in the building. It's like getting a bunch of new toys," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "So, we'll see how they acclimate themselves and how they can take what they learn in the classroom out to the field."

The rookies have been eager to get going after spending the past few months training for the scouting combine, and then for pro days, and then going through interviews and everything else that's, well, not really football.

"There's only so much of that a football player would want to do," said receiver Christian Watson, a second-round pick. "A football player wants to be a football player."

First-round pick Devonte Wyatt said he and Georgia teammates Quay and Travon Walker (the latter chosen first overall in the draft by Jacksonville) put their college helmets back on last week just to get used to the feeling again.

"But just to be in that Green Bay helmet, it's a blessing," Wyatt said. "I can't wait to get it, like today, and I'm ready."

The exposure to the playbook this weekend is minimal at best. It's an introduction just to get through the two practices and run a handful of plays or concepts.

Players on both sides of the ball have some level of familiarity because "football is football," as they like to say, but learning the terminology is always a challenge. Learning at a different pace adds to that challenge, too.

"You've got to know it like that," said fourth-round pick and offensive lineman Zach Tom, snapping his fingers. "It's definitely a lot different in college. College, you go a little slower but here, it's like you're expected to know it and go out there on the field pretty much hours after you learn it and execute."

When they aren't in meetings or preparing for practice, the rookies are trying to soak in the atmosphere as best they can, without getting distracted.

Wyatt confessed he took a moment to process seeing "my name being on that locker," and the players see the other nameplates around the room as well of stars they've watched on TV for years – Aaron Rodgers, David Bakhtiari, etc. – but are now their teammates.

"It's surreal," said third-round pick Sean Rhyan, an offensive lineman from UCLA. "But I'm in the same locker room as them now. Time to kind of build a name for myself."

From scratch.

"I heard it today from Coach: 'Nothing is given. Everything is earned,'" Watson said. "So regardless of if I was drafted No. 1 overall or in the seventh round, I'm going to have to earn the spot that I want day-in and day-out."

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