Ravens talk about ‘surreal’ NFL draft experience

OWINGS MILLS — Ravens running back Derrick Henry vividly remembers his NFL draft experience.

He had a party on the first night but didn’t get drafted, so he had to go home and watch the later rounds from his sofa. When he finally got the call from the Titans, who picked him in the second round with the 45th overall selection, it was a “surreal moment.”

“I love watching the draft, watching the guys come into the league to finally get an opportunity to see their dreams come true, see their reactions and things like that,” Henry said. “I think that’s pretty cool, and it’s pretty cool for kids who have those same dreams [and] aspirations to see that as well.” 

Inside linebacker Roquan Smith kept a journal during the draft because he wanted to cherish every minute of the experience. Smith was the eighth overall pick by the Chicago Bears in the 2018 draft.

Not bad for a kid from Marshallville, Georgia — population 1,009.

“Having my name called, walking across the stage, it felt very surreal,” Smith said. “Being where I’m from, not anyone there had gone first round from where I’m from, and not many people can say that as well throughout a lot of great legends throughout the game. So, [I] definitely was grateful for that. It was a great experience for me, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.” 

Smith won’t watch the draft as closely as in previous years, but he plans to follow the action.

“I’ll probably have some alerts on my phone or something like that, but I’m not too sure if I’ll actually be watching it,” Smith said. “It’s kind of crazy, because when I was a kid and then high school, then my first year or two in the league, I was watching the draft throughout – from the first pick to ‘Mr. Irrelevant.’ So, I was one of those types [of] guys.” 

The late 8 p.m. start to the draft means the Ravens won’t pick until after 11 with the 30 overall pick. That might not fit into Ravens center Tyler Linderbaum’s nightly schedule.

“It goes pretty late, so I might be in bed, but we’ll see,” Linderbaum said. “It’s a fun thing to watch. I remember back when I got drafted, it was a special moment, and it’s going to be special for all of those guys to get drafted, and even the guys who don’t get drafted, just have the opportunity to make it to the team.

“It’s an exciting time and a new chapter in guys’ lives, so it’s a pretty special event; I’ll probably turn it on.” 

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