EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.– For a number of Vikings players, the arrival of NFL Draft Week brings them back to the moments when they received life-changing phone calls.
Xavier Rhodes has four NFL seasons under his belt, but he still vividly recalls hearing his name at No. 25 overall, donning a Vikings Purple cap and walking across the stage in New York City.
"Honestly, it seems like yesterday," Rhodes told Twin Cities media members Tuesday. "I'm going on my fifth year now and feel like I'm still a rookie. The whole moment still feels fresh to me."
Quarterback Sam Bradford also was a first-round pick, selected first overall by the Rams (then in St. Louis) in 2010. When asked if he felt extra pressure as the No. 1 player off the board, Bradford said the internal expectations outweighed the external.
"I think anytime you're a top draft pick, there's always pressure," said Bradford, who in 2016 set the NFL's single-season completion percentage record (71.6) in his first season with the Vikings. "But I've always said that I put more pressure on myself than anyone on the outside could ever put on me."
Added Bradford: "I think for a lot of guys, that's how they handle it."
Defensive lineman Datone Jones was selected by the Packers 26th overall in 2013 and played his first four seasons with the NFC North division rivals.
Jones, whom the Vikings signed as a free agent in March, recalled the evening he received a Round 1 phone call from Green Bay.
"It was a crazy feeling," Jones said. "I actually stayed home, away from New York, just to be with my family, because I didn't know I was going to be a first-round draft pick."
According to Jones, the draft allows the opportunity to celebrate hours of hard work and dedication paying off. He offered advice to players in this year's draft class, whether they're taken in the first round or the seventh round.
"Once you're drafted, have fun with your family and friends. The next day, it's your job," Jones said. "Embrace it, challenge yourself to become a better player every day, and [don't] really worry about which round you go in. Because at the end of the day, you come in here and you have to prove yourself, and you have to show up."
Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs is two years removed from being picked on Day 3 of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Diggs grinned when a media member asked him about the moment the Vikings drafted him 146th overall.
"When I got the phone call, [I had been] working out a little bit prior," Diggs said before adding with a chuckle: "I was working out because I needed to work out. I just feel like [whether] you get called or don't get called, whether it happens or not, if you do get a phone call, you want to be doing something productive."
Draft day – or evening – experiences may vary from player to player, but two aspects ring true for all of them: it was the moment their dreams of playing football at the highest level came true.
"I was thankful for the opportunity, and that's how I am now," Diggs said. "My approach is that I'm here to work. After I got called, I had a lot to prove. I still have a lot to prove."
Celebrate the draft with the Vikings
Stefon Diggs and Everson Griffen will join Kentrell Brothers, Isaac Fruechte and David Morgan at U.S. Bank Stadium for Vikings DraftFest on Day 3 of the draft. The event runs from 10:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Tickets are still available for purchase by clicking here.
Vikings Legends Tyrone Carter, Chuck Foreman, Paul Krause and Randall McDaniel are also expected to appear at Saturday's family-friendly event.