EAGAN, Minn. — The NFL Draft is the realization of a dream come true, but several Vikings players said they hope that the 256 players selected from Thursday through Saturday realize it is merely the beginning.
While being selected by one of 32 teams with the NFL's scarcest resource enlists players into an elite fraternity, the legacy of the pick often takes much longer to write.
Kyle Rudolph, a second-round pick in 2011, is preparing for his eighth NFL season. The 28-year-old has become a sage in a locker room with dozens of younger players.
"I think the biggest thing, obviously you work your entire life for the NFL Draft, and up until that point in your career, it's the best day of your life," Rudolph said. "But it's just the beginning. It's the start of your NFL career, not the goal.
"Obviously your dream is to be drafted and play in the NFL, but once you're drafted, you haven't done anything," Rudolph added. "It's time to start getting to work. I was told by old guys when I was a young guy, as a rookie you come in and do everything you can to help us win football games. That's just what I've tried to do here over the last eight years."
Dalvin Cook became the Vikings second-round selection in 2017. Cook on Tuesday updated media members on his recovery from an ACL injury and also revisited the emotions of last year's draft.
"It's a big week. I tell all of those guys, 'You've got to seize the moment,' because when I first got that phone call, it was life-changing," Cook said. "I seen all of the joy in my family's eyes, my friends' eyes, everybody that helped me get to the point I was at. It's a big week for those guys. It's what you work for, so you've got to seize the moment and just be happy because it's life-changing."
It also can be quite surprising.
New Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has drawn considerable positive attention for his level of preparation.
Back in 2012, the former Michigan State Spartan was trying to figure out which team would pick him.
"I had a very unique draft situation because there were eight of us quarterbacks who were expected to be NFL-type quarterbacks," Cousins explained. "It was not so much a question of where we were going to go, but among those eight, where were we going to land. I was hoping to be, maybe four, five, six, somewhere in there."
The order of quarterbacks selected in 2012 follows:
No. 1 overall: Andrew Luck, Colts
No. 2 overall: Robert Griffin III, Redskins
No. 8 overall: Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
No. 22 overall: Brandon Weeden, Browns
No. 57 overall: Brock Osweiler, Broncos
No. 75 overall: Russell Wilson, Seahawks
No. 88 overall: Nick Foles, Eagles
No. 102 overall: Kirk Cousins, Redskins
No. 185 overall: Ryan Lindley, Cardinals
No. 243 overall: B.J. Coleman, Packers
No. 253 overall: Chandler Harnish, Colts
"I ended up being the eighth guy, didn't get picked until Saturday, waited around a little longer than I would have liked, and then I went to a team, that of the 32 teams in the NFL, I thought was the 32nd most likely to pick me, going to Washington and the situation there," Cousins said. "Very unique, but it turned out to be a great thing, led me to where I am right now. I couldn't be in a better place."
Cousins became a starter in 2015 and has thrown for at least 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in each of the past three seasons, becoming highly sought in free agency.
"The message to anybody right now getting drafted is to understand that it's a marathon, not a sprint," Cousins said. "The draft is more of a beginning than an end and understand that tough times don't last, but tough people do. Just choose to be a tough person every day. This game is going to test you, and if you choose to be a tough person day-in and day-out, I think you'll be in a good spot."
Everson Griffen is another highly successful fourth-round pick. The Vikings tabbed the defensive end in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft with the 100th overall selection.
Griffen has racked up 43.5 sacks since becoming a starter in 2014, and he has racked up three consecutive Pro Bowl honors.
"It's not where you start; it's where you finish," Griffen said. "That's what I tell young guys. It doesn't matter if you're an undrafted free agent. Look at Marcus Sherels – this is going on his ninth year, and he was an undrafted free agent. Me and him, this is both of our ninth years, and it's crazy, but you have to come out, you have to work. You have to be able to work hard and listen. That's the biggest thing. If I could give the guys one thing, it's listen to the coaches, because they're here to benefit you."