A walk through the locker room for some reminisces about Draft Day:
He was the third pick of the fourth round, which meant he was the third pick Saturday. Which meant he could have been picked at some point on Friday night, but he says he had no problem sleeping with his home in Alpharetta, Ga., filled with family and friends.
Yet after he took calls from head coach Marvin Lewis and offensive line coach Paul Alexander, that was about it. The lockout was underway and team employees could have no contact with players until a collective bargaining agreement was signed.
“I talked to Coach Alexander, did a Q and A with the media (on a conference call) and didn’t hear from anybody for three months,” Boling says. “After I talked to Paul a little bit he said, ‘OK, talk to you after the lockout.’ It was interesting.’”
Boling grew up a Falcons fan and admittedly didn’t know much at all about the Bengals or their roster situation. But despite all that, he ended up starting the first three games of his career at right guard with Bobbie Williams suspended. So they did get in touch once that CBA was signed and the camps opened the last week in July.
P Kevin Huber, fifth-round pick, 2009
The Cincinnati kid was standing on the 17th tee at California Golf Course when he got the call from Lewis, about a 3-wood away from where he grew up on the East Side in Anderson Township. By the time special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons got on the phone, Huber’s brother Jeremy was approaching the cart, figured it out, and started yelling with joy.
“Darrin said, ‘Who the heck is that?’” Huber says, and it could have been anybody in his family delighted he was staying in town. Huber never did deal with the 17th that day, a plays-longer than-it-looks par 4 with a tilted fairway. Instead, he got a crash course on the draft that had played pretty straight.
“I didn’t just want to sit around, I wanted to play some golf, so there were about 12 of us and I kept getting prank calls from the other carts,” Huber says. “So I was trying not to look at my phone and that’s the only way you could follow it.”
What Huber later discovered is the three teams that he felt were the leaders to draft him all drafted a punter. The Saints took SMU’s Thomas Morstead 22 picks after the Bengals took Huber in the fifth round and the Colts took West Virginia’s Pat McAfee in the seventh round.
It turned out pretty well for everyone. McAfee has re-signed with the Colts, Morstead has been to a Pro Bowl and Huber could have gone to the last two Pro Bowls in between signing a healthy five-year, $14 million deal, according to spotrac.com.
“It was nice to stay home,” Huber says. “It made the transition easier and everyone in my family gets to see me play.”
RB Eric Ball, second-round pick, 1989
Ball, the Bengals director of player relations, almost slept through his draft call. A former Rose Bowl MVP for UCLA, Ball thought he’d be done early. His agent told him to be ready for the Giants at No. 18, but if they didn’t take him, “it could be awhile.”
Hurry up and wait. The Giants took Minnesota center Brian Williams and Ball thought it might get interesting when the Bengals got on the board at No. 27. But Cincinnati traded down to the Falcons to get the 35th, 89th, and 256th picks and Ball went to sleep.
If it wasn’t for college teammate Carnell Lake going to the Steelers at No. 34, he might not have woken up. Head coach Sam Wyche and running backs coach Jim Anderson were on the phone next at No. 35 and Ball found himself on the NFL’s best rushing team with the league’s hottest young back, Ickey Woods, the previous season’s second-round pick.
Campbell, the Bengals new backup quarterback, wasn’t in New York, preferring to stay at his Auburn apartment with family and friends. Washington called and said they wanted to get him, but were hearing other teams were interested and told him, “We’re going to go up and get you.”
Campbell took the call away from the TV and went upstairs to closet himself in his bedroom and reclined on his bed for a few moments to ponder if Washington would pull it off.
Washington followed through and traded back into the first round with Denver and took Campbell with the 25th pick. Campbell got his answer when he heard the shouts as everyone scrambled upstairs to hug him.
“To see your mom shed tears and your dad hugging your mom, it made me think of all the work they dedicated with their finances for me so I could go to all kinds of summer camps,” Campbell says. “I was more excited for my parents.”
Larry Campbell had one more year before he retired as an assistant principal and head basketball coach at Taylorsville High School in Mississippi. His mother, Carolyn, had spent the last seven years as an assistant teacher at an elementary school after the sewing plant where she worked for 30 years went under and took her retirement with it.
“I retired her when I made it to the pros,” Campbell says. “I always promised her if I made it to the pros I’d buy her a house. To achieve that goal meant a lot.”
Whitworth shakes his head when he thinks back to his draft. “Where were all the tackles?” he wonders. “I want to know what happened to my draft.”
Four tackles are locks in this year’s first round and five or six may go. Three tackles went in the first 11 picks last year.
2006? One tackle went in the first 38 picks, the Jets’ D’Brickashaw Ferguson. By the time Whitworth went at No. 55, he was the fifth one taken. Of those five, only Whitworth and Ferguson are either still playing tackle or still in the league.
Whitworth chose to spend the day at his apartment in Baton Rouge with LSU teammates Joseph Addai and Bennie Brazell. When Addai went in the bottom of the first round to the Colts, “we went out and were doing four-wheelers or something and I got drafted about 30 picks later and then Bennie got drafted by the Bengals at the end (in the seventh round).
“The funny thing is, I had two calls right before Lewis called" Whitworth says. “They were teams that were going to take me, so it was weird. Tampa and Houston.”
Boston College tackle Jeremy Trueblood went to Tampa at No. 59 and the Texans drafted two tackles back-to-back in Pittsburgh’s Charles Spencer at No. 65 and Miami’s Eric Winston at No. 66.
“It worked out about right,” Whitworth says. “The two years I sent my rating in to see where I would be drafted, it said the same thing each time. Early second to the third.”