Las Vegas made a grand show out of this year’s NFL Draft Weekend. The festivities kicked off with a pink carpet on a floating stage in the middle of the Bellagio fountain to honor the college prospects hopeful to be drafted into the league.
As the 32 NFL teams continued to make their picks throughout the weekend, the party continued when four-time Super Bowl champion Rob Gronkowski invaded the city with the return of his own personal music festival, Gronk Beach. Featuring Grammy Award Winning Pop Duo, The Chainsmokers, Gronk Beach brought the athlete’s eccentric personality to life at Encore Beach Club combining a high end pool party environment with Gronkowski’s favorite musical artists, food and drinks.
Los Angeles magazine was one of the few outlets who got time to speak with the majority of the first round picks minutes before their fate was revealed. Quarterback Matt Corral was picked by the Carolina Panthers in the third round, and hyped up his Los Angeles hometown for giving him the “swagger” that got him to the league.
“Being from the west coast, specifically north LA, it brought a little swagger to me,’ Corral told LA Mag. “I had to go to the South and I had to play in the SEC, and that’s something I wanted to do, but a lot of the kids down there thought the west was soft, and I had to show them that it wasn’t.”
Keep reading to learn each prospect’s defining moment where they knew they could make a career out of the sport.
Round 1 – Pick 9 – Seattle Seahawks
“I would say it was in my junior year. I’m from Mississippi and a lot of kids don’t get the opportunity to play in the Division 1 level so once I started doing that, I just took it and ran with it. I love the game, the process, the season starting, working out, all of it. I just took it one day at a time, trying to implement myself on and off the field and this isn’t the final product, but it’s one of them.”
Round 3 – Pick 19 – Philadelphia Eagles
“For me, it was when I was in high school, probably in ninth grade when I got my first offer. I thought, ‘If I can make it in college, I can make it in the NFL, and I want to be one of the greats.’ So that’s the plan. I’m going to continue to work to get better every day.”
Round 1 – Pick 6 – Carolina Panthers
“Man it was actually like probably kind of recent, honestly. I had a hard conversation with my offensive coordinator and he straightened me out and he kind of made me realize my potential and made me work towards that goal so I credit him for bringing that out of me.”
Round 2 – Pick 7 – Chicago Bears
“In high school when I got my first offer, everything started really clicking like, ‘I could really go here and do that. Let me put my all into it’ and that’s what I did and that’s why I’m here today.”
Round 1 – Pick 17 – Los Angeles Chargers
“I would say for me, it was after I transferred to Boston College. It was a sink or swim thing for me. I was finally on scholarship, but a lot of people didn’t think I’d get on the field and play and it was a thing where I had to beat the odds. I feel like after going through that, it really solidified who I am today. That’s something I take pride in, working hard and overcoming adversity.”
Round 1 – Pick 26 – New York Jets
“A lot of hard word, blood, sweat and tears went into this objective right here so I’m just going to enjoy it the best I can and I have my beautiful parents here and all of my little brothers and my other siblings so I’m just enjoying it. It’s one of those things that’s coming full circle. It still hasn’t hit yet, but I’m sure it will once I get drafted. I’ve had a crazy journey and every step of my journey when I had an opposition and getting over that is when I was like, ‘Okay, I could do this. I’m built for it because of what I’ve gone through and what I’ve overcome.’”
Round 1 – Pick 13 – Kansas City Chiefs
“Probably my first game ever, my sophomore year of high school was pretty instrumental to me. I had two sacs the first half and I was like, ‘Alright, I think I can do this some day.’”
Round 1 – Pick 7 – New York Giants
“When I went to the IMG Academy and I started going up against that top competition, that’s when I knew I had a legitimate shot making it to the NFL as long as I put the work in.”
Round 3 – Pick 22 – Tennessee Titans
“Probably my first game in college when I accidentally played and we played against West Kentucky, I was like, ‘Okay, I had a first game,’ I hadn’t played prior so if I had a good first game, I could just build on this.”