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Former Redskins First-Round Picks Recount Their Draft Night Experiences


NFL draft week is finally here, and on Thursday night the Washington Redskins will be on the clock with the 15th-overall pick. After months of evaluation and deliberation, the organization will settle on a prospect it believes can change the complexion of its team in the years to come. After months of preparation, this player will hear his name called at No. 15, walk onto to the stage in Nashville, Tenn., and hold up a jersey of his newest franchise.

In anticipation of the selection, spoke to four of the franchise's former first-round picks -- outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (2011), offensive lineman Brandon Scherff (2015), wide receiver Josh Doctson (2016) and defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (2017) -- to hear about their draft night experiences and shed light about what prospects attending the 2019 NFL Draft can expect.

What was draft night like for you?

Kerrigan: It's an unbelievable experience. You watch the draft growing up. I watched probably every draft from the time I started watching football to the time I got drafted. Even now, I still watch it. And so to actually be there in New York to have my name called to go out and hold up the jersey with the hat was an unbelievable experience. I never thought in a million years growing up that that would be me, and there I was getting picked by the Redskins at 16. It was amazing.

Scherff: You know all of your hard work has paid off, and working just each and every day, and if you have a bad day, just keep working and keep your head on straight. I had amazing coaches in high school, amazing coaches in college and I wouldn't be here without them.

Doctson: It was unreal. You watch the draft growing up, and I think that's maybe a goal for people preparing for the draft. I's one of those big moments going from the collegiate level to the NFL level. I was able to bring my whole family with me and being in that back room, we were in Chicago, and having my family there on the night that would hopefully change my life was kind of surreal. You never fully understand the moment that you're in. When your phone freezes and you can't even text anybody because so many people were texting you, and so many people are watching this draft and seeing you turn this dream into a reality is surreal. It was an amazing night, not just for me but for my family to see the youngest of four do something monumental for himself.

Allen: It was long for me. I wasn't really into all of the excess stuff outside of football, so for me it was super long, stressful, because all I wanted to do was know where I was going to play at. It was cool to see my family. But honestly it was super stressful for me because I just wanted to get it done, I wanted to get it over with. The draft night was probably the most high-stressed thing ever, but I just tried to stay calm and enjoy it.

What was it like the moment you got picked?

Kerrigan: I was totally relaxed the whole night. I realized at that point I had done everything I could to put myself in a good position to be drafted. Everybody else at the table, I can't say the same. They were all pretty nervous and not knowing what's going to happen. And then I think the Dolphins picked at 15, they picked Mike Pouncey, and then my phone started ringing after that, saw it was a 703 number and Mike Shanahan was at the other end of it. It's an amazing feeling, an amazing experience and I was even happier because I had had a really good interview with the Redskins leading up to the draft and thought I would fit well into their scheme. So that made it even better.

Scherff: Hearing your name, it's a dream come true. Once you heard that name, it was a huge weight off of your shoulders and you just go back to playing football.

Doctson: Before [being picked] was a lot of anxiety, happy anxiety. I wouldn't say anxiety in terms of stress. … The anxiety kind of led to, 'Man, I'm about to pick up and go to somewhere in this country and I don't know yet.' But that was kind of the fascination of it. I was really fascinated about going to live somewhere. It was exciting seeing the names get called before me, seeing the reactions of the tables was really exciting. It was quiet in the room and you'd see the cameras chasing and hovering over certain tables during a pick, and you knew that they were about to get called. To see that happen was unexplainable. It was neat to watch. When the cameras hit your table -- I'm more of a shy guy -- and when the cameras were in my face I just knew it was my moment.

Allen: When you get your name called it's a sigh of relief. It's like starting all over again. Back to the bottom, don't know anybody. It's a lot, but you've got to keep the perspective that football is football.

What advice can you give prospects who will be attending the 2019 NFL Draft?

Kerrigan: Try to just be in the moment. Don't be on Twitter. Don't be on Instagram looking at things. Take a moment and just look around you, look at the family that's there with you and whoever is there with you and just appreciate being a part of a moment that 32 people get to be a part of every year. Just be present, take a moment to look around and embrace that moment.

Scherff: Just have fun with it. And when your name gets called, it's time for you to work. You're not given a spot right there. You've got to come out and prove it each and every day. So just continuing to fight and keep working.

Doctson: I'd just say live in the moment. I think that's exactly what I did, and I had fun. I don't know if most people worry about when they're gonna get called and where they're going to go. I'd just say don't worry about that because you can't control that. Just really be thankful, be thankful to be in that situation because that is a very small percentage of people who get that opportunity to go there and get called that night.

Allen: Just take it for what it is. Don't get caught up in all of the extra stuff that goes along with being a first-round pick. At the end of the day, it's just football, and as long as you go out there and do your job and do it at a high level and just be committed, you'll be fine.

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