Zach Zenner diary: Pressure, what pressure?
Zach Zenner played running back at South Dakota State, where he became the first FCS back to rush for 2,000 yards in three different seasons and finished 12 yards shy of setting the FCS’ all-time rushing record. Projected to be a late-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Zenner will take you through the process of training for the NFL Combine, his pro day, the anticipation for draft day and more. Check out his earlier entries at the bottom of the page, and follow Zenner on Twitter @Zenner31.
The countdown to the NFL Draft is now at just two weeks, but as the big day draws closer, I’m not feeling as nervous as you might expect, because I’m honestly not feeling nervous at all.
Maybe it’s just my personality, but I don’t have butterflies and don’t anticipate getting butterflies before the draft. When my phone rings and it’s a team telling me I’m their guy, maybe I’ll have some for a fleeting moment, but I’m not on edge waiting for the day to get here and I won’t be restless as the picks come in, because, in my opinion there’s absolutely no pressure on me.
The NFL teams are the ones who have a ton of pressure to make the right picks. My job is just to wait for a phone call. And what easier job is there than just sitting there and waiting by the phone? Truth be told, my biggest concern is that I might not have cell service if I’m out fishing with my friends back home when the call comes in!
Part of the reason I see the NFL Draft as a no-stress event is because the goal during this whole process and throughout my football career was never, specifically, to get drafted, but simply to make a team at the next level. Being drafted is great and it’s going to be a huge honor if it happens, but it’s still no guarantee of a spot on a roster. So I’m much more concerned with going out there and performing once I have a team to make than I am about where â or if â I’m picked.
You might find it hard to believe, but I’ve heard the argument that it might be better for a projected late-round pick like me to go undrafted than it would to be picked at all. As far as that goes, I think there are benefits to each philosophy.
If you don’t get drafted, you get to pick where you go out of a select number of teams that might be interested and you get to pick the situation, and having control of your destiny in that way is certainly not a negative. My agent, Chris Gittings at OneWest Sports, has told me I’ve drawn some significant interest from teams in recent weeks, so I’m confident I’ll get a chance to prove myself, even if my name isn’t called in Chicago.
At the same time, if you get drafted, that means there’s someone in that organization who really believed in you enough that he used one of their seven picks to make you a part of that team. Seven picks isn’t many to work with, so that’s a huge honor, and it means someone in the organization really has a lot of faith that you can do the job, and I think it’s important to have a team that believes in you enough to draft you. So I see both sides.
In either case, the goal at the end of the day is to be on a roster and I don’t know, sitting right here, which route would be better. Fortunately, I also don’t have a say. I don’t know which pathway makes it easier to make a team but I do know that I’m going to have to earn the right to play this fall regardless of how I end up in camp, and ultimately, if I’m meant to make a team, I’ll make a team.
And if I do make a roster and can continue living my dream in the NFL in the months and years to come, I don’t think it matters whether I arrived there through the draft. It’s all about how you perform and how you play, so that’s where my focus always has been and always will be.
Chapter 1: Getting a Combine invite and getting engaged
Chapter 2: Trying to score points at the Combine
Chapter 3: Home sweet home back at South Dakota State
Chapter 5: On Chris Borland, retirement and concussions
Chapter 6: Making a final impression at Pro Day
Chapter 7: Would I switch positions to make a team?