My NFL Draft Experience

Troy Vincent, Executive Vice President, NFL Football Operations, shares his memories from his NFL Draft day

A lot has happened since April 26, 1992 — the day the Miami Dolphins called my name as the seventh overall pick in the 1992 NFL draft. 
NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent poses with his grandmother Julia and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue after he was selected out of Wisconsin with the seventh pick in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins in April, 1992. (AP Photo/Richard Harbus)

NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent poses with his grandmother Julia and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue after he was selected out of Wisconsin with the seventh pick in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins in April, 1992. (AP Photo/Richard Harbus)

It was one of the most cherished and memorable milestones in my career, and certainly one of the greatest moments in my family’s history. But it was only the beginning for me.

I had been projected by many experts as an early first-round pick, so I was invited to attend the draft. I made the quick trip to New York City from Trenton, N.J., to sit with other top prospects in the “green room,” where we waited for our names to be called.

When the Dolphins selected me with the 7th pick, I realized that all of my hard work and dreams had paid off. The investments my family, my coaches and community members had made in me over the years were validated.

But the draft experience is far more than the excitement of hearing your name called, shaking hands with the commissioner and holding up your new team’s jersey as you pose for pictures. It’s the beginning of one of the most intense and challenging phases of your life.

All too often, today’s athletes focus on the immediate celebration — not on what comes next. Once you’re drafted, you enter a world where you’re judged on your production, not your potential. Some people will still tell you how great you are, but now more than ever, other players are working hard, trying to take your job — and your dream — away from you.

One of the most memorable experiences for me happened when I returned to Trenton after the draft. My family, friends, and coaches gathered to celebrate with me. They also helped me to put what had happened in perspective: Within a couple of hours, I was back on the old basketball court in the park around the corner, playing a game of pickup.

Troy Vincent poses for his NFL trading card before his rookie season with the Miami Dolphins in 1992. (AP Photo/NFL Photos)

Troy Vincent poses for his NFL trading card before his rookie season with the Miami Dolphins in 1992. (AP Photo/NFL Photos)

That day, the most important people in my life helped keep me grounded. I realized that my first full day as a top draft pick had to be treated like any other day, and that the true challenge was ahead. I had to compete for, and earn, my job on the Dolphins.

My advice to those players about to be drafted, celebrate, but don’t let anyone tell you that being drafted by an NFL team is the pinnacle of your career. Never once did I allow that to settle in my mind. The NFL playing experience is just the next leg of a longer journey.

Scripture says that to whom much is given, much is required, and that humility comes before honor. Being drafted by an NFL team is an amazing accomplishment, but one that requires humility. Not only did God bless me with an opportunity to play the greatest game on the biggest stage, but He also blessed me with an awesome responsibility to do something great with it.

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