Raise your hand if you had Corey Linsley penciled in last May as the only Green Bay Packer that would play every one of the offense's 1,050 snaps in 2014.
That's the beauty of the NFL draft.
A year ago, Linsley was one of the hundreds of college players anxiously waiting to hear their name called during the 2014 NFL draft. His agent kept his expectations in check, telling the former Ohio State center throughout the process that "you're a guy who could get drafted or could go undrafted."
Recounting his draft experiences in a personal blog, Linsley recalled the events that unfolded before the Packers drafted him in the fifth round (161st overall). He spent the draft at his girlfriend's apartment in Columbus, Ohio, and a lot of nerves were involved.
"When I think about it, I remember being stressed as all get out," Linsley wrote. "It's an exciting process, in terms of how much is going on at one time. But as a player going through it, you're stressed because you don't know where you're going to go, where you're going to end up. For a guy like me, I didn't know if I was even going to get drafted. For every guy, it's different, but for me, I felt nervous, excited and pretty much every emotion you could think of throughout those three days."
Humble beginnings are nothing new for Packers' offensive linemen. Outside of 2010 first-round pick Bryan Bulaga, every member of the line has entered the NFL through the fourth round or later, including all-pro guard Josh Sitton.
Linsley impressed early in training camp with his brute strength, but was behind JC Tretter on the center depth chart. He received a game-changing opportunity when Tretter injured his knee in the Packers' third preseason game against Oakland, landing him on the physically unable to perform list for the first eight weeks of the regular season.
Linsley jumped in and started the next 18 games (including playoffs). By all accounts, he appears to be the long-term answer at the position that quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been seeking.
"And I am proof that it's important to be ready for anything," Linsley wrote. "What happened to me (with JC getting injured and me stepping in as starting center) is something that happens in sports sometimes. I was there to step up and those situations present themselves sometimes. For a lot of guys, the path is that they will have to wait. Whatever happens, make sure you are ready and prepared to showcase your abilities when the opportunity presents itself."
Linsley said he'll be watching the NFL draft this weekend and already offered a few words of encouragement to Ohio State offensive lineman Darryl Baldwin, who is projected as a third-day draft choice much like Linsley was last year.
Check out more of Linsley's story at the link posted above.
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