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The NFL Draft is finished, and the work will officially begin for the more than 260 players who were selected and the scores of players who were signed as undrafted free agents.
Whether you’re Travon Walker, who was selected No. 1 by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brock Purdy, who was taken No. 262 by the San Francisco 49ers, or sign with a team as an undrafted free agent, it’s all about the work that goes along with the opportunity to be an NFL player.
In the days leading up to the draft and after the final round wrapped up, Fox News Digital asked current and former players what advice they had for incoming rookies on how they could gain respect in the locker room.
Here’s what they had to say.
Robbie Gould, 49ers kicker
The one-time All-Pro kicker talked to Fox News Digital at the Las Vegas Invitational Celebrity Golf and Poker Tournament hosted by The Greens Golf Association in partnership with Resorts World Las Vegas.
Gould was getting some practice swings in when he gave his advice.
“Just come in, be quiet and work. It’s that simple. You haven’t done anything in the NFL yet. I don’t care where you were drafted. I always remember Bill Belichick saying, ‘I don’t care what you did for me last year and I really don’t care where I drafted you. It’s about what you’re going to do for me this year.’ Just come in and work and earn the respect by working,” he said.
Willie Gault, Super Bowl champion wide receiver
Gault, who won a ring with the Chicago Bears, was also playing at the same tournament as Gould.
He played 11 seasons in the NFL between the Bears and the then-Los Angeles Raiders.
“Enjoy it. Respect the game. It’s going to be over before you know it. Even though this is a first-year rookie, at some point they’re going to retire. You got to really relish in the moment and respect the moment, understand the moment, be respectful of the history of it,” he said.
“Make your opportunities count. Build your relationships. It’s all about relationships and how you treat people and how people treat you. Also, the one thing you have to realize is that the fans that adore you are the ones who pay your bills. Respect them and understand that they’re there to support you, and some are not gonna like you, and some will, but it’s all part of it.”
Pacman Jones, ex-NFL cornerback
Jones spent 12 years in the league and missed a season after violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
He spoke to Fox News Digital ahead of his appearance at the Parlor Games Celebrity Basketball Classic at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas.
“Respect the game and know the game is a business and take everything as a business. I kinda took a lot of things for granted at first, and I didn’t realize how much of a business the NFL is. Respect the craft and just know there’s a lot of mother—–s trying to be where you’re at.”
Chase Claypool, Steelers wide receiver
Claypool also made an appearance at the Parlor Games Celebrity Basketball Classic.
The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver has come on strong since entering the league in 2020.
“I think the biggest thing is staying healthy,” he said. “Taking care of your body. You’re gonna develop some routines outside of the facility or off the field and take care of your body.”
Adoree Jackson, Giants cornerback
Jackson was a first-round pick of the Titans. The current New York Giants player talked to Fox News Digital ahead of the draft about new players coming in and what would be the best thing for them to do.
“Come in and get ready to work. As soon as I got drafted I texted Deshea Townsend, who was the (defensive backs) coach, and asked for all the (defensive backs’) numbers, and I personally reached out to all of them and told them I’m excited to join them and ready to work with the guys. I think that’s the best way to handle it and go about it,” he said.
“When you come in as a freshman in college, you come in as a freshman in high school, you try to prove yourself to get on the bus or whatever it may be. You’re really just trying to earn the respect of the guys, and I think the best way to do it is by coming to work every day and willing to learn because you don’t have all the answers. Nobody has all the answers. So, I feel like always learning and always trying to get better and getting work in every day is the best way to go about it.
Matthew Stafford, Rams quarterback
Stafford, fresh off a Super Bowl, joined Aidan Hutchinson at Courtyard by Marriott’s “Bistro & Banter” event inside the Library at Marquee at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the Autograph Collection hours before Hutchinson was selected No. 2 overall by the Detroit Lions.
Fox News Digital asked Stafford after the event was over whether he had advice for the Michigan standout. Stafford said to enjoy draft night.
“Whenever he figures out where he’s going. Just embrace it and have fun with it. There’s going to be good times. There’s going to be bad times — learn from all of them and trust all the guys around him to help him get there. Just put his head down, go to work, and he’ll be just fine.”
Ron Mix, Pro Football Hall of Famer
Mix talked to Fox News Digital about his own draft experience ahead of the event. The Los Angeles Chargers great had one of the most unique experiences as he had to decide whether to play in the NFL or the new rival American Football League.
He had a lot to tell rookies about what they should do, including hiring a good agent and taking advantage of everything that comes with it.
“Really just get ready when you’re drafted, see how quickly they’ll give you the playbook so you can learn your plays. You don’t want to mess up in camp, mess up plays because of indecision. You don’t quite know what to do, so you’re a second or even a nanosecond behind. When you participate in these voluntary team workouts, you just got to do it. You’ve got to be noticed,” he said.
“In training camp, you’re not there to make friends. Don’t try to be one of the boys and go out for drinks. Give attention to what you’re doing. Take it up a notch and go above what’s expected. You’ve got to be noticed. If they say this drill is half-speed, you go three-quarters speed. Don’t worry about whether somebody’s angry with you. Don’t worry about if it leads to a fight. You’re fighting for a job for you and your family.”
Greg Olsen, former tight end
Olsen went to three Pro Bowls during his NFL career and later became a FOX NFL broadcaster.
He played 14 years in the NFL with the Bears, Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks. He told Fox News Digital that going into the draft rookies shouldn’t try to predict where they’re going to go — just enjoy the ride.
“Once you’re picked, now the real work starts. You gotta get to that facility, get with that team and start earning your draft selection. That’s the real work that these guys have ahead of them.”
Darrell Thompson, former running back
The Green Bay Packers selected Thompson in the first round out of Minnesota.
Ahead of the draft, Thompson said the best thing rookies could do is to savor the experience.
“My No. 1 advice would be to take it in and actually appreciate it. I kind of did and I didn’t. I have as I gotten older, like the middle of my career — second or third year — I was like, ‘No one’s doing this. None of my friends are doing this.’ … Take it in, enjoy the moment. And then also, learn. There are guys there that know so much — from your coach to other people that play your position. Finally, last but not least, save your money. You’re not going to make this type of money doing anything else. Almost nothing else that you can do will earn you this type of income.”
Crawford Ker, former offensive lineman
Ker was a third-round pick of the Cowboys in 1985 and later thrived as a restaurateur.
He offered financial advice to Fox Business, saying it’s better to invest in something you’re passionate about rather than trying to learn something you’re not.
“I would always say go with your passion first. No. 2, go to what you’re good at. If you’re a good public speaker, do public speaking. If you’re good at finance, get into finance. If you love restaurants and food, get into restaurants and foods. But kind of find that passion.”