The easygoing Hawaii native he is, Max Unger is trading the NFL Draft green room in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall for a subdued living room in Eugene on Saturday, hanging out with his family, who flew in Thursday, rather than commissioner Roger Goodell.
“Nothing real crazy,” Unger said Thursday.
The real party begins afterward with friends. After a few days of celebrating, he’ll start coming to his NFL future. Destination: unknown.
“It’s cool, it’s like the new car smell,” he said. “It’s fun now but I think reality will set in.”
One thing is expected, however, is that Unger is expected to be a possible late-first round or early second round pick in Saturday’s draft, likely to be the first Oregon player chosen. Defensive backs Jairus Byrd and Patrick Chung are the next two highest-rated players, along with offensive lineman Fenuki Tupou and defensive tackle Sonny Harris. Defensive end Nick Reed could be a wild card selection late in the draft.
Unger visted Pittsburgh last week and Minnesota the week before that. With the secrecy of the draft, he’s not exactly sure what to make of their feedback. At this point no one can answer his question — So who’s going to pick me?
“The NFL teams play a weird game for jockeying for draft position and not letting other team’s know,” Unger said. “All this draft festivities lasts for a couple days then you have to bear down and learn an offense real quick.”
Depending on the team he is drafted to, the number of mini camps he will attend varies. He is not allowed to attend the team’s organized team activities (OTAs) until the date of his college graduation, despite having graduated already last June.
He’s pretty busy right now, too. He did three radio interviews, ranging from Hawaii to Eugene to Portland, Thursday before talking with this reporter. Waiting is the hardest part. And all eyes will be on his cell phone as the first round comes to a close Saturday.
For a guy who didn’t seriously play the sport until high school, football has slowly become a bigger part of his life through high school, then Oregon, and now the NFL, where the game will become his life.
“It’s one of those things you never think will get here,” he said.
If he wasn’t already, friend, former teammate and 2008 draftee to the Carolina Panthers Jeff Schwartz is on Unger’s speed dial now after talking nearly every day for the last week, Unger said. Soon enough he’ll experience the draft firsthand.