About this time last year, Daven Holly was out west spending all his time preparing for the NFL combine in Indianapolis with high hopes for the upcoming draft. Things have changed for the NFL cornerback, but there are still some similarities to last year. Today Daven sits in his home in the Windy City preparing for the 2006 NFL season with high hopes for his Chicago Bears.
Last year Holly was drafted in the 7th round by the San Francisco 49ers, but he was not happy after spending two entire days watching the draft on ESPN. "I was told by some people that I would be drafted on the first day so I watched the entire two days, but I really didn't start getting phone calls from teams until the 5th or 6th round. I wasn't too happy about where I got drafted so I really didn‘t do much after I saw my name. I thought I should have gotten picked higher."
Some NBA experts suggest that a player is better off to be a free agent if he doesn't go high in the draft. That way the player can pick a team that needs his skills, but Daven doesn't agree with that kind of reasoning for the NFL draft. "I think being drafted is always better. It worked out for me in my situation." But Daven didn't actually make the San Francisco ball club. The 49ers cut Daven with the intention of reclaiming after he cleared waivers and then adding him to their eight man practice squad, but their plan didn't work. The Bears claimed Holly off waivers, and he made their final roster. Daven was inactive for most of the season but got some playing time late in the year. He even recorded two tackles in the Bears' New Year's Day game with the Minnesota Vikings. He's optimistic about his future with the Bears. "I'm looking forward to having a training camp with them next year. I didn't get here until September so I didn't get to participate in their camp. I think I'll be better off next year."
Most people think all professional athletes are rich, but Daven was very frugal with his NFL signing bonus. "I used my signing bonus to pay some bills." Holly signed a three year deal with the 49ers, and that contract carried over to the Bears, but NFL contracts are not guaranteed so Daven is spending his off season in Chicago preparing to keep his job. "They pay you to workout so I'm here in Chicago taking advantage of it. Some of the guys left, but most will be back here in March."
The NFL wasn't much of a surprise to Daven except in one area. "It was pretty much what I expected except for the speed. It's a little faster than I thought."
Holly is still very much a Cincinnati Bearcat fan. After speaking to me, he was preparing to watch the Bearcat basketball team play on ESPN2.