Can you take me through Saturday a little bit? I guess it was about 3 hours in when you got picked.
There was a lot of excitement. I was looking forward to eventually getting picked. I knew it was going to happen at some point. I just didn't know when. Once it started to getting to about (picks) nine or 10, I realized that I was going to have a chance to go sometime soon. It seemed like the 15 minutes (between picks) just seemed to be going slower and slower. Then, there were a few trades and a lot of shuffling around. When it go to 15, I thought that St. Louis was going to take me, and they didn't pull the trigger. I didn't get the phone call. So then, I knew I wasn't going to go to Miami, so my next best option was Minnesota after St. Louis. Minnesota gave me a call with about 10 minutes before their clock was up and said they were going to announce the pick in a couple of minutes. It was all done with.
We had talked earlier about it being more important where you went as opposed to when you went. What do you feel the Minnesota situation is like for you?
Well, I think it's really great. Obviously there's a new regime going in there with a great new head coach, who I feel really good about and who really makes a lot of ties to Coach Ferentz in similarities as far as personality and what he's going to be like as a coach. Their system, I think I'm going to play well in it. They have new ownership that was willing to spend the money to make the team get back into the playoffs. They're a perennial playoff contender. They're always right in there. I couldn't be happier because it's going to be a team who is going to right in there every year competing for not only the division but for the conference.
Have they discussed with you how they plan to use you?
I think I'm going to play the weak side. They play a lot of over defense, so the weak side will actually be towards the tight end. That's the position I'm going to play. They said that's what they want me to focus on. That's the position that I will play. I've been focusing on that in the play book and looking forward to getting that all taken care of and getting on the field for mini-camp in two weeks.
Looking at the depth chart, do you feel like you can go in and compete for a starting position and at the very least considerable playing time?
Yeah, definitely, I think I have a good opportunity to go in there and play right away. I definitely can get in on special teams and get my head in there and learn. I learn fast with repetitions in practice and that's going to be something that helps me out. I'll be able to get a feel for the defense. Eventually, you know, I plan on starting and having a good season as a rookie and then just kind of build off of that.
Did you grow up a Vikings fan?
I did, a little bit. I was a 49ers and a Vikings fan. I was more of a 49ers fan, but I was always paying attention to what the Vikings were doing because they were so close and they were always on TV. I was a follower and was always paying attention to the moves they were making. That's what makes it all that much sweeter is just that it's close to home and it's a new organization; new ownership. They're trying to get a new stadium built. There are a lot of exciting things going on up there and they're kind of looking for a face of the franchise right now because they lost Culpepper and Moss. I hope to go up there and make some great plays and be that guy.
Your family had to be stoked that you would be playing so close.
Yeah, (laughs) they're pumped. They were so excited. They were going to be excited no matter where I ended up, but in this situation it is so close and they're going to have the opportunity to some watch. It's going to be fun. I have an aunt that lives right there Metroplex. So, it's going to be fun to be up there.
We talked about the not knowing where you would be living making things a little unsettled. Did you think about Minnesota being a possible destination for you?
Yeah, I mean that was one of the teams that always showed a lot of interest in me. They talked to me at the combine and the linebacker coach came down for the (Iowa) pro day. They took a lot of interest the whole way through. Then, I took a visit up there. When you meet the coaching staff and you meet all of the people around that organization you can kind of get a feel that something good is going to happen. I think they have a good chance of going right back to the playoffs and competing for the NFL title. That's something that they've done year in and year out. They just haven't got over the hump. Hopefully, we can put the right pieces together this year to make a run for it.
Now, your best friend, your confidant, gets drafted in the third round by one of Minnesota's arch rivals, the Green Bay Packers. How is that sitting and have you talked to Abdul about it?
Yeah, I talked to him about it. I also took his number. (laughs) I obviously can't take an 18 number or a number like that. So, I took a natural linebacker number and that was the best available so I decided to mock my man, Abdul, by going after his number. But it's going to be fun to be able to play against him and try to knock him out on special teams and get after him a little bit. It's definitely going to be a fun experience because not only do we get to play two times no matter what every year, but we might also possibly meet in the playoffs. It's going to be a fun time to play against him and (A.J.) Hawk again, too.
It had to be strange that it worked out that the two of you ended up on rival teams.
It would have been cool to play on the same team, but obviously we knew that it wasn't going to be a very good possibility. He's in a good situation there. He'll have a chance to come in and play right away and he'll be beside a good player with Hawk. They're going to get together and have a good linebacking core, I'm sure, for years to come.
Have you agreed to a deal yet?
No, I haven't.
Is it important to you to get that done pretty quickly and painlessly? You don't seem like the holdout type.
Yeah, definitely, I'm willing to go in there and get it on the board and get it done with. I just want to get into camp and let all of my teammates know that I'm not there to be selfish. I'm there to be a team player. Minicamp starts the 12th (of May) and that's my first chance to make an impression with the teammates and the coaching staff. I'm excited for that first opportunity. Once that whole money issue gets out of the way, people tend to forget about it and just play football and that's kind of what I'm looking to do.
What will you be doing up until minicamp?
I'll be back in Iowa City training. I'll be getting everything together as far as my apartment (in Iowa City) and getting ready to move up to Minneapolis. We'll try to go up there and buy a place and get everything moved. It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks. But I'll be training and doing a lot of conditioning work trying to prepare myself for camp.
Does this location make the marriage plans easier?
It does make it a little easier because we know we're not going to be half way across the country. We're still in the Midwest, where we're both from. From Minneapolis to Chicago (where Chad's fiancé is from) is a quick flight. And it's only a four-hour drive to home for me. So, it's pretty convenient for both of us.