No. 1 picks talk about past, future

One day ahead of the rookie orientation camp, the first-round draft picks met with reporters on Thursday and talked about their expectations and rumors of failed drug tests.

Upon being drafted by the Green Bay Packers, friends and first-round draft picks B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews III congratulated each other.

Then, with Matthews on the West Coast and Raji on the East Coast, they added to Wikipedia's click count.

"First, I looked where Green Bay was on the map, to find out where I would be for the next couple years," said Matthews, the USC linebacker who the Packers obtained with the 26th overall pick by trading their second-round draft choice and two third-round selections.

"After that I went to Wikipedia, started looking up the coaches, looking at their backgrounds and whatnot, and just finding ways to familiarize myself with the team so that when I came in here it wasn't such a shock. After (Los Angeles), it is obviously, but at the same time, I think we're that much more prepared."

Raji, the Boston College nose tackle who the Packers drafted with the ninth overall selection, spent his Saturday entertaining friends and family. On Sunday, he got to work learning about his new home.

"I actually sat back, went up on the Packers' Web site and got a chance to get a feel for the organization," Raji said. "I actually went on Wikipedia and looked up Green Bay to see what it was like, find some interesting facts about it."


OLB Clay Matthews III
Bill Huber/Packer Report
Raji and Matthews met with reporters on Thursday evening — including holding their jerseys for the ceremonial photo-op. On Friday, their first taste of professional football begins with the rookie orientation camp that runs through Sunday.

"I'm real giddy to get going," Matthews said. "It's been four months of just training and rumors and mock drafts and this and that, so it's nice to put that all behind us. But with all that behind us, now comes a different set of pressure, so I think we are like some kids in a candy store. We're ready to get going and start making a name for ourselves."

About those "rumors." Matthews, according to NFLDraftBible.com, tested positive for steroids at the Scouting Combine while Sports Illustrated's Web site said Raji tested positive for marijuana at the Combine. As happens in this day of instant news and wannabe reporters, the rumors spread like wildfire. News that the rumors were false didn't make quite as large of a ripple.

"Unfortunately, in years past, people have had to just wait it out and let the smoke clear, and at that time their name is damaged," Matthews said. "No matter if you come out clean, people are going to think less of you as a person."

Those character concerns might have impacted Raji on draft day. While he was clean at the Combine, he did have a positive test at Boston College. Raji was forthright when asked about it on Thursday.

"It's a shame, the positive test at BC," he said. "I'm a man, and that was a mistake that I made in the past, which is the past. It's the present, but I kind of feel that what happened or what came about with Sports Illustrated, people that know me, they know that's not what I am about. But for people that never met me, when it's your first time hearing about me, that's the perception that they get. That was kind of the thing that bothered me with that and the fact that I knew that it wasn't true."

Now, Raji and Matthews are in position to build a new legacy. There are high hopes in Packer Nation that Raji's impact in the middle will permeate through a revamped defense. The bold move up in the draft to acquire Matthews sent a thrill through the fan base.

"It's real exciting, playing in such a prestigious organization like the Packers," Raji said. "It's something you only dream about. When I got the call, I was shocked that the day has finally come. I know a lot is expected of me, and I'm willing to work to get where I need to be to help this team win."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.


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