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Draft Day Memories: Nate Kaeding

Posted Apr 20, 2009

Leading up to Saturday’s NFL Draft, several current Chargers will recount their draft-day experiences with Chargers.com. Appropriately, Nate Kaeding, a third-round pick in 2004, will kick off our series.

I’m about as impatient of a person as you can find, so I just wanted to kind of distract myself on draft day.  I didn’t want to sit in front of the TV all day, so I put together a group of about eight people to go play golf.  We were going to play at a little nine-hole course I’d worked at since I was in junior high.  I wanted to get out with my friends and take my mind off of it. 

Unfortunately the Iowa weather didn’t cooperate.  It was in the 40’s with wind and sleet so we got stuck in the clubhouse.  Friends and family just kept on showing up and the impromptu “party” grew bigger and bigger.

You hear a lot of talk, but you never know just where you’re going to land, especially as a kicker.  I’d heard that I could go in the late second round, but I really didn’t know if I was going to get drafted on the first day. 

It was important for me to get taken on that first day because that’s where I anticipated myself going and where I wanted to go.  It’s always good from a salary standpoint and a pride standpoint.  Plus, 12 or so more hours of waiting would have been painful. 

When the Chargers made the trade with the Giants that sent Eli Manning to New York for Philip Rivers and draft picks, I started to hear that I could be headed to San Diego.  People said, “the Chargers just picked up an extra pick in the third round.  We think they’re hot on you.  That’s pretty much a lock if Kansas City doesn’t call in the second round.”

I was told the Chiefs were close to picking me at the end of the second round.  When their pick came across the ticker and I saw that they passed, my agent called me.  We didn’t really even have time to react though because about a minute later I had to get off the phone with him to take a call from A.J. Smith congratulating me on becoming a Charger.

I remember feeling a sense of relief.  I stared at my phone for six hours and once I finally got that call, it was certainly a great thing.

The moments after I was picked were a whirlwind.  I talked to a few coaches and then the team was trying to book a flight for me to come to San Diego the next morning.  They asked me what jersey number I wanted and had a lot of logistical questions.   

Getting drafted instantly brings a ton of changes.  For me it was unique because I was born and raised in the same city in Iowa.  All of the sudden, I’m thrust into a new position with a lot of money.  It was my first time away from home, on the plane the next morning. It was one of the more unique experiences of my life.  It was great to get drafted on the first day and end up in such an awesome place. 

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