The buildup to the 2014 NFL Draft, especially with the draft pushed back two weeks from its traditional late April time slot, seemed to take forever. Now that the draft is complete the process of becoming NFL players is moving at light speed for Weston Richburg and the other New York Giants' rookies.
Richburg, a center taken in the second round by the Giants 43rd overall, took a few minutes out of his schedule to chat via phone on Tuesday night, describing the entire experience of becoming a Giant as "a whirlwind."
"It's a complete scenery change for me, coming from a small town in Texas and going straight to one of the biggest cities in the country. It's been a big change.
"Then coming here and being kind of thrown into the fire with no rookie mini-camps. The draft was so late, we're right in with all the vets trying to pick up the offense as quick as I can.
"It's definitely been a whirlwind."
Wearing Shaun O'Hara's old No. 60 -- which he says will change -- Richburg hit the field along with other Giants rookies for the first time on Tuesday. Richburg said he "got some good reps" during his first professional practice.
"I've got a lot of learning to do," Richburg said. "I'm gonna try to do it as fast as I can so I can be ready to come in and contribute as soon as possible."
Richburg was the first center selected in the draft, an honor he has admitted he wanted.
"If you're not trying to be the best you're really not helping yourself. I always wanted to be the best center in the country. I think by being drafted as the first center that says something about my play," Richburg said. "It's just a sense of pride to be that first center taken off the board. Just really happy the Giants thought I was worthy of that."
After the Giants drafted Richburg, GM Jerry Reese said the Bushland, Tx., native "fits the mold of what we want."
What is that mold? Toughness. Intelligence. Leadership. Talent. Those four things pretty much sum it up.
Richburg showed the toughness by snapping with his left hand in 2011 after breaking his right hand. Intelligence? He already has a degree in animal science from Colorado State and is pursuing a second degree. He is also a member of the National Honor Society. Leaderhship? Richburg was a team captain and a player Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain referred to in a pre-draft interview as "a huge leader for us and this football team." Talent? Richburg started every game in four years at Colorado State. He had 39 blocks that resulted in touchdowns. And the Giants saw enough to make him the first center taken in the draft.
"Richburg is a throwback. He's a football player. He is smart, competitive, a good athlete and he's going to give you everything he's got every play," said Giants Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross. "You can just tell a guy by watching them, especially with an offensive lineman in regards to their IQ, how he plays, his savvy and his instincts. With centers you look for how they are pointing guys out or some centers just put their head down and snap the ball. Those are some things Richburg clearly does on tape, and being around him and his interview at the combine was tremendous. The guy scored a 31 on the Wonderlic. This guy is a smart guy."
Some have questioned the level of competition Richburg faced at Colorado State. The Mountain West Conference is, of course, not one of the premier football conferences in the country. In pre-draft media bios released by the NFL, McElwain answered that by saying simply "He's handled all the guys we've gone against."
The Giants think he will handle the guys at the NFL level just fine, too.