(AP/David J. Phillip)
DeMeco Ryans was named the 2006 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, so why wasn't he a first-round pick?
Ryans discusses his experiences through the draft process, being a rookie in the NFL, and what he expects from himself and the Texans this season.
Chris Steuber: Were you surprised that you dropped into the second round?
DeMeco Ryans: I wasn't surprised. I was projected to go in the late first
round, early second round -- it kind of fell into that territory. Watching the
draft and seeing other linebackers go before me was frustrating, you know?
CS: What were your thoughts on the Scouting Combine?
Ryans: It's different. It wasn't too bad. You have a lot of interviews, I
think I interviewed with almost every team. I had like fifteen [interviews] one
night and like thirteen [interviews] the next night. Once we got to the last day
of the workouts, I was just relieved to have that behind me, because there was
so much pressure and there is so much emphasis put into that.
CS: What was the Wonderlic test like for you?
Ryans: It's one of those things you have to do. It's a test you're not
going to know all the answers to, you just do your best. That's how I approached
it and I didn't really think twice about it. I just went in and marked what I
thought was correct and you just hope for a good score.
CS: What was the most difficult question on the test?
Ryans: There was a question like, "some fraction of some
number," I don't even remember the rest. You really don't have a lot
of time to figure things out. I think they give you like twelve minutes for 50
CS: What does the test have to do with football?
Ryans: I don't know, man. I don't know who came up with it. I don't
think it has anything to do with football. I think they want to see how fast you
think on your feet in a hostile environment. I think they want to see how
players react toward it. They want to see if you care about it and see if you
just don't mark anything as an answer, see how your decision-making is.
CS: Where were you on draft day?
Ryans: I was at my agent's house. I had two of my friends over and we
were watching the draft. We were watching the picks go by and I was like
"there goes a linebacker; there goes another one, I was like man I hope
somebody calls me soon."
CS: Were there any teams in particular that showed interest in you before the
|DeMeco Ryans tackles Julius Jones|
Tony Rodriguez, AP
Ryans: I interviewed with a few teams before the draft. I interviewed
with the Lions, Vikings, Panthers, and Redskins. The Redskins didn't have a
first-round pick, but when the others were coming up I was like, "maybe,
maybe, maybe" and nothing ever transpired. I was like damn, what's going
CS: Did anyone call you during the first round and had you thinking it was a
Ryans: One of my friends from 'Bama, Terrence Jones, he was sitting next
to me and he grabbed his cell phone and called my phone. I thought it was a
CS: When did you receive the call from the Texans?
Ryans: The Giants were on the clock and the Texans called me when the
Giants were on the clock, and they told me that they were going to pick me.
CS: What were your feelings when the Texans drafted you?
Ryans: I was really excited. Just being drafted, first off, and having
the opportunity to stay in the South and play in the warm weather, because I
don't know if anyone wants to go to one of those cold weather teams. I was just
happy to be in the South, so my family and friends could drive to see me play if
they wanted to.
CS: What was it like going to the Texans, who in the first round, drafted the
number-one overall pick Mario Williams?
Ryans: For me it was easy, because they didn't expect much from me. They
really didn't know much about me. It was easy for me, I could just go out there
and perform and just let things happen for me.
CS: What was it like learning a pro defense compared to a college defense?
Ryans: It came to me naturally once they moved me to the middle. They had
me playing outside and I always liked playing middle linebacker, but in college,
I was stuck playing strong side linebacker.
CS: Winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, what did that mean to
Ryans: It was really thrilling, man. For all those teams to pass on me in
the first round, they're pretty much saying that those players are better than
you. But when it's all said and done those teams were wrong and I am standing as
the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
CS: When you look back at your rookie season, is there one thing you'd go
back and change?
Ryans: I could have been a better leader. It was kind of tough at the
beginning, because I was a rookie trying to learn the defense and all. I was
trying to make all the calls on defense, I had a lot on my plate. I thought we
played better the more comfortable I got. Our defense made a little turnaround
after the first few games of the season. I think we got more comfortable with
each other and I was held more accountable for our success. I think I can do an
even better job this year.
CS: Did you go through any rookie hazing?
Ryans: I had to sing [the Alabama fight song] and carry some of the
veterans' bags, but it wasn't that bad.
CS: How far away are the Texans from reaching the playoffs?
Ryans: I don't think we're that far off. Last year we threw away a couple
of games. We had some mistakes. We could have easily been an eight or nine win
team, easily. I think we're there; it's just a matter of being more mentally
tough on both sides of the ball. We just have to go out there and do what we're
told during practice and show it out on the field. We have to win the close
games. We lost a lot of close games last year. I think we can turn that
around with one or two plays, and if we do that we will be right there.
CS: What's the toughest transition from having a successful rookie season and
continuing that success into your second year?
Ryans: Just to continue playing at the level I was playing at. I know
there will be a lot more eyes on me this year than last year. They know who I am
now and a lot more attention will be on me.
CS: What are your expectations for the Texans this year and for yourself?
Ryans: I expect us to be a team competing for the playoffs. I want to be
a better leader than I was last year and do my job even better. I want to be a
leader on dominating defense.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. The former publisher of NFLDraftPro.com, Chris has also covered the NFL Draft for the Eagles' official website, PhiladelphiaEagles.com.