For BC linemen, waiting's the hardest part

April, 25, 2013
4/25/13
4:20
PM ET
To watch, or not to watch?

That is the question for potential late-round NFL draft picks like Boston College linemen Emmett Cleary and John Wetzel.

Whether ‘tis better to sit in front of the TV and stew, or to get out and find something to do.

Both Cleary and Wetzel were invited to the combine in February, where they were poked and prodded, questioned and tested. In Scouts Inc.’s full seven-round mock draft, both are projected to be drafted in the final round.

“It’s definitely been interesting,” Cleary said Thursday of the pre-draft process. “It’s been great to kind of go through the whole thing and learn how to comport yourself and treat yourself as a job applicant for the first time.”

The strangest part of the combine for Cleary was during the testing at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.

“It’s so quiet in that dome,” the 6-foot-6, 316-pound left tackle said. “Watching on TV for a couple years, you always expected this is the big thing. Then you get up to the start line and the whole NFL is looking at you ….”

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Wetzel, a 6-foot-7, 315-pound right tackle. “I was training at ING in Florida for two months before, and just spent so much time preparing for the things in the combine. And then when you get there, the first two days it was a lot of waiting. You just want to get out there and get it done.

“Then the last day, it just went by so fast. It was a great experience. I enjoyed talking to all the coaches and meeting a bunch of new people there that I’ll be playing with in the NFL later on.”

Neither Cleary nor Wetzel knows exactly what to expect this weekend.

“I heard a lot of stuff,” Wetzel said of where he might be selected. “I heard I could possibly even go [from] three to seven, within that range. … Some teams think real highly of me and really want me and some teams might have a different perspective.”

Cleary doesn’t expect his phone to ring with good news until Saturday.

“I think it’s a crapshoot, honestly,” he said. “I’ll be a late-rounder. Regardless, it’ll be either Saturday or free agency.”

Whatever happens, the Illinois native is keeping his eyes on the horizon.

“My focus is on making a team and making the best of the situation that I have,” he said. “I don’t think [whether I’m drafted or not] really changes my outlook.”

For now, there is no backup plan.

“Geez, I hope I don’t have to worry about that for a couple years,” Cleary said. “This is something I want to do so I’m gonna chase this dream for as long as I reasonably can.”

As offensive linemen from Boston College, Cleary and Wetzel both said they feel some added pressure to continue the tradition the school has established at the position.

“You want to do everything you can to keep that going,” Wetzel said. “It’s something we pride ourselves on. We still think we have some good linemen who can continue that tradition of O-line U at Boston College.”

Anthony Castonzo, who first Wetzel and then Cleary replaced at left tackle in Chestnut Hill, was the latest high-profile lineman to make the successful transition from college to the pros when he was taken in the first round by Indianapolis in 2011 and started as a rookie. Also included in the lineage are players like Marc Colombo, Jeremy Trueblood and former Patriots center Dan Koppen.

That the Eagles have struggled in recent seasons, going 4-8 in 2011 and 2-10 in 2012 under former coach Frank Spaziani, just adds to the pressure.

“Our year last year was terrible,” Cleary said, “but we’re hoping to prove that we’re just as good as those guys who’ve gone before.”

All the workouts now done, the interviews finished, Cleary and Wetzel just have to decide whether or not to watch.

Cleary said he’ll probably watch the first round, but he’s not sure about Friday or Saturday. He said he doesn’t want to be “stuck in front of the TV all day.”

Wetzel, meanwhile, said he might get in a workout instead of watching Thursday night. But the Pittsburgh, Penn., native has a different plan for Rounds 2-7.

“The next two days I’ll be in front of the TV with my family watching,” Wetzel said. “And if I get picked, after that I’ll have a bunch of family and friends over to celebrate.”

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

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