The first round has come and gone in the 2024 NFL Draft, and more players will be chosen Friday and Saturday to round out draft classes for all 32 teams. Even undrafted free agents will find a home in hopes they can make a roster after training camp. 

Yes, this is a time to celebrate the realization of a dream come true. But the transition from college to the NFL is one of the hardest to make in sports, no matter your draft stock. 

For Arizona Cardinals star quarterback Kyler Murray, expectations were sky-high when he was selected first overall in the 2019 Draft. It’s the position USC’s Caleb Williams finds himself in with the Chicago Bears.

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Kyler Murray looks on field

Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals before a game against the Los Angeles Rams at State Farm Stadium Nov. 26, 2023, in Glendale, Ariz. (Ryan Kang/Getty Images)

Whether a player is a quarterback, wide receiver, offensive lineman or any other position, teams expect their draft picks to succeed. Speaking with Fox News Digital, Murray offered some advice for those incoming rookies looking to make an immediate impact based on his own experience getting acclimated to the league. 

“As far as the league goes, the off-the-field stuff and being in the professional building. Carrying yourself the right way at all times. Obviously, as quarterbacks, we naturally already have that ingrained in us,” Murray said, while discussing his new partnership with Recover 180. 

“That adjustment, the schedule and all that stuff, for me, the biggest thing was just college and the NFL were completely different in that way. 

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“If you’re not self-motivated, I feel like the NFL can eat you up. You’re not being spoon-fed, you’re not being babied anymore. It’s not all on you. But if you wake up on Sunday, and you’re not in the team hotel, the camaraderie and everything is different. You’re playing with guys who are 10 years older than you. They got families. You’re not hanging out all the time. It’s just a lot different.”

Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown agrees with Murray, though he says it’s easier for guys drafted in the first round to have more of a sense of security considering the millions they’re making on rookie deals. 

St. Brown was drafted in the fourth round of the 2021 draft out of USC, and he went viral because he can name every wide receiver taken before him that year. Fox News Digital asked if he can still do so after playing three years in the league.

“Does a brown bear poop in the woods?” he responded.

The motivation of proving to 31 teams they got it wrong leaving him on the draft board led to St. Brown signing a four-year, $120 million contract extension with $77 million guaranteed.

No matter how motivation comes, it goes a long way, especially for those who will be taken on the second and third days of the draft. 

Amon-Ra St. Brown points for first down

Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) of the Detroit Lions celebrates after a play against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of the NFC championship at Levi’s Stadium Jan. 28, 2024, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

“When you get drafted later, or even go undrafted, you might not even last up until training camp,” St. Brown said. “You might get cut after training camp. You might make it six weeks into the league, then they decide to cut you. So, it’s a different mentality. 

“But having that self-motivation is everything because now you have money – all you ever wanted was to go to the NFL. But, for some guys, they don’t just want to go to the NFL. They want to stay in the NFL. They want to do great things, whether that’s win Super Bowls, make it to the playoffs, Pro Bowls, whatever it is. Some guys have different motivation, I think, and that’s the guys who really make it in this league. They have greater aspirations than just making it to the NFL.”

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle also wants these players to remember it doesn’t matter where you’re drafted. He was a fifth-round pick in 2017, and he’s now one of the best tight ends in the game with a contract extension already on the books. 

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“The only thing that really matters is how you show up and what you do every single day,” he said. “As long as you’re consistent, as long as you’re your best self every single day and you put your best self on tape, you’re respectful in the building, you got a chance to go out there and achieve your dream.”

Like any professional sport, overnight success is rare. Players may not realize their full potential until years later. St. Brown used Carolina Panthers receiver Adam Thielen as an example, pointing out how it took him two years before he took off with the Minnesota Vikings in 2016. And Thielen was an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota St. 

There are many more examples of late-round or undrafted players finding their way years after breaking into the league, but the point still remains the same today. St. Brown elaborated. 

George Kittle after a TD

George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after a touchdown catch during the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium Oct. 8, 2023, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

“The cream always rises to the top,” he said. “It means no matter where you get picked, whether it’s the first pick of the draft or the last pick — like [49ers quarterback] Brock Purdy — or anywhere in between or undrafted, I think, at the end of the day, the best players will always come to light. Whether that’s in a year, whether that’s in two years. Some guys’ processes are different.”

Murray said he was more prepared than others considering he knew he was a potential first overall selection. 

He thanked his coach at Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley, and for sitting behind Baker Mayfield, who went No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Browns the year Murray won the Heisman Trophy.

But while discipline and following rules are paramount to rookie success in year one, Murray doesn’t want players walking on eggshells either. If players get too tight, mistakes are made. 

“I would tell all rookies, ‘Be yourself,'” Murray explained. “And what I mean by that is don’t be the guy coming in – you want to be humble, and you want to be observant of everything and be listening to everybody. But, at the same time, you understand what got you here, who you are as a player, who you are as a person. Be that guy because that’s the guy who got you drafted. 

Kyler Murray looks to pass during a Cardinals game

Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals looks to pass during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field Dec. 31, 2023, in Philadelphia. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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“I see far too often guys come into the league, and they’re too wide-eyed and too hesitant to make plays. What got you here is why you got drafted and what these people want. Don’t lose the swag, continue to be you and go play your game.”

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