Courtesy: Associated Press
Fisher Makes History as the Top Pick in the NFL Draft

NEW YORK – Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher realized a lifelong dream and, at the same time, made history on Thursday night when he was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs with the the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. The All-American offensive tackle etched his name in the record books when he took the stage at the renowned Radio City Music Hall in New York, becoming the highest NFL draft pick in CMU and Mid-American Conference history.

After his name was called, Fisher made his way to the stage, donned a red and white hat, and, while holding a Chiefs jersey bearing the No. 1, carried out a first round draft day tradition by getting his photo taken with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

"I can't even process what's happening right now," Fisher said. "This is a dream come true, the fact that I was the No. 1 pick. I can't even understand what's going on right now, but what an honor. What an honor. A great opportunity."

His selection at No. 1 completes a storybook odyssey that began on February 4, 2009 when Fisher, a lightly recruited, lanky 6-8, 250 lb. prospect from Stoney Creek High School in Rochester Hills, Mich., signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at Central Michigan. Fisher came to the CMU campus a fledgling offensive lineman and, when he left four years later, was considered to be one of the elite college football players in the nation at any position.

Following a standout senior season, over the course of which he allowed just one sack, Fisher’s stock skyrocketed in January when he dominated the competition in practices leading up to the Senior Bowl, causing NFL watchers to deem him the best player at the event. A month later, he solidified his status as a sure-fire top 10 pick with an impressive performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Soon thereafter, he began gaining recognition as a potential No. 1 draft choice.  

Fisher further showcased his talents to NFL player personnel at CMU Pro Day and then during private workouts with various NFL teams. The Chiefs demonstrated their high level of interest by traveling head coach Andy Reid, general manager John Dorsey, and offensive line coaches Andy Heck and Eugene Chung to Mount Pleasant in late March to meet with and work out Fisher. In the face of such intense scrutiny, Fisher only continued to rise on teams’ draft boards, setting the stage for his historic evening.

“I couldn’t be more excited for Eric,” said CMU head coach Dan Enos. “It’s extremely gratifying to see how his toughness, determination and focus have made him the player he is today and we are glad to be a part of that process. We are proud to have had him in our Chippewa Football program and look forward to his continued success.”

Fisher’s selection marks the first time that a player from a non-automatic qualifier school has been taken at No. 1 overall since 2005 when quarterback Alex Smith from Utah, which was then a member of the Mountain West Conference, was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. Ironically, one of Fisher’s main tasks will be to protect Smith, who was traded to the Chiefs in the offseason.

The highest a MAC player had previously been selected in the NFL Draft was No. 7; a distinction that belonged to Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich when he was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003. Among current members of the MAC, Bowling Green back Bernie Casey went the highest, at No. 9, to the San Francisco 49ers in 1961. In the modern era, Miami (Ohio) quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (2004, Pittsburgh Steelers) and Toledo defensive tackle Dan Williams (1993, Denver Broncos) were both selected at No. 11.

Fisher is the second CMU player to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. He follows in the footsteps of All-Pro offensive lineman Joe Staley, with whom Fisher has commonly been compared, who set the standard in 2007 when he was chosen in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers at No. 28. In all, 34 Chippewas have been drafted by NFL teams, dating back to 1946 when the Detroit Lions selected running back Ben Wall in the 18th round.

“(Fisher’s selection at No. 1) shows people where the program really is and what you can become if you come to Central Michigan,” said CMU offensive line coach Mike Cummings. “If you play offensive line at CMU, you can be a first round pick. You can get a degree; Eric Fisher is an engineering major and he is a first round pick. You can do whatever you want at Central Michigan.”

Fisher will join former Chippewa linebacker Frank Zombo on the Chiefs’ roster. Zombo, a member of Green Bay’s Super Bowl XLV championship team, signed a free agent contract with Kansas City in early April.

The 2013 NFL Draft will continue on Friday, April 26 (6:30 p.m) with rounds 2-3. The draft will conclude on Saturday, April 27 when rounds 4-7 are held (12 p.m.). ESPN and the NFL Network will provide complete coverage of days two and three. CMU safety Jahleel Addae, offensive lineman Darren Keyton, and wide receiver Cody Wilson are also receiving mention as potential draft selections.