There’s one major reason why it’s hard for me to pick a favorite NFL team: the NFL Draft. Actually the Draft’s influence on my interests would be the reason. We always want to know where the Auburn players land.
I’ve been watching the Draft for years. Thank God for ESPN. In college we would tune in each Spring to see where the Auburn players went. Back in those days as the Dye era was closing and the Buster Brown era was starting there weren’t too many Tigers being called on Draft Day. So when there were a few who were expected or predicted to go, we watched and cheered right from our living room. It kind of stuck.
Although as the years have gone by we don’t watch as intently as we used to. At least one TV runs 24/7 on Draft weekend and now with the Internet, a browser runs with a Draft tracker. This weekend wasn’t any different. Even as I did homework yesterday, the Draft was up in HD in the family room and my eyes would gander every so often to follow the rounds.
Auburn has had some great NFL players. There’s no doubt over the next 10 or so years some of those will end up in the Hall of Fame. Steve Wallace the great O’ Lineman of the 49ers. Fred Beasley (I saw him play in high school). Tony Richardson, the longtime FB of the Chiefs. Current players Chris Gray in Seattle. Kendall Simmons in Pittsburgh. Wayne Gandy. Willie Anderson. Takeo Spikes. On and on…
There’s many a great offensive lineman to come out of Auburn as you note from the above list. That’s why we start our notes with King Dunlap. Salut to Panovec that Dunlap is an Eagle. I read the team brief on Dunlap at the team’s site and can tell you they didn’t pull any punches. It almost sounded like a Jets fan wrote the story. Yes King Dunlap didn’t have the season we all would have liked him to have. Injuries, young studs comin’ up, you name it. But King is a monster and I’m sure now that he’s out of the little boys sandbox he’ll enjoy eating Giants and Redskins for lunch.
Staying on the line we turn our attentions to Pat Sims who remains a Tiger, a Bengal that is. The Bengals continue to draft Auburn players. Sims will join Rudi Johnson and Kenny Irons. Sims played every game in 2006 and was a starter for his senior year as his bio indicates. You have to consider this is the norm at AU where the Tigers usually have great depth and are loaded with talent. You want to know Sims? Just as Daryl McFadden and Felix Jones.
Staying with defense I was excited to see both Patrick Lee and Jonathon Wilhite get drafted, and by winning franchises at that. Lee went to Green Bay in the second round. Patrick Lee is a physical corner and the Packers like it. He’s not bad in coverage either and he learns fast. I wish I had a dime for every time Wilhite’s name was called over the last two years. He’s got a ton of game time experience and like Lee he learns fast. I like Wilhite’s comments after being drafted – an appreciative young man.
Lastly there’s Quentin Groves. “Q” was definitely the vocal leader of the Tigers last year. He entered the year on the cusp of becoming the Tigers’ all time sack leader but ended up playing a little outside linebacker. Again the Tigers are so loaded on defense that the coaches felt they needed the best players on the field. That meant Groves played, but not as much DE as he did in 2006. I like the story from the Jaguars web site introducing the two DE’s in Jacksonville. The Jags take the flamboyant Florida Gator in round 1 but the article clearly indicates Groves is the fighter, and worker.
And… just checking the wires we note there were four other Tigers taken on free-agency. And we have a Tiger now becoming a Ram. The Rams should be happy to have Josh Thompson who is a run-stop specialist. I think they need that. Carl Stewart gets reunited with Carnell Williams in Tampa? Oh my.
We look forward to seeing these and all the newest Tiger Alum/NFL rookies in 2008 and beyond. We wish them continued success and a big War DAMN Eagle!