Four Sun Devils Are Drafted on 2nd day

For some of the former ASU players the spot they got drafted at and/or the team that selected them was a bit of a surprise. Nonetheless, Justin Tryon, Robert James, Ryan Torain and Josh Barrett all share the pure joy of being drafted by their respective NFL teams.

Many NFL draft pundits have downgraded the stock of 5-9 190 cornerback Justin Tryon because of his size. The Washington Redskins obviously didn't share that opinion and selected the former College of Canyons (Calif.) JC transfer at the 25th pick of the fourth round (124th overall selection). As a senior, he earned All-Pac 10 second-team choice and started all 26 games in the maroon and gold. In 2007 he was ranked fifth on the team in tackles with 56, collected three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, and had a team-high 16 pass deflections.

"It feels wonderful," said Tryon after being drafted. "I'm a Redskin now and I can't complain. They really laid low and I don't think I ever talked to them until ten seconds before they picked me. So I was real surprised, but I'm very happy too."

Tryon stated that he wasn't disappointed with being selected in the fourth round, and realizes that the knocks on his size have probably contributed to that placement. "I know I have to prove the critics wrong," he said. "So if they keep on talking I'm gonna have to shut them up."

Coming under scrutiny, was a common theme with the three other outgoing Arizona State seniors who drafted today.

Linebacker Robert James, 5-10 220, was also being criticized because of his size. Furthermore, he did perform poorly in both the NFL combine and in the Pro Day on the ASU campus. Yet, the Phoenix Maryvale High School standout wasn't nicknamed "The Beast" for nothing during his Sun Devil tenure.

James, a first-team All-Pac 10 selection, paced ASU with 106 tackles in 2007. He also tallied 9.5 tackles and four interceptions, second best on the squad in both categories. It is hard not to be amazed by all the hurdles he had to overcome in the last six years to reach this moment – being drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the third pick in the fifth-round picks (138th overall selection).

The linebacker, who actually was recruited as a defensive back in the 2002 recruiting class, didn't qualify out of high school. He spent the fall semester of that year trying to gain admittance, which he received the following year. In 2006 James was battling various injuries. A neck injury caused him to miss the last five games of that campaign. In 2007, he suffered a concussion in the first tackle of spring practice and consequently was held out the rest of the 15-practice session. In between, his newborn son had health issues of his own that required the linebacker to spend time with him in the hospital, and caused him to miss several practices.

"It's been a long road," said James on Sunday afternoon. "I feel blessed to be selected by the Atlanta Falcons. They told me on Saturday night that they were gonna pick me today, and because they had three picks in the third round I thought I was gonna get picked then. They told me that even though I didn't have good workouts; my game film spoke for itself."

"They said they want to play me at WILL linebacker. I'll play defensive line if they want me to (laughs)."

James admitted of being a little disappointed that he wasn't selected in the third round, given the Falcons' several available picks there. "I was watching the highlights of all these linebackers who got picked up before me," James recalled, "and I was saying ‘what are those teams looking at?' I just went to the gym to work out, and when I got there, the Falcons called and said that I got selected. I thought the Colts, the Giants and the Seahawks might pick me up because they showed a lot of interest. I guess you just never know, but I'm very excited that the Falcons picked me up."

Just like James, the Falcons are trying to overcome adversity and the negativity that has plagued them last year. Thus, he feels that he and the team are good fit. "They're starting a new chapter with a new coach," he noted. "Everybody is coming in there ready to compete and prove themselves. I appreciate the chance they're giving me and I'm gonna show then they made the right choice."

Just one spot below him, fellow Sun Devil Ryan Torain (who said: "I'm sure Robert James is gonna call me and talk smack about getting drafted higher.") was drafted by the Denver Broncos. The 6-0 222 JC transfer from Butler (Kan.) is arguably the best running back to play for ASU this decade. He registered 1,229 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in 2006. Last season his campaign was cut short by a Lisfranc foot injury, and was able to play in just the first six games, where he averaged 5.0 yards a carry and had 553 yards and five scores.

Naturally, his draft stock has been hampered for a while due to the aforementioned injury. Yet, he was still receiving interest from several NFL teams as a mid-round selection, and the Denver Broncos who are noted for drafting quality running backs made him their fifth round section.

"I can't wait to get there and start playing," said Torain. "I didn't fly out there and work out like I did for other teams, but they did contact me a few times.

Torain understands why he did get drafted in the spot that he did, but really hasn't given much thought to that fact. "I'm just happy that I was able to rehab from my injury, be 100% healthy and put myself in a situation to get drafted," he said. "Now playing in the NFL is for real and I'm gonna go out there and give everything I have."

Joining him as a Broncos' draftee is Josh Barrett, who was selected with the 13th pick of the seventh round (220th overall selection). To a lesser extent, injuries have adversely affected the safety as well. Following a junior year where led ASU with 82 tackles, Barrett totaled 38 stops in 2007. He did however tie for second on the squad with seven pass breakups.

While his senior game film was probably not overly impressive, his NFL combine performance definitely turned some heads. The 6-2 225 Barrett posted the best 40-yard time among all safeties in that event – clocking at a 4.35, and had a solid showing in his position drills there.

"I'm pretty excited and playing with ‘The Train' is Denver is very cool," said Barrett. "The Broncos weren't talking to me a lot before the draft. I didn't really have them on my radar, but obviously they had me on theirs. That's the only thing that matters."

Just like Torain, he wasn't disappointed with a relatively low daft slot, and was naturally thankful for the opportunity. "Just to get drafted, that's all you ask for," he stated. "All you need is an opportunity to play in this league, and I got that now. It's up to me to go out there, do what I'm capable of doing and prove that even though I'm a seventh-round pick, I'm still one of the best safeties on the team."

The quartet of Sun Devils join center Mike Pollak who was selected in the second round by the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, as the five ASU players chosen in the 2008 NFL draft – the most the Sun Devil players drafted in one year since the 2000 draft (six players).

On Sunday night two other Sun Devil players were picked up as free agents. Wide receiver Rudy Burgess was signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, while defensive tackle Michael Marquardt inked with the Cincinnati Bengals.

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