Who were the biggest winners? If you go on quantity alone, Louisville's numbers dwarfed all other Big East schools, especially Rutgers and Cincinnati. If you go by highest picks, South Florida and Pittsburgh warrant mention. But sheer numbers of selections or order of picks don't tell the whole story.
From the standpoint of respect and national perception, South Florida made out well. While the Bulls didn't send the most players to the NFL via the draft, they certainly had two players who should make an impact at the pro level.
Mike Jenkins, a lockdown cornerback, was one of two Big East players drafted in the first round when he was picked 25th overall by the Dallas Cowboys. It's a bit ironic that the Cowboys selected Jenkins on the same day that they traded for corner Adam "Pacman" Jones, as both had run-ins with the law in recent years.
Jenkins' counterpart on the other corner, Trae Williams, went to Jacksonville in the fifth round (159th overall). Williams does not have the same speed as Jenkins, but his coverage skills are outstanding.
The Panthers can't make a bowl game, but they can still churn out pro-caliber offensive linemen. Pitt had both offensive tackles selected in the draft. Jeff Otah, a bruiser at 6-foot-6, 340 pounds, was the top Big East player taken in the draft when Carolina selected him in the first round with the 19th overall pick. Otah is one of those players you hear about who didn't start playing football until his senior year in high school. He played two years at Pitt as a juco transfer but turned enough heads in 24 starts to get first-round money.
Tackle Mike McGlynn was a fourth-round pick (109th overall) of the Philadelphia Eagles. McGlynn is a solid offensive lineman but not dominant. He and Otah were joined by cornerback Cox Kennard (251st overall pick by Buffalo in Round 7) as the Pitt representatives in the draft.
Louisville possessed enough talent on each side of the ball the past couple of years to justify five NFL draft picks. I'm on the fence regarding the Cardinals' success in the draft, mainly because their players were selected so late. Calling Louisville a winner in this case engenders the same feeling as when UL won against Middle Tennessee in early 2007: it may be a harbinger of bad times on the horizon in northern Kentucky.
Quarterback Brian Brohm, the class of the Big East the last two seasons, fell to the late second round when the Green Bay Packers picked him with the 56th overall selection. Brohm was a can't-miss first-rounder heading into his senior season at UL, but a missed bowl game and a disappointing combine sank him.
Speedy wideout Harry Douglas was a value pick when Atlanta took him in the third round (84th overall). He went ahead of fellow receiver and one-man wrecking crew Mario Urrutia, a big man at 6-6 who fell to the seventh round (246th overall) when he was snatched up by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Other Louisville players going in the draft were Gary Barnidge (Round 6, 141st overall to Carolina), a rangy tight end who wreaked havoc on RU in 2007; and lineman Breno Giacomini, who went to the Green Bay Packers with the 150th pick in the fifth round.
This is one of a two-part series. The next installment will feature Big East losers in the NFL draft.
BE Teams Who "Fared Well" In Draft
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