Where will the Spartans go in the NFL Draft?

Saturday is the most anticipated NFL draft day in years for San Jose State fans. More former Spartans then ever look to be taken this year. Inside Sparta football experts Mike Morgan, Phil Paulsen, and Scott Cooley give their thoughts on where each will be selected.

Millions of dollars will be guaranteed. Cell phones will eagerly anticipate calls. Franchise players will begin to form.

This is the NFL Draft and it will commence on Saturday, April 25th.

Who will be this year's Tom Brady? Who will be this class's Ryan Leaf? So many storylines to tell, but San Jose State may have one of the most memorable in school history.

Last year at the Draft, Spartan cornerback and two-time All-American Dwight Lowery was selected in the fourth round (113th overall) by the Jets. Lowery started 10 games for New York, and left an impressionable mark on the NFL during his rookie campaign. He compiled 64.0 tackles, 15 pass breakups, five forced fumbles and an interception.

The NFL Draft placed a pair of San Jose State wide receivers on big league teams in 2007.

John Broussard was taken in the seventh round (229th overall) by Jacksonville. After one season with the Jaguars, where his first NFL reception was a 47-yard touchdown, Broussard was released and has since been on the New York Giants and Chicago Bears practice squads.

James Jones was the highest Spartan draftee since 2001. He was grabbed in the third round (78th overall) of the '07 Draft by Green Bay. During his rookie season Jones teamed up with Brett Favre, and recorded 47 catches, 676 yards and two TDs. Injuries hampered Jones his sophomore season, only playing limited time in 10 games, but his NFL outlook is good.

Only two years removed from San Jose State's fourth Big West Conference Championship in 1981 has the program seen at least three Spartans graduate to the pinnacle of professional football in the same draft class. That year ('83), cornerback Gill Byrd led the pack as the 22nd overall selection by the San Diego Chargers, and he would be followed by four teammates.

But this year's class could be special. Defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert and cornerbacks Coye Francies and Christopher Owens are all projected to go in the first handful of rounds.

If that does happen, the event would mark the first time since the NFL transitioned to a seven-round draft that San Jose State would have three players taken in the first seven rounds.

Below, Inside Sparta football analysts provide their picks on where each of the Spartans will be selected in this year's NFL Draft.

Mike Morgan - Inside Sparta Senior Editor Picks

DL Jarron Gilbert - To be selected in the first round (32nd overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Should he not be selected by them, the Oakland Raiders will take him with their second round pick (No. 40 overall).

CB Coye Francies - To be selected in fourth round (103rd overall) by the St. Louis Rams.

CB Christopher Owens - To be selected in fourth round (123rd overall) by the Baltimore Ravens.

Phil Paulsen - Inside Sparta Football Editor Picks

DL Jarron Gilbert - My guess is that Gilbert will go late second round to either the Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans or Arizona Cardinals, but definitely late second.

CB Coye Francies - As for Coye, I see him going late in third round (would have been early to middle third round had he run a better 40-time at the combines and pro day). Look for the Panthers, New England Patriots, or Chicago Bears to go after Coye if he is still around when they pick in the third.

CB Christopher Owens - Owens I think drops to the fifth or sixth round mainly on his size and speed. While a little faster then Francies, Owens will not be high on most team's radars.

Note: I look for two other players, Jeff Schweiger and David Richmond to sign as free agents with Schweiger making a practice squad and Richmond not making a roster this year. I do see Richmond making a Canadian team or a team like the SaberCats if he is so inclined. I also could see Yonus Davis trying out for the 'Cats or a Canadian team as well. In conclusion, I think Jarron goes where he should, and Coye and Owens get hurt by the old SJS reputation or lack thereof and the weaker competition SJS plays excuse. It would be nice to see four drafted with Schweiger sneaking into round six or seven and Owens and Coye making it into the first three rounds or at worst the fourth round.

Scott Cooley - Inside Sparta Contributing Analyst Picks

DL Jarron Gilbert - Although Gilbert said the Lions fleece he was wearing at Spring Practice was swag from a personal workout, I think it was a sign of things to come. The Lions have a plethora of needs to address after an 0-16 season, and should be able fill some of those holes with three selections in the first 33 picks.

Detroit is in negotiations with Matthew Stafford as the No. 1 overall pick. He would solidify the franchise's future at that position. With the 20th overall selection I think the Lions will either grab some insurance with an OT to protect Stafford's blindside, or go with USC LB Brian Cushing.

The third immediate area of concern for Detroit is defensive tackle. After the 2007 season, the Lions lost Pro Bowl DT Shaun Rogers. The franchise tag was slapped on DT Cory Redding prior to 2008, but after an injury-plagued season he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks. Their other stud DT, Shaun Cody, tested free agency and signed a three-year deal with the Houston Texans.

Jarron Gilbert will be taken as the first pick in the second round (33rd overall) by Detroit, where he will hope to have the immense success his predecessors did.

CB Coye Francies - I have Francies slipping to a round a little later than he probably should, but in the nearly the same place Dwight Lowery was taken. Although, Francies might get a boost from teams reminiscing, "Lowery was picked late for his talent, look how good he's turned out to be and we missed our chance with him."

But my prediction stands and I believe Francies will be taken by the Buccaneers in the middle of the fourth round (120th overall).

Jon Gruden and Monte Kiffin always preached defense in Tampa Bay, imposing the "Tampa Cover 2" scheme. Veteran CB Ronde Barber has been a stalwart in that defense, but at 34 years of age he isn't getting any younger.

Phillip Buchanon was snatched up by the Lions in the free agent pool, and CB Aqib Talib is a promising young player who enjoyed an outstanding rookie season in 2008. The Bucs will make Francies the heir apparent to Barber and hope one day he and Talib will run the show.

CB Christopher Owens - I am projecting Owens to be selected in the fifth round (173rd overall) by Tennessee. We all know how defensive-minded Jeff Fisher is and he will be looking to load up on that side of the ball with the Titans' latter round picks.

Nick Harper will be 35 at the beginning of next season so his playing days are numbered. But Owens is a guy who can sit on the sidelines for a year or so, learn from a veteran like Harper and Fisher will ultimately mold him into what the team needs him to be.




Scott Cooley is a Contributing Analyst to Inside Sparta. You may contact Scott with any questions, comments, or tips at scottwcooley@gmail.com


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