Redding, Dockery, Simms, Babers Join NFL Ranks

DE <B>Cory Redding </B>(Detroit Lions), OG <B>Derrick Dockery </B>(Washington Redskins) and <B>Chris Simms </B>(Tampa Bay Buccaneers) were selected in the NFL Draft&#146;s third round Saturday while CB <B>Rod Babers </B>(New York Giants) was picked up in the fourth round Sunday.

Texas has had at least one pick in a NFL-record 66 consecutive drafts. Babers selection gave Texas its most draft picks since six Longhorns were chosen in the 1997 draft.

Redding was the first Longhorn taken when the Lions made him their second pick in the third round (No. 66 overall). The Lombardi Award finalist said he had no qualms about being selected so late on Saturday.

"I really had no expectations," Redding said. "I kept my mind open and kept patient about when I'd go. I was watching TV, heard my name and that's all I wanted to see. Whenever you set goals, the first thing you need is vision. You have to see it. I saw myself playing college and in the NFL. I saw myself there but couldn't see the colors, couldn't see the building, but I knew I was going to do it. I had the determination and the drive. I had to do this. I love the game too much."

Redding finished his career with 22 QB sacks (tied for No. 10 in UT history) and 57 TFLs (No. 2 in UT history). He earned first-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation and was a second-team Associated Press All-American after posting 76 tackles and a team-leading TFLs (24/No. 3 on UT's single-season list) as a senior.

After a relatively quiet start (statistically) in 2002, Redding recorded a sack in each of the final eight games of his career and was named the Cotton Bowl Defensive MVP following Texas’ 35-20 win over LSU. He was also a finalist for the inaugural Hendricks Award.

"Cory is a dedicated, hard-working player who brings tremendous enthusiasm to the game," head coach Mack Brown said. "He's the ultimate team leader and they're going to love him in Detroit."

An added bonus for Redding is that he joins former teammate DT Shaun Rogers in Detroit.

"(Shaun is) my boy and we've had a lot of trench wars together," Redding said. "It's a blessing getting to play with him at the next level. He was like a big brother to me when he was here. I played against him in high school, and when I got to Texas, he took me under his wing. We are very close and that's why I am thrilled to play with him at the next level."

Dockery was drafted 15 spots after Redding (No. 81 overall). The four-year starter saw action at both tackle and guard during his 52-game Longhorn career. He did not allow a sack on an otherwise disparaged O-line and became the 40th consensus first-team All-American in UT history as a senior.

Dockery said he expected to go higher in the Draft.

"I thought it would be the first round or second round," he said, "but sometimes this is how things happen and it might not go your way. Now, it's motivation to add more fuel to the fire and go out and prove what type of player you are."

The first day of the 2003 Draft ended almost excruciatingly for Simms, who also expected to go higher. But Tampa Bay made the signal caller the final choice (No. 97 overall) of Saturday’s session.

"Chris has dreamed his whole life of playing in the NFL and now he'll have his chance as a member of the defending Super Bowl Champions," Brown said. "I'm very happy for him and that Tampa Bay feels he can be a part of their future."

Here’s a trivia question: prior to Simms, who was the last Longhorn QB to be selected in the NFL Draft? The answer: Rick McIvor in 1984 (third round/St. Louis Cardinals). In fact, Simms became just the fourth quarterback in school history drafted by the NFL. (The other two are legendary Texas QB Bobby Layne, who was the 1948 first round pick of the Chicago Bears. Layne‘s backup, Paul Campbell, was a second-round selection of the Philadelphia Eagles.)

Simms, of course, leaves a bittersweet legacy at Texas. While Orangebloods will never forget the back-to-back losses against OU (Simms did not start in the 2000 debacle) as well as the meltdown against Colorado in the 2001 Big 12 Championship, he still posted the second-most victories as a starting quarterback (26) in school history. (It’s just that folks remember three HUGE losses more than 26 wins.)

He also set the school record for single-season TD passes (26) in 2002 and finished his career with 7,097 yards (No. 2 on UT's career list). To date, Simms has been the most accurate passer in school history with a 58.7% completion rate and a 138.4 pass efficiency rating.

While no one doubted that Simms would eventually join the NFL ranks (I actually had projected him as the fourth round pick of the Dallas Cowboys), others questioned if Babers' 5-10 frame (diminutive by NFL standards) would knock him out of the draft completely.

Earlier last week, Brown spoke confidently of Babers’ draft status, mentioning that the three-year starter put in an extra hour each practice last fall working on his pass catching skills with secondary coach Duane Akina.

"Rod is an excellent cover corner in the tradition of Dré Bly, Ahmad Brooks and Quentin Jammer," Brown said. "Because of the aggressive style of defense we play, he's got a chance to help the Giants immediately."

Babers was a third-team All-American and Thorpe Award semifinalist honors as a senior. Last year he also set career highs for tackles (46) and pass breakups (team-high 21/tied for third on UT's single-season chart).

Horns Digest Top Stories