New England Passes on local QB

<P> Whether it's from UMass, BC or UConn, fans from all over New England were convinced the Patriots were interested in at least one local prospect in the 2005 NFL Draft. UConn's linebacker Alfred Fincher and quarterback Dan Orlovsky we're the best known local prospects that the Patriots could have selected. They had needs at both positions, but opted not to draft either player. Here's the Draft from Dan Orlovsky's perspective.</P>

New England Passes on local QB
Orlovsky Taken By Detroit In 5th Round Of NFL Draft
By NED GRIFFEN Day Sports Writer, Connecticut Sun

Dan Orlovsky should heed Jon Wholley's words more often.

Wholley, a UConn running back last season, told Orlovsky early on the first day of the NFL draft that the Detroit Lions would select him. Orlovsky disagreed. He didn't believe he fit in with Detroit's plans.

Wholley was right — Detroit traded up in the fifth round Sunday and selected the Huskies quarterback with the 145th overall pick.

“(I'm) extremely surprised,” Orlovsky said. “I had talked to my agent and there was no chance that I thought I'd end up there. When they took (USC receiver) Mike Williams (Saturday, in the first round), Jon Wholley, who was at the apartment with us, said that he guaranteed I was going to Detroit. I just said ‘Whatever.' I thought there was no chance.

Dan Orlovsky

“(Wholley) said to look at their receivers. They're amazing and that would be the best situation for me. As (Sunday) went along and I got the call and I didn't recognize the number. I looked at the TV and it was Detroit (on the clock). I didn't think I was going to go to Detroit. Right when I picked up the phone the people at my apartment erupted. I looked at the TV and saw my name. It was a big surprise, but a pleasant one. I'm ecstatic about it.”

Detroit didn't have a pick in the fifth round, so it traded next season's fourth-round pick to the New England Patriots in exchange for the latter's fifth-round selection in this year's draft and next season's fifth- and sixth-round picks.

“He's a tall kid, but he's a pretty athletic kid,” Detroit President and CEO Matt Millen said. “He can throw on the run. He's going to need some time, which is perfect — this is a great situation for him. I've been working the phones all day today, and this was the first thing that we had. He was sitting up there and he was the highest guy left on our board at a position where we needed some help. So we went up and got him.”

Orlovsky said: “That's the biggest and greatest thing — their organization wanted me. It's not like they went off of their draft board at number 145 and said that I should be picked. They wanted me. They had me ranked pretty high and traded up. It's a great feeling to know that an organization wants you.”

Orlovsky was the second UConn player taken in the draft — linebacker Albert Fincher was selected in Saturday's second round by the New Orleans Saints. It was only the second time in the program's history that happened and the first time since 1962.

Orlovsky and Krug

Huskies defensive end Tyler King and offensive tackle Ryan Krug were not selected.

Orlovsky, a Shelton native, holds nearly every UConn career and seasonal passing record and helped put the program on the Division I map. He led the Huskies to wins in 21 of their last 28 games, including a 39-10 win over Toledo in the 2004 Motor City Bowl, the first bowl appearance for the program. He was named MVP of that game and finished the year with 3,354 yards and 23 touchdowns with 15 interceptions.

“This is a day that Dan has been working toward and dreaming about for as long as I have known him,” UConn head coach Randy Edsall said. “Now that it has come true, I couldn't be happier for him. He has meant so much to this program and this is a just reward for him. He epitomizes what this program is all about in terms of dedication and hard work and I know that he will represent himself and this university well.

“The Lions are getting a great person and it's exciting to see that they would trade up to select him.”

Detroit represents a terrific opportunity for Orlovsky, joining a team with promising young, athletic talent. He will also learn from Detroit head coach Steve Mariucci, who is renowned for his quarterback coaching. Mariucci tutored Brett Favre while he was quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers. As head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, he coached Steve Young, a Hall of Famer, and Jeff Garcia.

“(Mariucci is) known for quarterbacks,” Orlovsky said. “When you look at some of the guys he's worked with, he has a very good pedigree of quarterbacks. When you look at the whole situation with coach Mariucci's background and (quarterbacks) coach (Greg) Olson, who was so successful at Purdue, then (wide receivers) Mike Williams, Charles Rodgers, Roy Williams, (tailback) Kevin Jones and (tight end) Marcus Pollard, how could you not be successful throwing to those guys?”

Orlovsky will not be able to wear No. 7. It has been retired in honor of Dutch Clark. Instead, he will wear No. 9 in honor of Fincher. He also noted that the last time he played at Detroit's Ford Field he led UConn to its Motor City Bowl win.

“That's one thing that coach Mariucci said, that ‘we've seen you play in our stadium and we loved you,' ” Orlovsky said. “It's a great town and I'm undefeated in the stadium, so I'm off on a good foot.”

Orlvosky and Fincher will see one another on Dec. 24, when Detroit and New Orleans meet.

“Since I'm going to his town, he's paying for dinner,” Fincher said. “Oh, wait a minute — it's in the (New Orleans) Superdome. Looks like I'm paying.”

This Article has been provided by the staff of the New London Day Sports Department, and is reprinted with permission. You can find more information on The Day, in their sports section


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