1. Chris Long – 1st round (2) – St. Louis Rams
Really a no brainer here… tons of media hype around the son of a HOF’er. ESPN reported the decision had been made nearly 24 hours before the draft began. In hindsight, all should have known when Scott Linehan was the only head coach to attend Virginia’s Pro Day back in March. Some interesting info did come out after the fact, as the NY Daily News reported on Monday that the Jets tried to trade up for Long before selecting Ohio State’s Vernon Gholston at #6.
Groh offered some comments on being invited to attend the draft for the second time: “In these two years that I have been flattered to be here, there have been 12 players here and yet only the players from Virginia have had their high school and college coaches there. It’s reaffirming with how we talk about this being a football family situation at Virginia. What happens good for one of us is good for all of us.”
2. Branden Albert – 1st round (15) – Kansas City Chiefs
Many had pegged this selection at #5, but Albert ended up in Kansas City anyway after they traded up. One thing I found noteworthy was the fact that a lot in the media are attributing KC’s quick trade up to the ESPN’s report (via Sal Paolantonio) that the Eagles were interested in BA at #19. The Roanoke Times offered the following:
Before interviewing Albert, an ESPN News panel said that Albert might have suffered because of comparisons to D’Brickashaw Ferguson, a former UVa offensive tackle who was the fourth player chosen in the 2006 draft.
“I think Branden Albert gets a bad label because D’Brickashaw Ferguson has come into the league and been a little bit soft, if you will,” analyst Todd McShay said. “At the end of the day, if you watch Albert on film, he likes to finish blocks. He’s a physical football player.”
Beyond Groh, Albert also credited Ron Prince with a lot of his development. He told the Topeka Capital-Journal that Prince “helped mold me into the player I am today” and “helped put that mentality of being a killer in me when I had to pull and crush people.” The CJ also relayed this:
Prince also played a role in convincing the Chiefs that Albert was a player they needed to patch one of the three gaping holes they have along their offensive line. Kansas City couldn’t go wrong with a guard who now is projected to be an NFL tackle, a position he played in only two games for the Cavs.
“Ron felt the guy could play tackle in this league,” said Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, who once hired Prince on a minority fellowship with the Jets. “Along with coach (Al) Groh and what we watched on tape, nothing says he can’t. He’s a multi-task guy. He was a team captain, everything you want in a football player. He’s athletic, tough, and he’s always available.”
3. Tom Santi – 6th round (196) – Indianapolis Colts
The Colts also selected a TE in the 4th round, but lost Ben Utecht to free agency. Per the Daily Progress, team president Bill Polian said on the NFL Network he felt Santi “can fill the role that Utecht played for us.”
4. Chris Gould – undrafted, singed with Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5. Nate Lyles – undrafted, signed with New York Jets
Lyles told the Daily Progress that Groh’s NYJ connection was a big help and that he “was trying to find the situation that matched me and best fit me more than anything.”
6. Ian Yates-Cunningham – undrafted, signed with Kansas City Chiefs
7. Jermaine Dias – undrafted, singed with Cleveland Browns
8. Jonathan Stupar – undrafted, signed with New England Patriots
9. Allan Billyk – undrafted
10. Ryan Weigand – undrafted
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