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Another Side to the NFL Draft

A Closer Look at the 2010 NFL Draft

 

 As the 75th NFL Draft approaches, many NFL fans can recall how the fortunes of their favorite teams were forever altered by a draft.  From the Colts' selection of PEYTON MANNING with the first overall selection in 1998 to the Patriots taking a chance on TOM BRADYduring Round 6 in 2000, the foundation of all great teams begins on draft day.
 Few fans, however, remember the role that former NFL commissioner BERT BELL, who conceived the concept of the NFL Draft in 1935, played in elevating the NFL from a secondary sport to the most popular sport in America.
 Bell, who owned the Philadelphia Eagles at the time, helped save the foundering league by developing the draft concept to foster competitive balance and strengthen weaker franchises.  The first draft was held in 1936 in Philadelphia at the Ritz Carlton Hotel owned by Bell's father.  The meeting took place in Bert's hotel room.
 In the pre-draft era, teams fought against one another for players coming out of college.  The NFL's four strongest franchises at the time – the Giants, Bears, Packers and Redskins – dominated.  The other clubs were left struggling just as badly on the field as they were financially.  Some were even on the verge of folding, including Bell's Eagles.
 "I made up my mind that this league would never survive unless we had some system whereby each team had an even chance to bid for talent against the others," said Bell, a charter inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.  The draft is part of a leaguewide commitment to sharing, which remains a key cornerstone of the NFL's structure and success. 
 In 1959, Arthur Daley of the New York Timescalled the draft Bell's "monument…key to the continuous success of the NFL," but it wasn't his only banner idea.
 Bell bulwarked the NFL image as commissioner from 1946-1959 and set up the league's long-term television policies, negotiating the league's first national TV contract.  He also introduced "sudden death" overtime to football and even coined the phrase "on any given Sunday."
 Seventy-five years since his first grand idea, Bell's innovations and vision still have a positive influence on today's NFL.
 

 A compendium of off – and on – the field notes for the 2010 NFL Draft, which will take place on April 22-24 at New York City's Radio City Music Hall:
 SUH-PENDOUS!:  Nebraska defensive tackle NDAMUKONG SUH made an impact every time he stepped on the field for the Cornhuskers.  Now he's ready to make just as big an impact off of it.
 In front of 77,936 fans at Saturday's Husker spring game, Suh announced he will donate $2.6 million back to the school – $2 million to Nebraska Athletics for its Strength and Conditioning Program and an additional $600,000 to the UNL College of Engineering to endow a scholarship.  He graduated with a degree in construction management in December 2009.
 "It says so much about Ndamukong Suh that one of his first acts as a graduate is one of giving back, and helping students who are in need of a scholarship to the University of Nebraska," says CLARENCE CASTNER, president of the University of Nebraska Foundation.  "He is an inspiration and a role model.  It may be that his biggest impact will occur off the field."
 PIGSKIN & SHEEPSKINAn impressive number of players who will be drafted in 2010 already have earned their college degrees, with majors ranging from construction management to criminology.
 "Graduation was my main goal and once I knew I had that accomplished, I wanted to look at playing in the NFL," says Oklahoma defensive tackle GERALD MC COY, who completed his degree in Human Relations this past winter. 
 "Gerald is a great example of how to be a student-athlete," says McCoy's head coach at Oklahoma BOB STOOPS.  "He came here, took care of his academic responsibilities, invested himself in the lives of others and had a great career on and off the field."
 A sampling of 25 draft-eligible players who already boast their college degrees:
 
PLAYER
COLLEGE
MAJOR
T Ciron Black
Louisiana State
General Studies
C Jeff Byers
Southern California
Business Administration
DE Alex Carrington
Arkansas State
Psychology
LB Jamar Chaney
Mississippi State
Fitness Management
LB Kavell Connor
Clemson
Sociology
TE Jimmy Graham
Miami
Marketing and Management (Double major)
DT Lamarr Houston
Texas
Corporate Communications
C Ted Larsen
North Carolina State
History
LB Sean Lee
Penn State
Finance
S Myron Lewis
Vanderbilt
Organizational Development
QB Colt McCoy
Texas
Sports Management
DT Gerald McCoy
Oklahoma
Human Relations
CB Walter McFadden
Auburn
Public Administration
P Zoltan Mesko
Michigan
Business
LB Eric Norwood
South Carolina
Criminal Justice
DT Jared Odrick
Penn State
Sociology
S Myron Rolle
Florida State
Exercise Science
LB Darryl Sharpton
Miami
Finance
DT D'Anthony Smith
Louisiana Tech
Psychology
QB Jevan Snead
Mississippi
Marketing
DT Ndamukong Suh
Nebraska
Construction Management
RB C.J. Spiller
Clemson
Sociology
RB Ben Tate
Auburn
Criminology
T Ed Wang
Virginia Tech
Apparel, Housing and Resource Management/
Residential Property Management
DE Willie Young
North Carolina State
Science and Technology

 -- 2010 NFL DRAFT --
 BOOMER SOONER!: 
Three University of Oklahoma prospects – quarterback SAM BRADFORD, defensive tackle GERALD MC COY and tackle TRENT WILLIAMS – have been invited to New York for the 2010 NFL Draft and will be on site at Radio City Music Hall, eagerly waiting for their names to be called on Thursday, April 22.
 Oklahoma is the first school to have three players attend the draft since Penn State in 1995
 That year, running back KI-JANA CARTER, quarterback KERRY COLLINS and tight end KYLE BRADY were all on site for the selection meeting, which was held for the first time at New York's famed Theater at Madison Square Garden.
 Carter was selected No. 1 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, while Collins became the first draft choice in the history of the Carolina Panthers franchise (No. 5 overall).  Brady was taken with the ninth overall pick by the New York Jets.
 
1995 PENN STATE
  2010 OKLAHOMA
PLAYER
TEAM
DRAFTED
  PLAYER
TEAM
DRAFTED
RB Ki-Jana Carter
Cincinnati Bengals
Round 1, No. 1
  QB Sam Bradford
??

??

QB Kerry Collins
Carolina Panthers
Round 1, No. 5
  DT Gerald McCoy

??

??

TE Kyle Brady
New York Jets
Round 1, No. 9
  T Trent Williams

??

??


 
-- 2010 NFL DRAFT –

 FAST FIRST ROUND
Last year's first round was completed in three hours and 23 minutes, seven minutes shorter than 2008 and roughly half the time of the first round of the 2007 draft, which took six hours and eight minutes.
 It was the shortest first round since 1990 – which took three hours and 24 minutes.  The shortest first round since 1970 was in 1972 – two hours flat.
 First-round durations since 2000:
 
YEAR
FIRST ROUND
  YEAR
FIRST ROUND
2000
5:30
  2005
5:47
2001
4:18
  2006
4:48
2002
5:48
  2007
6:08
2003
4:58
  2008
3:30
2004
5:24
  2009
3:23

 -- 2010 NFL DRAFT --
 SOONER OR LATERFew NCAA football programs have traditions that run as deep as the University of Oklahoma.  The Sooners are perennial contenders and have won four national titles since 1966. 
 Many OU players have gone on to star in the NFL, most recently Pro Bowl running back ADRIAN PETERSONof the Minnesota Vikings.
 Quarterback SAM BRADFORD, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, is one of this year's top prospects and is likely to be selected in the first round.
 Surprisingly, Bradford can become the first Oklahoma quarterback to play his entire college career with the Sooners and throw a pass in an NFL game in over 60 years!
 The last Sooner QB to throw an NFL pass? JACK JACOBSof the Green Bay Packers way back in 1949.
 "The NFL was looking at a different type of quarterback than the wishbone we ran at Oklahoma," says GALEN HALL, Penn State's offensive coordinator who filled the same role for the Sooners from 1966-1983.  "That might have something to do with the Oklahoma thing.  Now they're throwing the football."
 (Editor's Note: Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback TROY AIKMAN played two years at Oklahoma, but later transferred to UCLA.)
  SEMPER FIDELISBall State defensive end BRANDON CRAWFORDis anything but your typical NFL prospect.
 At 33, Crawford was older than five of his assistant coaches in his senior season!  Following a windy road that included several years of work at an automobile plant and a five-year stint in the Marines, Crawford thinks he has what it takes to play professional football.
 "I believe I have a shot at getting drafted," says Crawford, who received an honorary discharge from the Marine Corps in 2003.  "If you turn on the film, it doesn't lie.  My age might make some people put a blinder on, but I think you've got to see the film first."
 Crawford, who initially enrolled at Ball State in 2004 and earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 2008, totaled 138 tackles and 15.0 sacks during his college career, starting his final 39 games.
 The five oldest rookies to appear in an NFL game (non-kickers and punters):
 
PLAYER
TEAM
YEAR
AGE*
WR Vince Papale
Philadelphia Eagles
1976
30 years, 307 days
DL Gary Dulin
St. Louis Cardinals
1986
29 years, 244 days
QB Chris Weinke
Carolina Panthers
2001
29 years, 159 days
RB Leon Burns
San Diego Chargers
1971
29 years, 95 days
Waddell Smith
Dallas Cowboys
1984
29 years, 30 days
* Age on date of last game played that season.


12 TIDBITS:
  A dozen interesting notes on the draft class of 2010:
 DID YOU KNOW THAT
 
PLAYER
NOTE
Tennessee DB ERIC BERRY
Studied dentistry at Tennessee and interned at a Georgia dentist office this past summer.
   
Oklahoma QB SAM BRADFORD
Is the first person of Cherokee descent to start at quarterback for a Division I university since Sonny Sixkiller, a full-blooded Cherokee, who played for the University of Washington (1970-72).
   
Wisconsin FB JOHN CONNER
Was nicknamed "The Terminator" by his teammates because of his hard-nosed blocking style and his name's resemblance to the John Connor character from the 1991 Arnold Schwarzenegger film "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."
   
Wake Forest DB BRANDON GHEE
Is working to create a charitable organization called the Ghee Force Foundation, whose mission will be to support our nation's military veterans.
   
Florida DB JOE HADEN
Is the oldest of five brothers whose names all begin with the letter J (Josh, Jordan, Jacob and Jonathon).  Joe is just the first college football player in the family.  Josh is currently a running back at Boston College, while Jordan enrolled at Florida this January to play safety.
   
Louisiana State DB CHAD JONES
Is one of two players in NCAA history, along with teammate Jared Mitchell, to capture a BCS football title (2007) and a College World Series championship (2009).
   
Michigan P ZOLTAN MESKO
Moved to the United States from Romania when he was 11 years old.  His parents entered a green card lottery and were among the 55,000 chosen to receive a green card out of the 200,000 that applied.
   
South Florida WR CARLTON MITCHELL
His mother Angela is the "cut-man" for professional boxer Antonio Tarver.
   
Penn State DT JARED ODRICK
Has invited his mentor LARRY JOHNSON, SR., the PSU defensive line coach and father of Redskins running back LARRY JOHNSON, to sit with him in the Green Room at Radio City Music Hall on draft day.
   
Oklahoma State T RUSSELL OKUNG
Has the opportunity to become the first OSU lineman to be picked in Round 1 since JOHN WARD (1970, Minnesota).
   
Clemson RB C.J. SPILLER
Is the first Clemson running back to be Academic All-ACC and first team All-ACC.
   
Nebraska DT NDAMUKONG SUH
Is the son of two foreign-born parents.  His mother Bernadette is from Jamaica, while his father Michael hails from Cameroon. 
   
Florida QB TIM TEBOW
Was born in Manila, Philippines while his parents were abroad doing missionary work.  Tebow has accompanied his father, Bob, back to the Philippines for the past three summers for mission work.
   
Virginia T ED WANG
May become the first player of full Chinese descent to be selected in the NFL Draft.  His parents, Nancy and Robert, were both members of the Chinese Olympic track and field team in the 1970s.

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