Seven Longhorns chosen in 2007 NFL Draft
With the close of the 2007 NFL Draft, seven Longhorns were selected in the two-day event, matching the most since 1992 and giving Texas at least six for the second consecutive year for the first time since 1991 (8) and 1992 (7).
The seven chosen were S Michael Griffin (19th overall, first round, Tennessee), CB Aaron Ross (20th overall, first round, N.Y. Giants), OG/T Justin Blalock (39th overall, second round, Atlanta), DE Tim Crowder (56th overall, second round, Denver), DE Brian Robison (102nd overall, fourth round, Minnesota), CB Tarell Brown (147th overall, fifth round, San Francisco) and OG Kasey Studdard (183rd overall, sixth round, Houston).
Griffin and Ross are the third pair of Longhorns chosen back-to-back since 1982, with the others being OT Mike Williams and CB Quentin Jammer, the fourth and fifth overall selections in 2002, and DE Shane Dronett and DT James Patton, the 54th and 55th overall selections in the second round in 1992.
The duo also became the second pair of defensive backs to be drafted in the first round in the same year in UT history, joining Johnnie Johnson (Los Angeles Rams) and Derrick Hatchett (Baltimore Colts) in 1980.
"I couldn't be more excited," Griffin said. "I've had a lot of chances to watch the Titans in keeping up with Vince Young and the other Longhorns there, and they're an exciting team to watch. They were just on the verge of making the playoffs last year, and I hope I can go in and make an impact. I've looked forward to today for a long time, and I'm really happy and a little relieved. Plus, to go back-to-back with Aaron, it's something that's really special."
With the selections, Texas has had a first-round pick in each of the last four years, which ties a UT record set from 1977-80.
"I really can't put into words how excited I am right now," Ross said. "The last few months have been so hectic. There was a lot going on and it went by so fast that none of it has sunk in yet. I'm sure it will in time, but I'm so excited about being picked by the Giants. I reached a lifelong dream of being drafted into the NFL, and I'm heading to New York, The Big Apple. What a great day. Now I'm just really looking forward to taking the next step in my career and in life."
In addition, Texas is the only school in the nation to have two first round selections in each of the last four years, which is a UT first, and also the only one to do so in six of the last seven years. Prior to Mack Brown's arrival, Texas had two first-round selections just four times in school history.
"I was pretty low key about the whole thing, then when Mike's name got called, it all happened pretty fast," Ross said. "I was thinking about how excited I was for him, when I got my call. What a great thing for Texas and coach Akina for Mike and I to go back-to-back. I know that's something we'll talk about for a long time, the fact that we went on consecutive picks in the NFL Draft. That doesn't happen very often for guys on the same team. For the two of us, who are good friends and longtime teammates, it's a great thing."
Blalock was the third Longhorn selected in this year's draft, giving Texas at least three draft picks for the fifth consecutive year. The five consecutive years with at least three picks is the most for UT since seven straight drafts from 1950-56.
"What an exciting day," Blalock said. "I really can't explain the feeling. It's been a long process. I'm glad it's over, and now I get to get back on the field pretty soon, so I'm excited about that and looking forward to being a Falcon."
It is the second straight year at least one Texas offensive lineman has been drafted following the selection of Jonathan Scott in the fifth round by the Detroit Lions. Blalock becomes the first Longhorn drafted by the Falcons since WR Alfred Jackson in the seventh round in 1978. The Falcons have also drafted LB Tommy Nobis in the first round in 1966 and TE Deryl Comer in the 14th round in 1971.
Crowder was the fourth Longhorn selected and gave Texas at least four draft picks for the fourth time in the last five years. However, it is only the second time in school history and the first time since 1982 Texas has had four players drafted in the first two rounds. The 1982 class included DE Kenneth Sims (first round), LB Bruce Scholtz (second round), T Terry Tausch (second round) and TE Lawrence Sampleton (second round).
"I talked to Coach (Mike) Shanahan, and I talked with the defensive line coach, and they told me that they would be happy to have me there and I can't wait to get there," Crowder said.
Crowder is the first Texas player chosen by the Broncos since OG Dan Neil in the third round in 1997. Denver has also drafted DE Shane Dronett with the 54th overall pick in the second round of the 1992 draft, OT Chuck Johnson in the fourth round of the 1992 draft and TE Bobby Micho in the 10th round of the 1984 draft.
Robison was selected with the third pick of the fourth round to open the second day. He will reunite former teammate CB Cedric Griffin in Minnesota, who was drafted by the Vikings in the second round of the 2006 draft. He becomes the eighth Longhorn drafted by the Vikings.
"Really and truly, I've always kind of been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings, especially when they had John Randle and Chris Doleman and all of those guys, the "Purple People Eaters,'" Robison said. "I've watched them in the past when they had Jack Del Rio at linebacker, and I know they have a good tradition. I'm looking forward to getting up there."
"I've heard it's beautiful up there, and Cedric will be there, so he'll be able to tell me the ins and outs when I get there. I'm just ecstatic right now. I can't even put it into words. I'm just ready to get up to my team and get started."
Combined with Crowder, Texas had two defensive ends drafted in the same draft for the first time since 1992 when Shane Dronett was selected in the second round by the Broncos and Tommy Jeter was chosen in the third round by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Brown became the sixth Longhorn drafted when he was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the fifth round.
"It feels good," Brown said. "I've just been waiting and excited to get the opportunity. I'm happy that San Francisco took a chance on me.
Brown is the first Longhorn chosen by San Francisco since DB Ricky Churchman in the fourth round of the 1980 draft, and he is the seventh overall taken by the 49ers.
"(The phone call) was good. They asked, 'Are you ready to be a 49er?' I said, 'I've been ready.' It's always a good thing when you get the call. I'm not worried about where I was picked, I'm just excited I'm getting the opportunity to go."
"I visited up there, and they sent someone here to meet with me as well. The visits went well, and I was hoping the 49ers would grab me, and they did, so I'm excited about it. I loved it there. The weather was nice and the coaching staff is excellent, just like The University of Texas. The coaching staff is laid back and they thrive on good character guys, so that's a good thing."
He was also the third Texas defensive back taken in this year's draft, which is the most since three were selected in 1984. That class included CB Mossy Cade (San Diego Chargers, first round), CB Fred Acorn (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, third round) and DB Craig Curry (Indianapolis Colts, fourth round).
"Coach Akina is the best college DB coach in the country, by far," Brown said. "He has a track record to go behind that. He's put a lot of guys in the NFL, and a lot of them have succeeded there. That speaks a lot to Coach Akina and how he teaches us and prepares us for different situations. This draft is just another mark for his track record, as well - three guys in the same draft."
The selection of Brown also gave Texas a total of eight DBs selected in the last six years, joining Michael Griffin (2007 - Tennessee Titans, first round), Aaron Ross (2007 - New York Giants, first round), Michael Huff (2006 - Oakland Raiders, first round), Cedric Griffin (2006 - Minnesota Vikings, second round), Nathan Vasher (2004 - Chicago Bears, fourth round), Rod Babers (2003 - New York Giants, fourth round), and Quentin Jammer (2002 - San Diego Chargers, first round).
Studdard became the second Longhorn in draft history to be chosen by the Houston Texans, following WR Sloan Thomas, who was drafted in the seventh round in 2004.
"It's one of the biggest reliefs ever," Studdard said. "It was awesome. It seemed like a weight on my shoulders for so long, but I feel great right now. The Texans called me, and someone said on the other end, 'Kasey, do you know who this is?' I said, 'Coach Kubiak?' He said, 'Yes, we're about to take you with the next pick if Tampa Bay doesn't take you, so I'll call you right back.' It was just nuts. It was just crazy to see my name up there."
Studdard is the third member of his family to be drafted out of UT. His father, T Dave Studdard, was selected in 1978 in the ninth round by the Baltimore Colts and played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, while his uncle, G Les Studdard, was chosen in 1981 in the 10th round by the Kansas City Chiefs.
"It makes me feel great," Studdard said of the tradition. "That's just awesome. My dad just told me he was proud and was glad I was going to a great team with great coaches. He was happy I don't have to worry and that I'll be in a good organization."
Studdard became the second UT offensive lineman drafted this year, following Blalock's selection by the Atlanta. It is the first time since 1986 that two Texas offensive linemen have been chosen in the same draft. That year, OT John Stuart (eight round, Miami Dolphins) and OG Bryan Chester (10th round, Dallas Cowboys) were selected.