April 24, 2012
Pitt Pre-NFL Draft Notes and Anecdotes
Link (pdf): 2011-12 Final Senior/Draft Prospect Bios
Pitt in the Draft by the Numbers:
- At least one Pitt player has been selected in each of the past 12 NFL drafts (2000-11).
- Since the inaugural NFL draft in February 1936, Pitt has had 260 players selected.
- Since 2004, four Pitt players have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft: receiver Jon Baldwin (2011, Kansas City Chiefs), offensive tackle Jeff Otah (2008, Carolina Panthers), cornerback Darrelle Revis (2007, New York Jets) and receiver Larry Fitzgerald (2004, Arizona Cardinals).
- Pitt boasts 24 total first-round NFL draft picks, beginning with end Mike Ditka in 1961. Ditka was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bears. He was also a first-round pick of the American Football League's (AFL) Houston Oilers that same year.
- While a Pitt player has never been the top overall selection in a draft, the Panthers have twice had the second overall pick (running back Tony Dorsett to the Dallas Cowboys in 1977, and offensive lineman Bill Fralic to the Atlanta Falcons in 1985).
- A Pitt player has twice been the third overall pick (defensive lineman Sean Gilbert to the Los Angeles Rams in 1992, and receiver Larry Fitzgerald to the Arizona Cardinals in 2004).
- Since the NFL draft was reduced to seven rounds in 1994, the highest number of Pitt players selected is six in 2004. The Panthers' six draft picks that year ranked fourth among all schools.
- In 2011 Pitt had five players selected, the second highest Pitt total during the era of the seven-round draft.
- Since the seven-round draft was instituted in 1994, here is a breakdown of Pitt selections by round:
1st rounders: 5
- Pitt had 12 players selected in the 1981 NFL draft, the highest number in school history. That Pitt draft class included three first rounders (offensive lineman Mark May to the Washington Redskins, linebacker Hugh Green to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and fullback Randy McMillan to the Baltimore Colts). Additionally, two future Pro Football Hall of Famers were picked in later rounds: linebacker Rickey Jackson to the New Orleans Saints in the second, and offensive lineman Russ Grimm to Washington in the third.
Blue, Black & Gold: The last Pitt player to be drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers was cornerback Hank Poteat in 2000. A two-time All-Big East performer while at Pitt, Poteat was selected in the third round by the Steelers. He punctuated his rookie year with a 53-yard punt return touchdown to fuel a 24-3 win over the Washington Redskins in the final game ever played at Three Rivers Stadium (Dec. 16, 2000).
Pitt Quips: Linebacker Brandon Lindsey is attempting to become the fourth Pitt player from famed Aliquippa High School to be drafted in the last seven years. Since 2006, other Panther Quips to be drafted were receiver Jon Baldwin (Kansas City, first round, 2011), cornerback Darrelle Revis (New York Jets, first round, 2007) and cornerback Josh Lay (New Orleans, sixth round, 2006).
Special Success: Since 1992, only one Pitt specialist (placekicker or punter) has been selected in the NFL draft. Punter Andy Lee was selected in the sixth round by the San Francisco 49ers in 2004. The pick turned out to be a wise one. Lee is arguably the top punter in the NFL, earning three Pro Bowl berths during his career.
The Road Less Traveled: A year ago, Pitt fullback Henry Hynoski did not hear his name called during the seven rounds of the 2011 NFL draft. Moreover, due to the league's unresolved labor issues, Hynoski could not sign a free-agent contract until late July. He ultimately inked a deal with the New York Giants and became a key contributor to the team's Super Bowl championship season.
Perhaps Pitt’s greatest free-agent success story is defensive lineman Tony Siragusa. While at Pitt from 1985-89, “The Goose” played in the shadow of higher-profile linemen Burt Grossman and Marc Spindler. In 1990, Siragusa wasn’t picked in the 12-round draft and was relegated to a free-agent deal with the Indianapolis Colts. He ended up playing 12 NFL seasons – seven with the Colts and his final five with the Baltimore Ravens – winning a Super Bowl in Baltimore in 2000.
The Wisconsin Connection: Under the direction of Paul Chryst, Wisconsin’s 2011 offense averaged a school-record 44.1 points per game. Several of Chryst’s offensive pupils are expected to hear their name called during this weekend’s NFL draft, including center Peter Konz and guard Kevin Zeitler. Noted NFL expert Peter King of Sports Illustrated recently predicted Zeitler will be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first round pick (24th overall selection).
Hueber’s Pro Pupils: Pitt offensive line coach Jim Hueber knows what an NFL prospect looks like. During his Wisconsin tenure, Hueber oversaw the development of three first team All-Americans on the Badgers’ offensive front: Aaron Gibson, Chris McIntosh and Joe Thomas. Each of the trio would go on to be first-round NFL draft selections. Thomas was Cleveland's first-round pick in the 2007 draft (third player taken overall) and has been voted to five consecutive Pro Bowls – the first Browns player since legendary running back Jim Brown to make it in each of his first five seasons.
Top Tight Ends: Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph coached the tight ends at Wisconsin the past four seasons. Under Rudolph's watch, Wisconsin had a tight end selected in three consecutive NFL drafts: Travis Beckum in 2009 (New York Giants), Garrett Graham in 2010 (Houston Texans) and Lance Kendricks in 2011 (St. Louis Rams).
The Badgers’ top tight end in 2011, Jacob Pedersen, figures to be a strong draft prospect in 2013. As a junior last season, Pedersen was an All-Big Ten performer with 30 catches for 356 yards and eight TDs.
Mr. Irrelevant: Since 1976, the title “Mr. Irrelevant” has been annually bestowed upon the player picked last in the NFL draft. The player is honored in Newport Beach, Calif., during "Irrelevant Week" and treated to golf, a trip to Disneyland and other festivities.
A Panther has never received this “honor,” although a player with former Pitt connections did back in 1991. That year, Larry Wanke, a quarterback from Ohio's John Carroll University, was picked No. 334 by the New York Giants. Wanke was a record-setting QB at JCU (1989-90) but he actually began his college career at Pitt, lettering as a backup during the 1987 and '88 seasons.
Pitt Draft Time Capsule:
5 Years Ago (2007): Cornerback Darrelle Revis led a trio of Pitt defenders in the draft, going to the New York Jets as the 14th overall pick. A pair of linebackers were also drafted: Clint Session (Indianapolis Colts, fourth round) and H.B. Blades (Washington Redskins, sixth round).
10 Years Ago (2002): Receiver Antonio Bryant, a consensus All-American and Biletnikoff Award winner while at Pitt, was chosen in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys.
20 Years Ago (1992): Defensive lineman Sean Gilbert was the third overall selection in the NFL draft's first round when he was taken by the Los Angeles Rams.
25 Years Ago (1987): Consensus All-America defensive end Tony Woods was a first-round pick (18th overall selection) of the Seattle Seahawks.
30 Years Ago (1982): Sam "Bam" Clancy, a 1,000-point scorer and rebounder at Pitt who never played college football, was an 11th-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks.
35 Years Ago (1977): Dallas trades up in the draft to get the second overall pick from the Seattle Seahawks, resulting in the Cowboys' selection of Pitt Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett. One season removed from leading the Panthers to the 1976 national title, Dorsett would earn NFL Rookie of the Year honors and help Dallas to a 27-10 victory over Denver in Super Bowl XII.
40 Years Ago (1972): Linebacker Ralph Cindrich, who went on to become a nationally known sports agent, was the fifth-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons.
45 Years Ago (1967): Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers, fresh off a victory in Super Bowl I, select Pitt linebacker Jim Flanigan in the second round. As a rookie, Flanigan helps the Packers to a second consecutive world championship with a 33-14 win over the AFL's Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II.
55 Years Ago (1957): Joe Walton, who would go on to fame as an NFL and college coach, was drafted in the second round by the Washington Redskins. As a senior end at Pitt in 1956, Walton a unanimous All-American and also earned Academic All-America accolades.
65 Years Ago (1947): Tackle Jack Durishan becomes the first Pitt player to be drafted in two different years. Durishan was drafted in 1943 by Pittsburgh. He served in the armed forces and after returning to the United States was drafted again in 1947 by the New York Yankees of the All-American Football Conference (AAFC).
70 Years Ago (1942): Edgar "Special Delivery" Jones, who still holds Pitt records for interception yardage in a game and season, is drafted in the 17th round by the Chicago Bears. Jones had 132 yards in interception returns against Nebraska in 1941 and totaled 224 for the year — still Pitt records more than 70 years later.
75 Years Ago (1937): Tackle Averell Daniell became the first-ever Pitt player to be selected in the NFL draft when he was taken by Green Bay in the second round. Daniell was an All-America lineman for the Panthers under legendary coach Jock Sutherland and played on two national title teams at Pitt.
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