In the first night of the 2015 NFL Draft, three Washington Huskies got their named called and their dreams fulfilled in what became a remarkable night for everybody who follows the Purple and Gold.
Round 1: Thursday, 8pm ET, ESPN / NFL Network
Round 2-3: Friday 7pm ET, ESPN2 / NFL Network
Round 4-7: Saturday 12pm ET, ESPN / NFL Network
The action started when DT Danny Shelton, who had been passed over by the Bears at #7, landed with the Cleveland Browns at #12. Shelton had been heavily connected to the Browns during the last few weeks before the draft and, himself, had noted the Browns were one of two teams (the other being Chicago) that had been in the most contact with him. By going to Cleveland at #12, he became the highest defensive lineman drafted out of UW since Steve Emtman in 1992. In fact, there had only been four UW D-Linemen total to be drafted since Emtman before Shelton went last night. The last two were Daniel Te'o-Nesheim in the third round of 2010 and Alameda Ta'amu in the fourth round of 2012.
CB Marcus Peters made a jump up the draft board after a little run on defensive backs when he went #18 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs. Peters had been the subject of much scrutiny leading up to the draft due to his off-the-field discipline issues under Huskies head coach Chris Petersen. However, the strong support that Petersen showed Peters during the draft process combined with his unique physical skills made his drafting in the first round pretty much inevitable. Peters goes into a conference that features QBs like Peyton Manning and David Carr - a situation that could provide ample opportunities for him to make his name in the league.
The biggest shock of the night came when the Carolina Panthers picked Washington OLB Shaq Thompson at #25. Thompson was at one time considered a first-round talent but had seen his stock drop a bit since the combine. Concerns over his size and his lack of "combine speed" had many analysts thinking that he may drop into the second or possibly third rounds. One ESPN analyst had Shaq falling behind WSU Defensive Lineman Xavier Cooper, a development that made our friends at Coug Center quite happy.
Never before had UW produced three first round NFL draft picks in the same draft. The closest UW ever got to that feat was when they had two first round (Emtman, Dana Hall #18) and two third round picks in 1992. UW would also have two first rounders (Napolean Kaufmann and Mark Breuner) selected in 1995.
The selection of three Huskies in the first round is obviously tremendous news for the program. Each of these players were initially recruited by Steve Sarkisian and the former staff. Each has been developed over the the past season and a half under new Husky head coach, Chris Petersen. The events of the night are both a validation of the recruiting prowess of the old staff and the developmental capabilities of the new one.
The NFL Draft continues with rounds 2-3 today. The only Husky that figures to see his name called today - barring some kind of miraculous jump by WR Kasen Williams - would be the nation's leading pass rusher from a year ago, Husky OLB Hau'oli Kikaha. Most analysts have a third round grade attached to Kikaha, but pass rush specialists are difficult to project as they tend to get selected in bunches.
You can tune into the Draft beginning at 7pm ET tonight on both ESPN2 and the NFL Network. Stay tuned to the 'Pound for all the updates.