The 2012 NFL Draft is in the past now, and although Virginia Tech didn't place as many Hokies in the draft as we would have liked, we did have our first 1st rounder in David Wilson since 2008 when Duane Brown was selected with the first round pick of the Houston Texans.
So if you're curious about where some of the Hokies ended up, even the undrafted ones who signed deals, follow me after the jump for a complete list and an analysis of the drafted players, why they were drafted where they were and if it was a good fit.
32. David Wilson NYG- When Wilson was picked it was a shock to many analysts who had projected him much lower. The vast majority of the projections had Wilson going in the 2nd or possibly even the 3rd round. For Hokie fans the only surprise was that in light of those "expert" projections, Wilson was picked in the 1st round anyway.
The Giants were very candid about their selection of Wilson. They said they had him as the #2 back on their board behind Trent Richardson, ahead of Doug Martin who was picked one pick prior to Wilson's selection. The Giants also pointed out some of Wilson's flaws: chiefly his propensity to fumble and his need to improve his pass blocking.
Todd McShay indicated he thought Wilson needed to improve as a pass receiver, something I disagree with. After all, his receiving statistics seem to support his being a good receiver, and Wilson has even been lined up as a wideout on several occasions in his collegiate career, not as a decoy, but as the primary receiver on the play. Bottom line, Wilson's pass receiving is an asset, not a weakness. I think that McShay's analysis of Wilson suffered because he has to cover so many players. It's not a good excuse, and he doesn't get a pass (after all he's going on camera to talk about his evaluation of a 1st round player), but I am confident he and Kiper miss out on things because of how many players they have to know and cover.
Tech fans as I mentioned above were not surprised by Wilson going in the 1st round on the basis of him being a 1st round talent. David had a phenomenal combine from a physical standpoint and his character and passion for the game had teams gushing after their interviews with him.
Personally, although I loved David at Virginia Tech, you could count me among those who have their doubts about David as an every down running back in the NFL (I think he's a C.J. Spiller-minus with better power). So that the New York Giants drafted David is a godsend. They have a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback, an established offensive line, several playmakers at the receiver position and a complement at running back in Ahmad Bradshaw. Though Bradshaw is somewhat out of the same mold as Wilson, as his career has progressed he has become a more effective inside runner and power back (though he was always the scat back to Brandon Jacobs power-running prior to this year). I'd image Wilson will now assume Bradshaw's previous role as the outside runner/playmaker while Bradshaw will run in between the tackles (though Bradshaw sure proved what a playmaker he could be when he played against me).
Even if David never reaches the level of an every-down back he can still be a very good contributor as long as he irons out the wrinkles in his game: his fumbling, his blocking, his power/bulk/ability to run in between the tackles in the NFL and for my money, to stop running backwards to try to keep plays alive. In college that may work some of the time, but in the pro's, it's going to be a loss every time.
94. Jayron Hosley NYG- Hosley's draft stock was at an all-time high at the end of the 2010 season. He finished the year by leading the country in picks, showing uncanny instincts and blinding speed both in his return of said interceptions and on special teams. That performance led to analysts like Todd McShay ranking him as high as the eighth overall prospect for the 2012 NFL Draft in his postseason projections.
But then as we all know there were a litany of issues in 2011 and after his departure early in 2012. First off, he came back to much acclaim and adulation among Hokie fans and the national media, causing him to play entitled (by mid-season Hosley had checked out, ready to move on to the NFL). Of course he was injured midway through the season, but when he got back to health it was clear the effort wasn't there. I mean the guy was giving FOURTEEN-YARD CUSHIONS to receivers in the UNC game (where he was burned to the tune of something like seven catches) and he's supposed to be one of the speedsters and elite cover corners in college football? For an NFL team, it's always hard to pick a guy like that for the same reason students who take a year off from college rarely return: once you've turned it off, it's hard to turn it back on, and if you don't try whenever you just don't feel like it, what's to say you won't do the same thing in the NFL? Who knows? Maybe punching out well before his time was up at Tech to think about being in the NFL will make him feel like now that he's there he has it made and can keep playing the way he did down the stretch in 2011.
On the field, Hosley didn't have nearly the impact he had in 2010, posting only three interceptions. For the record though, Hosley unofficially led the NCAA in interceptions overturned by review or penalty (coincidentally he also led the nation in incorrectly overturned interceptions). So with that in mind, while I can't understand him completely throwing in the towel, I can understand how it felt like the forces were mounting against him, and in those moments you can certainly feel like "why even try?"
Hosley's biggest slip up however may have been when he tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine. Some NFL players smoke marijuana, and I'm sure some NFL teams know they do and don't care as long as they aren't caught and they produce on the field. I actually think that teams care less about the fact that Hosley smokes (or smoked) marijuana and more about the fact that Hosley smoked marijuana knowing that he would have to take a drug test at the NFL Combine. That shows an irresponsibility and carelessness that is alarming.
Ultimately in concurrence with the thesis of the analysis of Hosley, his ability to succeed as a pro will be based on his effort and ability to stay healthy. If he can address those concerns, there's no reason he won't be successful. His athletic ability and instincts are too good for him to fail in those departments and the Giants defensive backfield was entirely depleted last year due to injury, giving Hosley a chance to stand out early on. The Giants got a 1st round talent in Hosley, but he will determine if he lives up to that billing.
152. Danny Coale DAL- Danny Coale's agent dropped the hint after the first day of the draft that based off of the number of calls and contact they were getting, there was a very good chance that Coale would be going earlier than he was projected (I saw anywhere from the 4th-7th round), perhaps as high as the 2nd-3rd round range. Obviously it's unwise to listen to an agent who is probably posturing and feeding the fire with gas fire logs to try and improve his clients position through the media. Ultimately, Coale's agent was wrong as Danny slipped to the end of the 5th round.
As for Danny Coale, I really don't have to go into a full on scouting report on him, but I will give a little overview. We all know what a terrific college receiver he was, and what a terrific pro receiver he has the possibility of being. He runs the best routes of anyone in this draft class (although maybe a push with Ryan Broyles), he is the best at knowing the holes in a defense, finding them and exploiting them, he has some of the surest hands of any player in the draft, and performed better than expected at the NFL Combine. The scary thing to consider is that Danny is still growing as a football player. If you think about it, Danny didn't really start playing at the level he's at right now until down the stretch his junior year. I mean who looked at Danny Coale his freshman or sophomore years and said "That guy is a pro receiver." If you did, hats off to you, but I won't claim I did.
Danny is also in a good situation in that he's playing with an experienced quarterback in a pass heavy offense. He also will have several established receivers to work with, which is a two-fold benefit. One, that allows the emphasis to be taken off Danny, which leads to more plays where Danny Coale is open (which we all know happens a lot on its own). It also means Danny will most likely be playing in the slot, which will help tremendously as he is at his most effective when running crossing patterns across the middle of the field, which is the bread and butter of the slot position.
As for a pro comparison, I think Danny compares to Wes Welker, and if he reaches that level obviously he will be one of the top receivers in the league. I give that comparison because of the traits that Danny and Wes Welker both share. Their soft hands, their route running and their ability to break down defenses with their knowledge of coverages. He also is a little more athletic than Welker.
Those traits will serve Danny well in the pro's, and hopefully Danny will be able to make an impact earlier than Welker did. But if he even nearly lives up to the comparison I have made for him, then we will be talking about him as one of the best Hokies ever to play in the NFL.
Also, as a kicker, here's the audio of Coale on the phone with the Cowboys as they told him they were about to choose him with their pick. It's a pretty awesome moment, although it does remind me of the 3rd episode of the Imaginationland trilogy of South Park where Jesus, Luke Skywalker, Superman, Captain Crunch and God all talk to Kyle one at a time using telepathy. Just listen to the clip and you'll see the parallels.
Undrafted FA's who signed with NFL teams
Jarrett Boykin- Jacksonville Jaguars
Jaymes Brooks- Green Bay Packers
Blake DeChristopher- Arizona Cardinals
Cris Hill- Buffalo Bills
Eddie Whitley- Dallas Cowboys