Continuing a tradition of success for the Fresno State football team, four players from last yearâ€™s squad were drafted in this weekendâ€™s NFL draft.
Bulldog cornerback Marcus McCauley was the first Bulldog selected in the third round with the No. 72 pick overall.
Drafted by the Minnesota Vikings, McCauley has the possibility to see significant playing time this season for a Minnesota secondary that ranked last in the NFL against the pass and second to last in total defense.
Paul Williams, the Bulldog standout wide receiver was also selected in the third round with the No. 80 pick overall by the Tennessee Titans.
After an impressive 2005 season in which he caught 43 passes for 729 yards and seven touchdowns, Williams saw his stock drop slightly in the eyes of scouts with a disappointing senior season. Though primarily due to a deficient Bulldogs offense, in 2006 Williams caught only 21 passes, and only one of those for a touchdown.
Williams will be united there with last seasonâ€™s NFL rookie of the year Vince Young.
Williams will have the opportunity to step in and play a major role on a team that ranked at the bottom of the NFL in nearly every passing category. And amongst a group of wide receivers with little name recognition or previous NFL success, Williams should be given the chance to be the playmaker that the Titans sorely lacked last season.
Dwayne Wright was selected in the fourth round by the Buffalo Bills with the No. 111 selection in the draft.
Wright had a breakout season with the Bulldogs in 2006. After rushing for 1,000 yards for the Bulldogs in 2003, Wright saw the next two seasons lost to injury before busting out for 1,462 yards in the 2006 campaign.
Buffalo clearly drafted Wright to help fill a gaping hole in the backfield left by the departure of former running back Willis McGahee who was traded to the Baltimore Ravens this off-season.
With the trade of McGahee, Buffalo has found itself in the precarious position of being without a clear starting running back for the upcoming season.
In Buffalo, Wright will be fighting for playing time with the Bills first round draft selection out of the University of California, Marshawn Lynch as well as a host of other backs already in Buffalo.
Offensive tackle Chris Denman was the final Bulldog taken in this yearâ€™s draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the seventh round with pick No. 214.
At 6-foot-6 inches tall and 315 pounds, Denman has the size to be a prototype tackle in the NFL. Denman impressed scouts with both his size and his speed in his career at Fresno State not to mention his not having allowed a sack in the previous two seasons.
Though it was certainly an exhilarating day for those Bulldogs who were drafted, it was an equally disappointing and somber day for those who werenâ€™t.
Among those players not drafted was one-time Bulldog center Kyle Young.
Prior to the 2006 season, Young was viewed as one of the premier centers in all of college football. At 6-foot-5 and 328 pounds, he displayed flashes of dominance as the Bulldogs starting center for 47 consecutive games midway through the 2006 season.
But poor academics got Young suspended for the final four games of his senior season and he has since seen his stock plummet in the eyes of NFL scouts. Not helping Young was his appearance at NFL pro scout day at Fresno State in March at a whopping 353 pounds. In the words of one scout, Young was looking, â€œBigger, but not necessarily better.â€?
Among the other Bulldogs who failed to be drafted were fullback Roshon Vercher, defensive tackle Louis Leonard, wide receiver Joe Fernandez and safety Josh Sherley.
But fortunately for them, the draft is not the end of the line. Many of those not drafted have already signed free agent contracts with an NFL team while others have been invited to attend tryouts with various organizations.