Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Pitt will end NFL draft drought
By Andrea Adelson
Pitt has a long and storied history with the NFL draft: 206 total selections, tied for fifth among all ACC teams. Of those, 24 were first-round picks, third best in the ACC.
Both numbers are expected to increase when the draft begins Thursday, most likely with tackle Aaron Donald going in the first round.
But interestingly enough, the first Pitt selection will break a little bit of a draft drought.
The Panthers have fallen on hard draft times over the last two seasons, failing to get any players selected in 2012 and 2013. Believe it or not, Pitt is the only school in the ACC that has not had a player drafted over the last two years. Consider that Pitt had gone 12 consecutive years before 2012 with players drafted. Between 2000-2011, Pitt had 34 players selected, including Larry Fitzgerald, Darrelle Revis and LeSean McCoy.
So why the recent dry spell? For one, some highly touted players just never panned out. And instability at the head coaching position that preceded Paul Chryst did not help matters, either.
The Class of 2008, which should have produced players for the 2012 and 2013 drafts, was regarded as the best in the Big East and ranked No. 21 nationally. The Panthers had four ESPN 150 prospects. Only one -- Jonathan Baldwin -- was drafted (and that was in 2011). The 20-member class of 2009 has also produced one draft pick, though receiver Devin Street should bump that number to two this weekend.
The Class of 2010 produced Donald, at least so far. Both Donald and Street signed under Dave Wannstedt but were able to adjust to new staffs and schemes. But not everybody else did. Perhaps more consistency with staff and scheme would have allowed more players to develop fully. The answers are probably somewhere in between.
Pitt does not need to look for many once this year's draft ends. The Panthers should have at least three players drafted, including transfer quarterback Tom Savage. That will get the Panthers going in the right direction again.