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April 23, 2005

Two Trojans go in first round of NFL Draft

After being out of football for 15 months Mike Williams has found a new football home. Williams was selected as the #10 pick in the draft by the Detroit Lions. Joining Williams in the first round was Mike Patterson, who went to the Philadelphia Eagles with the 31st pick.

It was a strange first day of the 2005 NFL Draft. Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers was projected as the #1 pick by some pundits, but fell all the way to #24 when the Green Bay Packers selected him.

Mike Williams was the #1 player on Mel Kiper Jr.'s draft board but fell to the 10th pick with Detroit. Some thought the Vikings would take him at #7, but they decided to go with a "speed" receiver instead (Troy Williamson from South Carolina). Many feel that the Vikings might have made a mistake by taking a receiver from the "other" USC instead of Williams. Only time will tell.

Detroit's pick was also a surprise because they had selected wide receivers in the first round the last two years (Roy Williams and Charles Rogers). Overall six receivers went in the first round in 2005.

For Patterson he will be able to sign a contract with first round money and join a team that went to the Super Bowl last season. He will also get the chance to play along side a Pro Bowler like Jevon Kearse.

The Eagles did not have glaring needs to fill in this draft but their interior defensive line is aging. Also the status of the incumbent starter Corey Simon is up in the air and Patterson could be expected to start in the middle of the defensive line from day one.

Patterson was the 54th Trojan selected in the first round of the common NFL draft. That is the most first-round selections for any university.

Many thought that Shaun Cody would actually be selected ahead of Patterson, but that is not how it worked out on Saturday. With Patterson going in the first round, Cody fell a few slots to the 5th selection in the 2nd round (the 37th overall pick) to the Detroit Lions. Detroit moved up to get this pick in a trade with Tennessee.

It was projected that Lions would get a defensive lineman with their first pick before they drafted Williams. But the Lions got lucky when such a quality player like Cody was available in the 2nd round. They got a great player in a position of need in the 2nd round to go along with the best player on their board with their 1st pick.

In a bit of a surprise linebacker Lofa Tatupu was selected in the second round by the Seattle Seahawks. Tatupu was the lone junior from USC to enter the draft a year early. Some speculated that he might not even be selected on the first day, but Seattle picked him with the 13th pick in the 2nd round (45th pick overall). This was a pick Seattle acquired in a trade with Carolina.

Kiper figured Tatupu would go in round five even though some have compared him to Zach Thomas (Texas Tech/Miami Dolphins). Thomas was drafted in the later rounds but proved on the field in the NFL that he should have been selected higher. The Seahawks feel that Tatupu is going to be one of those guys who will excel in the NFL, and they traded up in the second round to get him.

Tatupu did not have the fastest 40-yard dash times in the combine, but he showed his athletic ability in the vertical leap and bench press. His play making ability on the big stage that the Trojans have played on the last couple of years also helped his stock tremendously.

The second day of the draft was much quieter for the Trojans. USC fans waited to hear the name of Alex Holmes or Matt Grootegoed called out, but neither player was selected.

There was one familiar name announced as the 16th pick in the 7th round (230th overall) by the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. They decided to go with a quarterback, someone to backup their superstar QB Tom Brady. Who better to backup a big name than Matt Cassel, who the Patriots surprisingly drafted in the 7th round.

Cassel's biggest claim to fame is that he was the 2nd man behind two Heisman Trophy winners. Now the man who worked under Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart will now learn under Brady in the NFL.

Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for the latest on where Trojan players sign as free agents in the NFL.


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