At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I drew the long straw here (figuratively with the ability to draft quarterback Drew Brees) and that dramatically changed my strategy. I was able to mix and match playmakers and personalities. And with Brees, I wanted to get guys who could make big plays, like Vinny Sutherland, Selwyn Lymon, and Joey Harris, and accomplished that goal. But before that, I was also able to assemble the best line possible because I had access to the top lineman in the draft in Matt Light, but also was able to get Mark Fischer, a very much under-the-radar guy that was really, really good. Brees affords the luxury of not having to get great receivers (and how many truly great receivers has Purdue had in the last 20 years?) and work with guys that can be (and were) productive.
Brees is the game-changer, and I was lucky to get him. But I was thrilled to get the players to surround him. Leaders like Smith, Light, Fischer, Chukki Okobi and Kendall Matthews will help with helping insure this team gets the job done.
And it (hypothetically) will.
Undersized yes, but the ability to bring pressure and fly to the football will be a staple of this defense. I have outstanding speed at the corners of the defense with Jacques Reeves, Anthony Brown, Akin Ayodele and Gilbert Gardner and, in relative terms, ample speed and athleticism with Ray Edwards and Chike Okeafor up front.
Plus, Billy Gustin at safety gives me the speed at the position, and the fact he has the highest single-season pass breakup total of anyone in the past 20 years (18 in 1998) made him a natural for my defense. He might have been the pick I was most happy to secure, especially as late as I did.
Like my offense, I wanted guys that could make the big play and my defense was chock full of guys that did during their time at Purdue. Interior defensive linemen Matt Mitrione and David Nugent scored touchdowns during their Boilermaker careers, as did Gardner, Landon Feichter and Mike Rose. In my view, mission accomplished.
I am not sure there were many guys that my colleagues drafted that I winced a great deal when they were taken in front of me. Sure, there were many other players that would have helped my team (would have loved to have had Dustin Keller, for example, but who wouldn't?).
Last thing from me (actually written by Brian Neubert but his "Final Post" doesn't post until Thursday but I will mirror): Please understand that this was not a 1-100 ranking. This was team building, and some pools are deeper than others. Supply-and-demand ruled the day here, so please don't think we're suggesting that the last safety drafted was a better player at Purdue than the first undrafted defensive lineman or wide receiver, where the pools were so deep you could drown in them.
Also, if you're a former player and didn't get picked, or didn't like where you got picked, or didn't like who you were picked after, well, nothing personal here at all and we have enjoyed great relationships with so many former players over the years and hope this doesn't get in anyone's way. This was for entertainment purposes only and based entirely on nothing but subjectivity and our whims.
So who were the notables that were left out of this draft? There were many as outlined in the paragraph above. Why did I pick guys like Billy Dicken on defense, Selwyn Lymon on offense and Joey Harris when I did? All fair questions. I loved Dicken as a competitor and wanted him on my team no matter what. Lymon was a risk with his off-the-field issues, but with a guy like Brees around him? Let's just say I would like to have seen Brees and Lymon connect. John Reeves on defense? Well, he was pretty productive as his two years on Brock Spack's defense after moving over from quarterback, and I took a lot of guys that got better as their Boilermaker career progressed. That was my litmus test for so many selection.
Most of all, it was a lot of fun for me to look back so many of the greats and near-greats that played at Purdue over the past 20 years.
Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited.