We’ve heard terms like “DBU” to describe what could be or “should be” the program with the reputation for producing the best defensive backs. The same term has been used to ask of the best programs for quarterbacks (it’s hard to ignore Oklahoma right now), wide receivers, running backs, or linebackers.
The Rams just made a bunch of selections in the NFL draft and every prospect comes with a college history attached to their resume, whether they like it or not. Sometimes it is good, sometime it is quarterbacks out of Ohio State.
Let’s start by looking at LA’s first three picks in 2021.
Tutu Atwell, WR
College: Louisville (All Alum)
School legend: Johnny Unitas
The Cardinals have produced a couple of recent stars in Lamar Jackson and Jaire Alexander (Atwell was one year too late to play with them in 2017), as well as Jets left tackle Mekhi Becton, the 11th overall pick in 2020.
Atwell will become the 14th receiver out of Louisville to make the league and he’s only the sixth to have been drafted. The others include first round pick DeVante Parker, second round picks Deion Branch and Ernest Givens, third round pick Harry Douglas, and finally the Cardinals receiver who did better than all of them, former eighth round pick Mark Clayton.
Clayton caught an NFL-high 18 touchdown passes during Dan Marino’s MVP season in 1984. He made five Pro Bowls while playing with Marino in Miami.
Ernest Jones, LB
College: South Carolina (All Alum)
School legend: John Abraham
The Gamecocks have made some noise in the draft, producing two number one picks (Jadeveon Clowney, running back George Rogers), and some noise in the league, including recent Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore.
Jones will become the 23rd pro linebacker out of South Carolina, the 14th to be drafted. The only South Carolina linebacker to be drafted higher than Jones at 103, is Gerald Dixon, the 78th overall pick in 1992. Dixon played three years in Cleveland under Bill Belichick and Nick Saban, but he never broke through on that defense.
The best South Carolina linebacker of all-time is Tom Addison, a 12th round pick for the Baltimore Colts in 1958. Addison made four Pro Bowls during his eight-year career.
Bobby Brown III, DT
School legend: Von Miller
The Aggies don’t seem to ever do anything of note at the college level — their last championship came in 1939 — but even if the school knows how to blow a top-ten ranking, they can’t make enough mistakes to keep Texas recruits from committing to them.
In 2017, Myles Garrett became the first A&M player to go first overall, then two years later, Kyler Murray (who transferred to Oklahoma after starting at A&M) also became a top overall pick. The Aggies also produced number two picks Luke Joeckel and Von Miller within the last decade, as well as top-ten picks Mike Evans, Jake Matthews, and Ryan Tannehill.
Go back before 2010 and you’ll find plenty of other examples of top-ten and first round picks out of Texas A&M, including Hall of Almost left tackle Richmond Webb and former second round pick and Rams linebacker Jack Pardee, who I just happened to mention in a post last week.
Brown would become the 26th defensive tackle to make the NFL out of Texas A&M. And expectations for that position would be high, as the Aggies have produced former top-15 picks Sam Adams, Ty Warren, Jim Winkler, and Ray Childress. There’s also former undrafted free agent Pat Williams, a roadblock for eight years in Buffalo, then a three-time Pro Bowler in his mid-thirties with the Vikings.