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Archive for Sunday, April 27, 2008

Talib first first-round Jayhawk since 1993

Despite character questions, Tampa Bay selects cornerback with 20th pick

April 27, 2008

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As Saturday's NFL Draft progressed further and further down the first round, former Kansas University cornerback Aqib Talib thought back to his visit with Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden recently.

"I had a real good conversation with coach Gruden," Talib said. "I felt good about it, that if I went to No. 20 that I'd be going to Tampa Bay."

Turns out, he was right.

At 4:20 p.m. Saturday, Talib became KU's first first-round draft pick since Dana Stubblefield in 1993. Tampa Bay selected Talib 20th overall, making him the lone Big 12 Conference player picked in the first round.

Talib became a millionaire just like that. Though negotiations will soon begin between the Bucs and Talib's agent, Todd France, recent history suggests that Talib is about to fill up his pockets.

Last year's No. 20 pick, Texas cornerback Aaron Ross, signed with the New York Giants for $13 million over five years. He received $8 million in guaranteed money.

Talib, 22, can expect a similar payday. And he's determined to earn his keep right out of the gate.

"That's the plan," Talib said. "I plan on making an impact, coming in, working hard and making an impact right away."

Gruden shares Talib's beliefs. Tampa Bay's Super Bowl-winning coach compares Talib to Charles Woodson, an electric playmaker who shined under Gruden when the two were with the Oakland Raiders.

"(Talib) has a lot to do, I think, with the explosion of Jayhawk football back on to the scene," Gruden said. "He just has a knack for making plays on both sides of the ball and on special teams."

It is defense, though, where Talib will earn his money. A consensus All-American for the 12-1 Jayhawks last season, Talib intercepted 13 passes and broke up 45 more in just 34 career games. He returned two for touchdowns in 2007 alone, including a 60-yard tone-setting return in the Orange Bowl.

Talib will join Tampa Bay's well-known Cover 2 defense, which is led by respected coordinator Monte Kiffin.

"We started to play a lot of Cover 2 my last year at Kansas," Talib said. "I think I'm ready for it. Coach Kiffin is a master of it. With his help, I'll be all right learning the scheme. I think I'll make a lot of plays."

Talib was the third cornerback selected on Saturday, behind Troy's Leodis McKelvin (No. 11, Buffalo) and Tennessee State's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (No. 16, Arizona).

Talib's biggest knock heading into the draft, perhaps, was character concerns stemming from marijuana use in college that reportedly led to three failed drug tests. Talib didn't deny the allegations Saturday, and Gruden confirmed that Talib came clean about the failed tests.

"He came out and was honest," Gruden said. "I'm not going to live in the past. I'm going to live in the future. I trust this kid."

Added Talib: "I went through a little stage in college. All that stuff happened 21â2 years ago. I learned from it. I'm a grown man now, and I've moved forward from that incident. It's all behind me."

The Buccaneers picked Talib over a hometown talent, cornerback Mike Jenkins of South Florida. Jenkins went five picks later to the Dallas Cowboys, perhaps a sign of how much the Bucs believe in how Talib can make them better.

Talib, of course, is well known for believing in his own abilties, one reason Tampa Bay snagged him at such a crucial stage of the draft.

"He just sits on the edge of his chair," Gruden said of Talib. "He just wants to go out and play. He wants to be playing ball. That's what he does. We need that. We need some playmaking. We need some confidence.

"I think he'll represent us well."

Comments

jayhawks71 5 years, 11 months ago

at 4:20pm.... are you kidding me???? Talib picked at 4:20??? What are the odds of that?

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