All in all, not a bad showing for Pac-12 football on opening night of the NFL draft, as five players were taken in the first 26 picks. The surprise was guard Kyle Long of Oregon, going to the Bears with the No. 20 selection. Long was widely projected to be a couple of rounds lower than that.
The Ducks also had the No. 3 selection — outside linebacker Dion Jordan to the Dolphins — and the night belies a trend of some recent years. Oregon, even as it has gone to BCS bowl games regularly, hasn’t always yielded much for the draft, giving rise to the theory that it was all about the wonders of the spread-option offense more than the players. So far, this draft is arguing strongly otherwise.
Star Lotulelei, the Utah nose tackle who had been diagnosed with a heart condition earlier, got a clean bill of health and went No. 14 to the Panthers. Then came Long, Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant No. 22 to the Falcons, and at No. 26, defensive end Datone Jones of UCLA to the Packers.
Here, we insert this disclaimer: The SEC had an astonishing 12 first-round picks.
Meanwhile, we ask: If somebody had told you last September the Pac-12 would have five first-round picks, wouldn’t you have guessed one of them would be Matt Barkley?