Three Wahoos were drafted during this past week's NFL Draft. Morgan Moses was selected by the Washington Redskins with the 66th pick, Brent Urban was selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the 134th pick and, in a bit of a surprise, Luke Bowanko was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 205th pick.
The story, when it comes to Moses (and to a lesser extent, Urban) is how far he dropped. Seen by some a top 20 pick, and at worst a mid-2nd round pick, Moses fell all the way to the 2nd pick of the 3rd round. Urban was seen by most as a 2nd or 3rd round pick, and he fell all the way to the very end of the 4th round. Where these drops related to Virginia's performance on the field? Last year, Oday Aboushi was seen by some as a 3rd round pick and fell into the 5th round. Perhaps teams are wary of drafted players from a team that has performed so poorly on the field. Teams want to win and they want winners. Mike London has NFL experience and seems to be a well-liked, well-respected coach. Or, he seemed so a few years ago anyway. Maybe his lack of sucess on the field as turned NFL people off and London's players are being penalized for it. This is all, of course, speculation.
On the other hand, Bowanko was seen by most scouts as an undrafted free agent. I said in my preview that he had a shot to be drafted late because of his versatility. Apparently, the Jaguars were of the same mind, and they took him earlier than even my optimistic prediction, late in the 6th round.
So, with all of that in mind, let's talk about each of the 3 and how their NFL careers will begin.
Moses may have fallen, but he ended up in a great place for him. There's the obvious factor of staying close to home. He's from Richmond, so he'll have family and friends within an hour or so drive. He'll also have thousands of UVA alumni rooting for their fellow Wahoo.
Beyond that, Moses joins a team that has an obvious opening at RT. Tyler Polumbus started all 16 games for the Skins last year, and was arguably one of the worst starters in the NFL. The Skins badly needed and upgrade and Moses fits the bill. Look for him to start at RT from day bone. At LT, the Skins have Trent Williams, who is very good and also very expensive. Trent has a 14 million dollar cap hit for 2015, so assuming Moses plays well this year at RT, the Skins could potentially let Williams go after this year and save over 12 million. They may not be willing to move on from Williams, but at least would have some leverage in renegotiating a contract.
Urban, similarly, fell into a pretty good situation. He, of course, is from Canada so he's not close to home. But he is close to Virginia, and should have plenty of Wahoo fans rooting for him. (Are there any Ravens fans that are UVA alumns? I don't think I know any, but you'd have to assume there are some.) He most likely won't be starting from day one like Moses, at least in part due to the presence of another Wahoo, Chris Canty. Canty is a well respected veteran who can take Urban under his wing and show him the ropes. Also, Canty (like Urban) has experience playing in both a 4-3 and a 3-4 defense, so he should have some insights into the transition (Canty played 4-3 for the Giants, and 3-4 for both the Cowboys and Ravens). The Ravens also drafted FSU DT Timmy Jernigan in the 3rd roudn, and he'll have the inside track on a starting DE spot, but he is also a 4-3 guy who will need to transition. Urban has at least spent some time on a 3-4 a redshirt on Al Groh's final team. So, he may have a leg up on Jernigan. At the very least, Urban will be used on special teams, where his height is a weapon on kick block teams. Another former Wahoo, Eugene Monroe is also in Baltimore, but I don't think HooGene and Urban overlapped for the Hoos.
Amazingly, Bowanko also falls into a great situation. Obviously, moving to Florida is a bigger move than either DC or Baltimore, but Bowanko at least has a former teammate down there in Austin Pasztor. Pasztor was an undrafted free agent who is now the starting RT for the Jags. The Jags have Luke Joeckel, last year's 2nd overall pick, at LT and though he struggled at times last year with his play and with injury, he's entrenched there for the time being.
On the inside, however, the Jags are a mess. They need an upgrade at all 3 positions. Their starting center for the past 13 years, Brad Meester, just retired. The only other C on the roster is Mike Brewster, who has ended up on IR during each of his 2 NFL seasons. They drafted an OG, and signed another in free agency, plus Jacques McClendon is solid. Bowanko can play all 3 interior positions, and has a good chance to unseat Brewster as the starting C. At the very least, Bowanko should be the first OL off the bench for the Jags.
Despite seeing Moses and Urban fall in the draft, Wahoo fans should be excited about the NFL chances for all 3 former Hoos.
Tomorrow, we'll take a closer look at the Virginia guys who sign as undrafted free agents. We've already mentioned Jake Snyder (and Justin Renfrow), but hopefully there will be a few others to mention. And, of course, we'll take a closer look at Snyder (and maybe Renfrow as well.)