For the first time ever, Washington has a trio of players — Danny Shelton, Marcus Peters and Shaq Thompson — drafted in first round. “It’s crazy to think that I finally made it,” Shelton said.
The celebratory move, Danny Shelton admitted, was premeditated. But before his big bear hug of Commissioner Roger Goodell on stage, there was no way of knowing just how fitting a move it would be to kick off a historic night for the Huskies at the NFL draft.
For the first time, three former Huskies were selected in the first round of the same NFL draft, with Shelton hearing his name called first by Goodell on Thursday night. After the Cleveland Browns selected Shelton with the 12th pick, the 340-pound nose tackle took to the stage, wrapped his arms around the commissioner and lifted Goodell off his feet, drawing chuckles and cheers from the crowd at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre. (No, that doesn’t count as Shelton’s first NFL sack.)
“It was a little bit planned,” Shelton said, “but it was just an exciting time so I had to do it.”
Over the next couple hours, two of Shelton’s UW teammates were also drafted: Troubled cornerback Marcus Peters went 18th to the Kansas City Chiefs, and do-it-all All-American Shaq Thompson went 25th to the Carolina Panthers.
The last time UW had multiple first-round picks was 1995 (Napoleon Kaufman and Mark Bruener). There were also two Huskies selected in the first round in 1992 (Steve Emtman and Dana Hall) and in 1941 (Rudy Mucha and Dean McAdams).
The program never had three first-rounders before.
“I’m still speechless right now,” Thompson said in a conference call.
The selection of Thompson, perhaps the most versatile player in UW history, was one of the most surprising of the first round. Draft analysts were divided about his NFL potential, and Thompson he was prepared to go anywhere from No. 20 to No. 55.
“I had my mindset on being a second-round pick,” he said.
Shelton, wearing formal Samoan clothing to honor his heritage, was the one sure bet for UW. He had predicted either the Chicago Bears, at No. 7, or the Browns would draft him. Once the Bears passed on him, the Browns looked like a natural fit.
“It means everything to the people who are here with me right now, to the people who are watching back home. … It’s crazy to think that I finally made it,” Shelton said in an interview with ESPN on stage.
Shelton, an Auburn High School product, was the only player in the nation in 2014 to earn first-team All-America honors on the field and in the classroom.
“I love his temperament,” Browns general manager Ray Farmer said. “I love how he played. I love that this kid is a smart kid, high GPA — high school and college. The guy is a football player. We’re excited about the fact that we’re going to add a guy like that.”
Shelton’s selection came one day before the four-year anniversary of the death of his older brother Shennon in a shooting in Auburn. Shelton wore a button featuring a picture of Shennon on his left chest at the draft.
“I know my brother’s watching from up above,” he said.
Peters, meanwhile, had done enough damage control to earn the trust of the Chiefs. In November, Peters was dismissed from the UW program by first-year coach Chris Petersen after a series of discipline issues. Multiple NFL teams were reportedly concerned enough about Peters’ troubles that they dropped him entirely from the draft board, even though some scouts considered him the most talented cornerback in the draft. (ESPN analyst Jon Gruden on Thursday said Peters was the best cornerback “and it’s not even close.”)
“I think you can probably say he would have been a top-10 draft pick had (the troubles) not occurred,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
Peters had 11 interceptions in 34 games over three seasons for UW.
“How would I describe my style of play? Aggressive,” he told Kansas City reporters. “I’m going to do whatever it takes to protect my island and protect my team.”
At least one more UW player is expected to be drafted. Linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha, who led the nation with 19 sacks last season, is pegged somewhere in the second- to fourth-round range.
Shelton, Thompson and Kikaha last season became the first trio in UW history to all earn first-team All-America honors from The Associated Press.
Thursday, the Huskies made history again.
|Danny Shelton, Marcus Peters and Shaq Thompson were taken in the first round, the first time that has happened for UW. The Huskies had four players taken in the first round from 2002-2013.|