Donte Whitner and Anthony Schlegel hit the jackpot.
Both are great players, but each certainly was drafted higher than many expected. Both the draft experts as well as the casual draft observers felt Donte would go on day one but would be a late first rounder at best. He finds himself picked higher than Matt Leinart, the USC glamour boy that people projected No. 1 overall in 2005.
Why did Donte go so high? Film study and attitude. The NFL is a business. They want people who are professionals and prepare like professionals. 4.3 forty yard dashes are a dime a dozen when you look at defensive backs. It is just the price of admission for NFL cornerbacks and many safeties.
Donte was banged up a few times at OSU. His career wasn’t a picture of health. He didn’t start as many games as many players drafted, but his work ethic preparing for games made the difference. What a great 2005 season he had. He closes the gap hitting the gas pedal. He is thick from the hours in the weight room. I still remember that final minute against Texas. The entire stadium knew nothing short of a miracle was needed to pull out the game. Who was playing with the most intensity when the game was basically over? It was Donte.
Schlegel was projected in a late round, and many folks said he would land in a camp as a free agent. Sure he has the knowledge, and sure he can attack the running game. But how well can he run after that knee was dinged?
Well, his pro day was terrific. Don’t believe people that say, “What is the difference between a 4.7 and a 4.5? Is there really anything different about a 4.8 and a 4.6? ‘Is he a football player’ is the real question.” Yes, there is a difference between forty times. You can see it. You need to cover a certain amount of ground in a certain time. If you threw out the stopwatches during a pro day, I guarantee these scouts and coaches could tell who is covering that ground in that amount of time. The human eye can tell the difference if you watch enough of it.
Well, Schlegel dove into that 4.7 range. Without looking down at the watches, I know myself and the people I was standing around thought, “Wow. He is moving. The questions about his knee and his running were just answered.”
5 players drafted in the first 29 is special. We will watch the NFL games with more interest because of these Buckeyes.