I’m talking about pro football a lot today. I’m excited for it. Sorry, I’m not sorry.
Last year’s NFL draft was a coup for Florida State, the ACC, and in turn Coach Stoops. The Seminoles led the nation with 11 players selected in the NFL draft, beating out the SEC as Alabama and LSU each had 9 selected, with Florida and Georgia finishing with 8. Of Florida State’s 11 players drafted, 7 were on the defensive side of the football.
The 2013 draftees on the Florida State Defense:
First round pick Bjoern Werner is projected as the number 2 OLB for the Colts behind 6 year vet Erik Walden. The 49ers drafted two Stoops products–Cornellius Carradine and Nick Moody. Carradine will likely remain in reserves for the season, barring significant injuries while Nick Moody is projected as the third option at ILB behind All-Pro Patrick Willis. The Vikings snagged two FSU defensive players in 2013; Xavier Rhodes was their first round selection who could make an appearance as the second option at left corner. Sixth round pick Vince Williams has the potential to see the field this season as the second option at left inside linebacker.
Every time one of these rookies sees the field this season, it is like an infomercial for Coach Stoops and his ability to develop talent. NFL commentators love analyzing rookie play–and where they played their college ball. In terms of Stoops’ development of talent a prime example is Vince Williams. He was a three-star player coming out of high school according to Scout, and now has a chance to get playing time for the Steelers early in his rookie season. Xavier Rhodes went from the 50th rated player at wide receiver, his primary position out of high school, to being All-ACC and a first round NFL draft pick. This speaks volumes to recruits. It also doesn’t hurt that Stoops turned around both Arizona and Florida State’s defenses, both rated outside of the top 100, to top 25 defenses in a short time. Playing in the “right” system under a good coach can sometimes make or break a scout’s decision of a particular player.
Of Coach Stoops’s 13 total NFL Draft picks in his three seasons as defensive coordinator at Florida State, 2 are assured to be starters this afternoon. Dekoda Watson, 2010 Florida State draftee to the Bucaneers should start today at strongside linebacker in their game against the Jets. 2011 FSU draftee, Nigel Bradham will be starting at inside linebacker for the Bills against the Patriots.
Prior to Stoops’ time at Florida State, he coached five Arizona defensive players who were drafted, including first round pick and current Cardinals cornerback Antoine Cason.
As defensive backs coach at Miami, Stoops was involved in the 2001 championship team that absolutely crushed Nebraska, highlighted by free safety Ed Reed and strong safety Sean Taylor. As a safety at Miami, Sean Taylor was a unanimous All-American for the Hurricanes in 2001 and first round draft pick by the Redskins in 2004. He tragically passed away in November of 2007 from gunshot wounds inflicted by intruders in his Miami home.
If you’re on a sports blog, you know who Ed Reed is–the two time All-American safety at Miami and eleven year veteran, 9-time Pro Bowler, and XLVII Super Bowl champion is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens. The veteran is now a Houston Texan, as the team was looking to add some experience to get over the hump in the playoffs. He is doubtful for the Monday Night Football matchup against the Chargers as he’s been sidelined with a hip injury through camp, and much of the off season.
Stoops also coached the likes of first round picks Antrel Rolle, formerly of the Cardinals, and now starting Strong Safety for the New York Giants. He’ll be on the field against the Dallas Cowboys on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
Kentucky fans should feel confident in the future of the Kentucky defense under D.J. Eliot and Mark Stoops. Stoops made Arizona a competitive defense in his time as coordinator, and we all know how quickly he turned around the train wreck that was the Florida State defense in Tallahassee. Yesterday’s adjustments by the staff prior to the Miami game, were clearly a success, as the defense allowed only 122 total yards and no offensive scoring.
Stoops has coached 27 defensive draft picks who share a total of three Super Bowl rings between them. Ed Reed at 34 years old is still one of the most recognizable faces on defense in the NFL. He broke the interception return yards record in 2012 against the Bengals, but now that he’s out of the AFC North, I will be rooting for the guy.
It’s all about branding in the modern college game. Our Stoops here in the Bluegrass has brought the family name, enthusiasm, and experience with him, and will use it to build up this Kentucky program into a competitive one. Add in the Ohio connections, the chance for immediate playing time, and of course, the defensive players he’s gotten in the NFL, and you have a shot at being a bowl team consistently.
Stoops has only had the chance to coach one side of the ball through most of his career. We’ll see what he can do with both.