The Indianapolis Colts took Texas Christian rush linebacker/defensive end Jerry Hughes at No. 31, which basically sealed Rodger Saffold’s fate. My story about him falling to the second round follows.
The mock drafts had Rodger Saffold going in the first round, but alas, the real one didn’t.
The Indiana offensive tackle had seen his stock rise steadily since the end of his final season as a Hoosier, and going into Thursday’s first round of the NFL Draft, many prognosticators had him sneaking in to the end of the first round.
However, 32 names were called by commissioner Roger Goodell, and Saffold’s was not one of them. Indiana hasn’t had a first round pick since wide receiver Thomas Lewis went to the New York Giants at No. 24 overall in 1994, and the streak continued.
“I’m a little disappointed,” said Saffold, who watched the draft at a restaurant in Cleveland, hear his hometown of Bedford, Ohio. “But there’s nothing you can do about that. I’ve always shown that I’ve been a fighter. They told me I was two stars coming in as a freshman in college, the next thing you know I’m starting. This is just the same thing. I’m going to go ahead in the second round and keep propelling myself forward.”
Going into Thursday night, the Dallas Cowboys appeared to be the team that would be the first to consider picking Saffold at No. 27. However, the Cowboys instead decided to trade up for wide receiver Dez Bryant at No. 24.
The next team that appeared likely to take Saffold was Indianapolis at No. 31, which was where Saffold’s name most often popped up in mock drafts.
The Colts instead opted to take Texas Christian defensive end/rush linebacker Jerry Hughes. That pretty much sealed Saffold’s fate, as the New Orleans Saints didn’t have a need at left tackle at No. 32.
“We kind of looked at Indianapolis as the last team that would take him in the first round,” said Jared Fox, Saffold’s agent. “Everybody was off the board that we could have asked for, other than the guy they took. That was the one guy I was concerned about.”
Fox said neither he nor Saffold were contacted by any teams during the evening.
“Nothing tonight,” Fox said. “Typically, we’re not going to hear anything. Nobody’s telling you to get ready to be picked if they’re not picking you, because then, they’re just liars. It just happens on a pick-by-pick basis.”
Considering how far Saffold has come since January, though, being taken in the second or third round would have to be considered a success.
Saffold only allowed one sack last season and the 6-foot-6, 316-pounder was a big reason Indiana allowed the second fewest sacks in the Big Ten. He was a three-year starter, and earned second-team all-conference honors from coaches as a senior.
However, when the season ended in November, he was considered a late round draft pick by most prognosticators.
His stock started to rise considerably, however, after his outstanding performance for scouts the week of the East-West Shrine game in Orlando in January. It ascended even higher at the NFL Draft Combine in February in Indianapolis, as he was listed as a top performer in four of the six drills the offensive linemen competed in. He had a strong pro day in Indianapolis and also performed well in individual workouts with teams. That gave prognosticators reason to believe that he could sneak into the first round.
In the end it didn’t happen, but Saffold said before the draft he wouldn’t get his hopes up too high that such a slide would be an emotional blow.
“I’ll be fine,” he said. “I’m not really worried about it. I can’t worry about it. I can’t stand still.”