Sunday, April 27, 2008

Talib first first-round Jayhawk since 1993

Despite character questions, Tampa Bay selects cornerback with 20th pick


As Saturday's NFL Draft progressed further and further down the first round, former Kansas University cornerback Aqib Talib thought back to his visit with Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden recently.

"I had a real good conversation with coach Gruden," Talib said. "I felt good about it, that if I went to No. 20 that I'd be going to Tampa Bay."

Turns out, he was right.

At 4:20 p.m. Saturday, Talib became KU's first first-round draft pick since Dana Stubblefield in 1993. Tampa Bay selected Talib 20th overall, making him the lone Big 12 Conference player picked in the first round.

Talib became a millionaire just like that. Though negotiations will soon begin between the Bucs and Talib's agent, Todd France, recent history suggests that Talib is about to fill up his pockets.

Last year's No. 20 pick, Texas cornerback Aaron Ross, signed with the New York Giants for $13 million over five years. He received $8 million in guaranteed money.

Talib, 22, can expect a similar payday. And he's determined to earn his keep right out of the gate.

"That's the plan," Talib said. "I plan on making an impact, coming in, working hard and making an impact right away."

Gruden shares Talib's beliefs. Tampa Bay's Super Bowl-winning coach compares Talib to Charles Woodson, an electric playmaker who shined under Gruden when the two were with the Oakland Raiders.

"(Talib) has a lot to do, I think, with the explosion of Jayhawk football back on to the scene," Gruden said. "He just has a knack for making plays on both sides of the ball and on special teams."

It is defense, though, where Talib will earn his money. A consensus All-American for the 12-1 Jayhawks last season, Talib intercepted 13 passes and broke up 45 more in just 34 career games. He returned two for touchdowns in 2007 alone, including a 60-yard tone-setting return in the Orange Bowl.

Talib will join Tampa Bay's well-known Cover 2 defense, which is led by respected coordinator Monte Kiffin.

"We started to play a lot of Cover 2 my last year at Kansas," Talib said. "I think I'm ready for it. Coach Kiffin is a master of it. With his help, I'll be all right learning the scheme. I think I'll make a lot of plays."

Talib was the third cornerback selected on Saturday, behind Troy's Leodis McKelvin (No. 11, Buffalo) and Tennessee State's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (No. 16, Arizona).

Talib's biggest knock heading into the draft, perhaps, was character concerns stemming from marijuana use in college that reportedly led to three failed drug tests. Talib didn't deny the allegations Saturday, and Gruden confirmed that Talib came clean about the failed tests.

"He came out and was honest," Gruden said. "I'm not going to live in the past. I'm going to live in the future. I trust this kid."

Added Talib: "I went through a little stage in college. All that stuff happened 21â2 years ago. I learned from it. I'm a grown man now, and I've moved forward from that incident. It's all behind me."

The Buccaneers picked Talib over a hometown talent, cornerback Mike Jenkins of South Florida. Jenkins went five picks later to the Dallas Cowboys, perhaps a sign of how much the Bucs believe in how Talib can make them better.

Talib, of course, is well known for believing in his own abilties, one reason Tampa Bay snagged him at such a crucial stage of the draft.

"He just sits on the edge of his chair," Gruden said of Talib. "He just wants to go out and play. He wants to be playing ball. That's what he does. We need that. We need some playmaking. We need some confidence.

"I think he'll represent us well."


jayhawkinATL 12 years, 9 months ago

Love the quote by Gruden:"...the explosion of Jayhawk football back on to the scene"

kansas22 12 years, 9 months ago

Kind of ironic he was picked at 4:20? lol Anyways, good luck to Aqib, I have a feeling he'll do just fine at Tampa Bay under one of the best defensive minds around.

Mangino_Maniac 12 years, 9 months ago

Congrats Aqib!!!I think it's awesome that you were picked in the first round, and it's well deserved!In terms of all this 'character' talk, your statement about things happened in the past and it's all behind you is a great perspective and shows you're moving forward.I'll be following the Bucs this fall!

JJHawq 12 years, 9 months ago

I noticed that too - @ 4:20 - How appropriate.I'd rather have a player that smoked weed too much than drank booze, personally. Too bad the USA doesn't understand that alcohol is so much more dangerous...Wrong board, sorry - had to get my shot in.

sevenyearhawk 12 years, 9 months ago

I'd say that in the draft, as on the field, Talib's timing was perfect - 4:20 ... heh, heh!The Bucs are an awesome organization, the owners a bit kooky, and their current GM is no Rich McKay (now at Atlanta, he was there for the Super Bowl win) but Jon "Chucky" Gruden is a bad ass ...I think the Bucs still have their training camp at the Wide World of Sports in Orlando.I couldn't be any happier for Talib, and for the fact I might actually buy his Bucs jersey ...I lived in St. Pete for a few years, and was there when the Bucs won the Super Bowl ... here's to hoping that Talib has a long, successful career in the crimson and pewter!!

kataboom 12 years, 9 months ago

it would have even better if the draft was on 4.20 (april 20th)

KUAlum2000 12 years, 9 months ago

Too bad the Chiefs didn't get him instead of Flowers, but probably better for Talib in the long run. Would you rather play for Kiffin or get on the sinking ship of KC with Herm at the helm.

jhawk8487 12 years, 9 months ago

KU fans should boycott the Chiefs. All the KU players available and they can't take even one! Two picks remaining for KC, if they continue to ignore KU in favor of MU, then let the MU fans buy the tickets for those losers.

stravinsky 12 years, 9 months ago

Yeah! How dare an NFL team make picks contrary to my college affiliation! If I were them, it would have been Talib and Collins in the first round, henry in the second, fine and mcclinton in the third, mcanderson in the fourth, webb in the fifth, and tucker in the sixth. The seventh round picks I would allow to be used for non-KU players. My plan at drafting players based on where they went to college instead of based on scouting would be a great success. At making sure we got a top five pick for next year.

jhwkfanincali 12 years, 9 months ago

As a Buccanneers fan since the days of orange, I couldn't be more happier than this pick....I told my son as we were watching the Orange Bowl, "Aqib is coming to Tampa." Thought we were going to get Fine in the 4th or 5th....Haven't bought a Tampa jersey in years, but see a Talib one coming....By the way, ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK....2008 ORANGE BOWL AND NATIONAL CHAMPS...what a year!

actorman 12 years, 9 months ago

I love the sub-headine, "Depite character questions ..." What character questions??? Oh my God, the guy smoked some weed in college! He should clearly be jailed for life.

Bryan Summers 12 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, I don't get the 4:20 connection, either. Enlighten me!

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