Daily Archive for April 29th, 2008

NFL ‘Pulls a Coleman’, Sacks Bama

TUSCALOOSA Without saying a word, the NFL collectively passed clear judgment this weekend on Alabama’s 2008 draft class.

The Crimson Tide was not included among the 252 selections in this year’s NFL draft. It was the first time Alabama has been shut out since 1970, the year the American Football League officially joined the NFL.

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“We’re just really confused,” offensive lineman Justin Britt said. “I mean, this doesn’t make any sense.”  

One after another, prospects from smaller programs and stature were picked ahead of Alabama stars like defensive end Wallace Gilberry, defensive back legacy Simeon Castille and record-breaking receiver DJ Hall.

In all, seven teams the Tide defeated in 2007 combined to have 15 draftees, including four first-round selections.

“I was very surprised,” Gilberry said, “just for the simple fact that me, DJ and Simeon were by far better than half the guys that were chosen in front of us, if not all of them.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” receiver Matt Caddell said. “I was just looking for the first Bama guy. I was most surprised about DJ and Gilberry. I was kind of shocked they didn’t get draft ed.”

After Sunday’s final five rounds passed uneventfully, Alabama’s contingent quickly began securing free agent deals.

Former Baldwin County standout Gilberry watched the draft with friends and family near Mobile. He wound up agreeing Sunday night to a deal with the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

“A lot of people were blowing a lot of smoke, crying wolf, so I was kind of glad I didn’t get drafted once it got past the sixth round,” Gilberry said. “I felt like the Giants, not only are they the champions, but their style of defense and the way they play, I definitely could see myself fitting somewhere in their defense.”

Castille and Britt both agreed to terms with the Cincinnati Bengals. Britt said he received a seventh-round call from the Baltimore Ravens, who told him they would take him or a running back with their final pick.

They then took Oklahoma running back Allen Patrick at No. 240, leaving Britt to choose Cincinnati over offers from Baltimore, Tampa Bay and New England, where his brother Wesley played last season.

“I almost got drafted,” Britt said, “but I couldn’t believe Wallace and DJ and Simeon didn’t get drafted. It doesn’t make any sense at all. A lot of these guys going in their same position, and I just don’t think they can match up with these guys I’ve been playing with for four years.”

Among others likely to land a free agent contact, Hall’s agent was in negotiations late Sunday. Caddell and fellow receiver Keith Brown had not heard anything definite as of early Sunday night.

Castille and Britt are due at mini-camp by the end of week in the hopes of making the team as a free agent.

It can happen. Castille’s brother Tim, a former Tide fullback, wasn’t drafted last year and wound up earning a roster spot with the Arizona Cardinals.

“Just because a guy isn’t taken in the first round or those early rounds,” Simeon Castille said last week, “it doesn’t mean that he can’t have an awesome impact in the NFL.”