By Jonathan Okanes
Sunday, April 27th, 2008 at 10:12 pm in off-season stuff.
If all the signs didn’t point toward running back Justin Forsett being a mid-round draft pick during this weekend’s NFL draft, it may not have been as surprising that he almost wasn’t picked at all. Forsett doesn’t exactly have the breakaway speed or brute size that makes him highly coveted by NFL scouts.
But what Forsett does have is shiftiness, balance, strength and most important, productivity. It is those traits that made him, by most prognosticators, a solid fifth or sixth round draft pick.
But it took 233 selections for Forsett to finally hear his name called Sunday. With just 20 picks remaining, Forsett was picked up in the seventh round by the Seattle Seahawks, reuniting him with former teammates Brandon Mebane and Nu’u Tafisi.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Forsett said by phone Sunday afternoon. “This is what my life has always been like, like just getting into Cal. This is nothing different.”
Forsett said he actually went to sleep during the draft and was woken by phone calls by teams pursuing him as a free agent once the draft was complete. He said he actually was on the phone with the Buffalo Bills when the Seahawks called to inform him they were taking him.
“I had to hang up and take their phone call,” Forsett said.
Forsett was one of six Cal players taken in this year’s draft, a school record for a seven-round draft. The Bears had six players picked in the 1977 draft, when it consisted of 12 rounds.
Some may have been surprised that tight end Craig Stevens went in the third round to the Tennessee Titans, but after his performance in the combine in February, I had heard he could even slip into the second round. Stevens didn’t put up huge numbers last season, but he has proven he can make plays in the passing game and is well regarded as a blocking tight end. He was the seventh tight end taken in the draft.
Stevens sounded excited that he will be reunited with wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins in Tennessee. Hawkins was picked by the Titans in the fourth round. I think that may have been a bit low. Hawkins may have hurt his cause with a disappointing 40-time at the combine, although he improved on it at Cal’s pro day. But after his fine performance at the Senior Bowl, it seemed as though Hawkins had moved firmly into the second round. I think Hawkins could end up being a very good pro.
Safety Thomas DeCoud went right where he was believed to go, in the third round. He also went to a team that he said was very interested, the Atlanta Falcons. DeCoud actually had held out hope he may sneak into the second round because Atlanta and Miami, the two teams that seemed the most interested, had a combined five second-round selections.
It was a mild surprise that Mike Gibson was taken in the sixth round, by the Eagles. Gibson put himself on the map with an excellent combine, but he seemed to be a fringe draftee. After playing tackle at Cal, he will move to guard or center in the NFL. Gibson said he had no idea the Eagles were interested in taking him.
Gibson will also be reunited with a former teammate, wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Of course, it was a big story Saturday when Jackson slipped into the middle of the second round. It turns out his dimunitive stature likely was a turn-off to NFL teams, after all.
There should be a few other Cal players who get a look via free agency — wide receiver Robert Jordan, punter Andrew Larsen and possibly guard Brian De La Puente.