Last season was a memorable one for the TCU football program. Not only did the team win the Rose Bowl, but eight former Frogs were taken in either April’s NFL draft or signed with a team as a free agent. These rookies will face many hardships as they adapt to the faster pace of NFL football in a constricted time frame.
Andy Dalton, the winningest quarterback in TCU history, was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round with the 35th pick overall. Long-time Cincinnati quarterback, Carson Palmer, chose to retire rather than continue to play for the Bengals. This gives Dalton the opportunity to compete against Bruce Gradkowski and Jordan Palmer for the starting gig. Dalton was the Bengals’ preseason starter and went 11-15 for 69 yards in his first start. Dalton’s former TCU teammate Bart Johnson signed as a free agent with the Bengals, but the native from Brownwood, Texas was cut from the team Aug. 23.
Star wideout and return specialist, Jeremy Kerley was taken by the New York Jets in the fifth round with the 153th pick overall. Kerley will be behind Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress on the depth chart, but he will play slot receiver, a position he excelled at on the collegiate level. Kerley will return kicks and punts and could even play quarterback in the wildcat formation. He has an excellent mentor in former Frog LaDainian Tomlinson.
The New England Patriots drafted two TCU players, offensive guard Marcus Cannon and cornerback Malcolm Williams. Cannon was drafted in the fifth round with the 138th pick overall. However, Cannon was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma during the offseason. The Patriots drafted him not knowing if he would be able to play this season. Cannon is doing extremely well and even may be able to participate in practice soon. Once he is fully recovered, he will be charged with protecting reigning NFL MVP, Tom Brady. Williams was drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round with the 219th overall pick.
Safety Colin Jones was drafted by the 49ers in the sixth round with the 190th overall pick. Jones notched 10 tackles and a sack in the Rose Bowl. The Bridgeport, Texas native will try to help improve a secondary for San Francisco, which ranked 24th in pass defense last year.
Former Frog receivers Jimmy Young and Curtis Clay weren’t drafted, but they will get a chance to make an NFL squad. The Dallas Cowboys signed Clay as a free agent in August after the team cut the injured wide receiver Titus Ryan. Young was also signed to a free agent contract by the Chicago Bears.
TCU coach Gary Patterson has his work cut out for him replacing all these players, but if Patterson has proven anything during his tenure here, it is that TCU football doesn’t rebuild. They reload.