Gary Patterson pointed to his program’s emphasis on hard work and staying humble as two key factors in TCU’s recent draft success at a press conference Monday afternoon.
Patterson, who now has had 29 players drafted in his 10-year tenure at TCU and was recently named by ESPN.com as the nation’s best developer of talent, said NFL teams not only look for the most skilled players but also the guys who are willing to put in the extra effort.
“They’re looking for guys that have the ability and also who can work hard,” Patterson said. “That’s kind of become our trademark.”
Five former TCU players were selected in last weekend’s NFL Draft, but Patterson pointed to safety Colin Jones (sixth round, San Francisco) and cornerback Malcolm Williams (seventh round, New England) as perfect examples of program products who will have a chance to find a niche on an NFL squad.
Not very many people can be the number one wide receiver or number two wide receiver on an NFL team,” Patterson said. “How you make it is becoming a three, four, or five guy.”
Patterson said the reason someone like Williams, who never started a game in his two years as a Horned Frog but contributed regularly on special teams, gets drafted is because an NFL franchise knows what they’re going to get out of a player exiting a program like TCU.
“What happens is you build a reputation so where if it’s on the line between one guy and another guy they’re going to take the TCU guy,” Patterson said. “That’s why you see 10 (TCU players) get drafted in the last two years.”
Being stocked full of talent to the point where second-stringers like Williams get drafted, breeds success on the Division I level, Patterson said.
“You win championships with depth,” Patterson said. “Malcolm is just another example of that.”
And Patterson was confident, once the NFL lockout issues are resolved, undrafted former Frogs like center Jake Kirkpatrick and wide receiver Jimmy Young will find homes.
“We’re going to have three or four guys go free agents when all this plays out,” Patterson said.
Former TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, was hardly even on NFL scouts’ radars two years ago, but impressed enough people to get drafted 35th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals Friday, re-emphasized Patterson’s point.
“This program can get you to the NFL,” Dalton said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the starting quarterback or just playing special teams, there’s still an opportunity there.”