By Jordan Smith, Lariat Sports Writer
Every year, a group of players decide to further their football career and go to the NFL Draft, hoping that one of the 32 NFL teams will recognize their talents and give them the opportunity to showcase those talents on the big stage, the NFL. This year was no exception.
In the 2016 NFL Draft, there were six Bears drafted, most of whom were drafted from the fourth round and on. The football players who were drafted are wide receiver Corey Coleman, cornerback Xavien Howard, nose tackle Andrew Billings, offensive guard Spencer Drango, long snapper Jimmy Landes and tight end Rico Gathers. According to nfl.com, the last time 6 players were drafted from Baylor was in 1987. There has been four different draft classes since 1987 where five players have were drafted in that year (1992, 1996, 2012 and 2014).
Coleman and Drango both headed to the Cleveland Browns. While at Baylor, Coleman recorded 33 touchdowns in three years at Baylor, as well as 3,009 receiving yards during that span. He also won the Fred Biletnikoff Award for best wide receiver in college football. The Browns already have two former Bears on their roster: wide receiver Josh Gordon and quarterback Robert Griffin III. This bit of familiarity may help them as they transition to the new style of play in the NFL. This bit of familiarity may help them as they transition to the new style of play in the NFL.
Howard, who was drafted by the Miami Dolphins, and Billings, drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, do not have the benefit of having former Bears on the rosters they were drafted onto.
Howard, in his three years at Baylor, had a total of 84 tackles, 10 interceptions and 23 passes deflected. Billings had 58 solo tackles, 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles recorded in his three years at Baylor.
Landes, who appeared in 40 games during his four years, went to the Detroit Lions. His stats included one tackle and one fumble recovery. Adding Landes as a long snapper will get him in on special teams, so his playing time will be limited. However, he does have a former Bear on the team: wide receiver Jay Lee. Landes should be fine with playing time, but the hard part will be the learning the process of going from college special teams to the pro style special teams.
Unlike the others, Gathers was a college basketball star for the Bears and didn’t once play football while at Baylor. He does have a teammate, Terrance Williams, who was a former Bear and wide receiver. Gathers played football while in high school but stopped playing when he got to college in order to pursue basketball.