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May 3, 2011

What they're saying: NFL Draft II

After watching them throughout their careers at Mississippi State and hearing from them and their coaches, Bulldog fans have their own opinions of former MSU linebackers K.J. Wright and Chris White. Now, we take a look at the opinions of their new teams.

White fell to the sixth round, and he was picked up by the Buffalo Bills, who apparently thought they had some inside on White and appear to have considered him a diamond in the rough.

Wright, as you know by now, got the call from the Seattle Seahawks that he'd been drafted with the second pick in the fourth round while he was in the middle of graduation.

Now, here are some notes on what the Seahawks and Bills think about their new linebackers.

K.J. Wright

Wright may not have gone to New York, but his experience sounds like that of many first-rounders. He was called by the team that drafted him, a couple minutes later his name was called in front of a large crowd and then he walked on stage to get a handshake and a hug while the crowd cheered for him. Of course, the phone call had no relation to the rest of it, but it was quite a day for Wright

General Manager John Schneider: "We loved his versatility. He's a real smart guy, captain of the team. He's got some pass rush to him, but he's very good in coverage. Long guy. Very good athlete."

Head coach Pete Carroll: "It is rare that you would find a linebacker with that much length (6-foot-4) and 4.6 speed. We need that flexibility."

"I'll remind you guys that we played Brian Cushing at 'Leo' at SC and we played Clay Matthews at 'Leo' at SC, as well. K.J.'s got a chance to be that guy, too. So that gives him a chance to, really we're going to play him at (strong-side), we're going to look at him at the 'Leo' spot and we'll also see what he can do in nickel as a cover linebacker. … He's a very unique player and we need that flexibility."

Chris White

White told me before the draft he thought he could go in the fourth round, but he fell to the sixth round, and it appears the Bills had no hesitation in scooping him up when they saw White left on the board. NFL and NFL Draft analyst actually said he had White graded higher than Kelvin Sheppard, the linebacker from LSU that Buffalo drafted at the top of the third round, No. 68 overall.

Bills head coach Chan Gailey on Chris White: "We're going to start him inside. We think he's an inside guy. He's got some natural instincts. That's probably one of things that are to his advantage. He has natural instincts playing inside there. We had great reports on him. Both of us know the guy he played for in junior college, so we had some insider information so to speak there. And we knew what this guy was made of and knew that he did have some of those natural instincts you could see on film. But to hear another coach say it helps you."

The Bills website actually had a full question and answer session about White with their regional scouting director Shawn Heinlen. Here are the highlights of that:

"On his playing style: He's a tough, instinctive, hard-nosed football player. Chris has started two years there at Mississippi St. since being on campus and coming from a junior college. He started outside last year, inside this year. He's a instinctive player that plays downhill. The one thing that sticks out to me with Chris is you can actually see him going to the ball as it's snapped. His ability to diagnose plays and fill run lanes is something that he did better than anybody I saw this year on tape.

On his stock rising his senior year: With him, it was his second year on campus coming from a junior college, so I think he probably felt a little more comfortable playing for them and being in the system a second year. It made it easier for him to diagnose and play faster than he probably played his first year on campus.

On where he is more comfortable, outside or inside linebacker: He runs very well for a big man. He's a 4.75 guy, at 246 lbs. So he runs well for his size. He's a big kid.

On if he will be a special teams contributor: Definitely. He's going to be a guy that will be part of our core special teams unit right away when he gets here.

On what versatility he can bring: He's a very good athlete actually. He played some SAM there. He and K.J. Wright, who was picked earlier today, flip-flopped spots basically last year for them. He's got a lot of position flexibility. He can do some different things for us, should be able to run with tight ends and those types of things where he can give us some coverage ability as well."


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