Owls dominate the NFL draft again

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Penn State might be Linebacker U. and Miami (Ohio) The Cradle of Coaches but Temple is developing into NFL U.

At least in the G5 football world.

Hard to come to any other conclusion than this for current high school recruits based on the  2020 NFL draft. If those players have an eventual goal of making the NFL and are on the fence between picking a P5 or a G5 school, Temple is the place to go.

It’s not just the 2020 draft. It’s been that way for a while. The Owls have been the No. 1 Group of 5 team for nearly a decade in producing NFL draft choices.

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Over the three days of the 2020 draft, center Matt Hennessy was drafted in Round 2 by the Atlanta Falcons, defensive back Harrison Hand drafted in Round 5 by the Minnesota Vikings, and linebackers Shaun Bradley (Round 6, Philadelphia Eagles) and Chapelle Russell (Round 7, Tampa Bay) also were picked.

The reasons have been simple. Al Golden re-established a Temple TUFF culture that carried over into the next four coaches. Golden did it by making running, lifting and toughness a 365-day deal at the Edberg-Olson Complex. His practices were legendary for the level of hitting involved.  It is now up to Rod Carey to sustain that culture. Tyler Matakevich explained it perfectly once. “Our practices are harder than the games, so we’re really prepared to hit come game time,” he said.

Playing in an NFL stadium around an NFL culture also helps.

A couple of interesting things about this current draft: Had Quincy Roche come out instead of going to Miami, he would have been no lower than a No. 4 pick out of Temple. He was unquestionably the best player on a defense that included Bradley, Hand and Russell.

Hennessy will be joining former Temple center Alex Derenthal as a resident of Atlanta. Derenthal is the strength coach at Georgia State (which beat Tennessee last year).

Bradley is the first Temple player drafted by the Eagles in a long time and has a chance to stick if he can cut down on the targeting penalties. He plays hard through the whistle and sometimes beyond. I thought Mel Kiper’s analysis of Bradley was way off. He said Bradley “didn’t pack a punch” but I don’t think I’ve seen a Temple player hit as hard as Bradley over the last four years, and that includes Roche. If anything, he packs too much of a punch.

I wish the Eagles drafted Hennessy as well since Jason Kelce is getting long in the tooth. Yet the Eagles were set on Jalen Hurts in the second round. It might be just me, but Justin Jefferson was the best wide receiver in the draft and the Eagles could have had him in Round 1 and either Hennessy or Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins in Round 2 and been much better off. If they were concerned about the backup QB position, they could have upgraded from Nate Sudfeld and picked some better options in the lower rounds.

No doubt in my mind that the Owls had a better three days at the NFL draft than the other birds playing in the same stadium but only time will tell.

Russell will get every opportunity to shine as Bruce Arians has pretty much an all-Temple staff at Tampa Bay.

Getting drafted his one thing. Sticking in the NFL is another and, based on watching their careers here, I think all five of these guys have a good shot. The last 12 Temple players drafted currently are still on active rosters and only eight schools–all Power 5–have that kind of streak going. For the fourth time in five years, Temple has had more players drafted than any other G5 school. Only the “mythical national championship” team of UCF had more players drafted than Temple in the last five years.

Whatever happens, Temple should parlay NFL drafting success into attracting better recruits starting now.

Friday: Temple in the 2021 Draft

Monday (5/4): 5 Best Next-Tier Wins

Friday (5/8): Suspending Campaigns

Monday (5/11): Virtual Press Conference

Friday (5/15): Recruiting Patterns

Monday (5/18): Smoking Out The Winners