Friday, April 23, 2010

IU's Saffold Has Starting Opportunity With Rams

Maybe Rodger Saffold (photo courtesy of IU athletics) needs a new best friend. Hey, it’s possible. The Indiana offensive lineman is, after all, set to become a multi-millionaire with his selection as the 33rd pick (the first pick of the second round) in the NFL Draft courtesy of the St. Louis Rams.

Yes, it wasn’t the late first-round opportunity Saffold had hoped for (why did the Dallas Cowboys go for receiver Dez Bryant and the Indianapolis Colts go for defensive tackle Jerry Hughes instead of this four-year Hoosier starter?), but he’s in the league and will soon be signing for serious money. Who knows? He might need help spending it.

For now, though, Saffold needs to start thinking about protecting quarterback Sam Bradford, the NFL’s No. 1 pick and the future of the St. Louis offense. The Rams ignored several trade offers because they wanted an instant-impact lineman. Saffold could get a shot at starting as a rookie because of the struggles of veteran Rams left tackle Alex Barron.

Saffold is the first IU lineman drafted since Cleveland took Isaac Sowells in 2006 and the first IU lineman selected in the second round since Andrew Greene was the No. 53 pick by the Miami Dolphins in 1995. He will join former Hoosier Victory Adeyanju, a defensive end picked by the Rams in the fourth round of the 2006 draft.

Saffold started 41 games in his college career. Last season he anchored a staff the allowed just 16 sacks, second best in the Big Ten. He made All-Big Ten.

“The entire football program is very happy for Rodger,” coach Bill Lynch said in a university release. “Rodger was a mainstay on our offensive line. He developed into an elite left tackle and one of our team captains. St. Louis is getting a tremendous player and a young man who will represent the organization in a first-class manner.”

For those who downplay Indiana’s football prowess, consider Saffold is the third Hoosier to be selected in the second round in three years. Cornerback Tracy Porter (New Orleans) and receiver James Hardy (Buffalo) were the 40th and 41st picks in 2008.

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