Utah Utes football: Tony Bergstrom glad wait for NFL Draft will soon be over
Keith Johnson, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Tony Bergstrom admits he's been "bored out of his mind" waiting for the NFL Draft to roll around. It's something the former Utah offensive lineman has eagerly anticipated for a long, long time.
"It's a dream come true," said Bergstrom, who is expected to be the first Ute taken this year. "It's one of those things that you kind of dream about doing ever since you were a little kid, so now I'm lucky enough to be one of those that gets to do it."
Bergstrom plans to live the dream for as long as he can. He'll complete the waiting game at home, though, opting to keep things low key during the draft proceedings Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
"I think it will mostly be a relief when the phone rings and you see your name. So I think that's mostly what it's going to be," Bergstrom said. "You spend months sitting here trying to figure out where you're going to go and what's going to happen and if you're going to go."
Getting that 'if' question answered, he acknowledged, will be a weight off his shoulders.
Although the New York Jets recently flew him to their team headquarters for a closer look, Bergstrom isn't sure where he'll be drafted.
"It's pretty much just a giant crapshoot for me," he said. "I've heard pretty much everything."
Mock drafts have the Pac-12 first-team honoree pegged anywhere from the second to seventh round. Aside from USC's Matt Kalil at the top, Bergstrom noted that most of the other offensive line draft prospects are kind of in the same boat. Destinations will have more to do with specific teams' needs, same goes for whether Bergstrom will be asked to play guard or tackle at the next level.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham expects Bergstrom to be the earliest Ute drafted this year. Whittingham said that left tackle John Cullen and defensive end Derrick Shelby are two others that NFL scouts have shown a lot of interest in.
"Then we've got four or five other guys that if they don't get drafted late would be hopeful to get signed as free agents," Whittingham said.
Cornerback Conroy Black, outside linebacker Matt Martinez, middle linebacker Chaz Walker and fullback Shawn Asiata top that cast.
Whittingham credits the recruiting of his assistant coaches for the high NFL interest in Utah players. The Utes had a record six players drafted in 2010, plus two last year and four in 2009.
Former Ute Eric Weddle of the San Diego Chargers knows what the potential draftees are going through. He was drafted in the second round in 2007.
"It'll be nerve-racking. A million thoughts will go through your mind but you just can't control where you go or where you get picked — just be excited about the opportunity and excited about a chance to play in the NFL," Weddle said. "It's a dream come true. It's a dream you've had since you were a little kid. So regardless of what happens, just be excited and happy for the moment and go make the most of it."
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Drafted Utes since 2000
2011 — CB Brandon Burton (5th round, Vikings); OG Caleb Schlauderaff (6th round, Packers).
2010 — LB Koa Misi (2nd round, Dolphins); OG Zane Beadles (2nd round, Broncos), S Robert Johnson (5th round, Titans); WR David Reed (5th round, Ravens); LB Stevenson Sylvester (5th round, Steelers); S R.J. Stanford (7th round, Panthers).
2009 — DE Paul Kruger (2nd round, Ravens); CB Sean Smith (2nd round, Dolphins); CB Brice McCain (6th round, Texans); WR Freddie Brown (7th round, Bengals).
2007 — S Eric Weddle (2nd round, Chargers); DT Paul Soliai (4th round, Dolphins).
2006 — LB Spencer Toone (7th round, Titans); RB Quinton Ganther (7th round, Titans).
2005 — QB Alex Smith (1st round, 49ers); DT Sione Pouha (3rd round, Jets); OG Chris Kemoeatu (6th round, Steelers); WR Paris Warren (7th round, Buccaneers); DE Jonathan Fanene (7th round, Bengals).
2003 — OT Jordan Gross (1st round, Panthers); DT Lauvale Sape (6th round, Bills); S Antwoine Sanders (7th round, Ravens).
2002 — WR Clifford Russell (3rd round, Redskins); OG Ed Ta'amu (4th round, Vikings).
2001 — DB Andre Dyson (2nd round, Titans); WR Steve Smith (3rd round, Panthers).
2000 — DE John Frank (6th round, Eagles); RB Mike Anderson (6th round, Broncos); DT Richard Seals (7th round, Jets).
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