The Seattle Seahawks made the first big shocker on NFL Draft night by taking Bruce Irvin DE/OLB from West Virginia. The San Francisco 49ers created another big surprise when they took WR A.J. Jenkins out of Illinois with the 30th pick. It marks the first time two Illini have been selected in the first round of an NFL draft since Kevin Hardy and Simeon Rice in 1996.
Illinois now has 5 first round picks in the last five years, the most in the Big Ten. That’s a very surprising stat isn’t?
The Niners defense was so strong last year, you knew they were going to go offense this draft. And now they have plenty of pass catchers: Mario Manningham, Vernon Davis, Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree etc.
“I can learn from all of those guys, it’s great to be around so many that I can learn from. It’s great to be there- I’m happy,” Jenkins said on conference call with the media after being drafted.
Jenkins graded out as a mid-second to early 3rd rounder, so this was a very pleasant surprise to him, and Illini Nation. In the summer Jenkins had some big individual and team goals, and he talked big. He even called himself the best receiver in the Big Ten, and he did his best to try and live up to that by having the best single season in Illini receiving history. And now he caps it off by being a first pick- something even Arrelious Benn did not accomplish.
And it’s not the first time the Niners have drafted a receiver out of Illinois- Brandon Lloyd in 2002.
“I’m just excited to be a part of a great organization, a great program, I’m very excited.”
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