Former Cal Poly linebacker Kyle Shotwell was back on campus Wednesday talking to a reporter about this weekend’s NFL Draft when punter Tim Chicoine walked past pointing toward the logo on his navy blue and gold cap.
“The San Diego Chargers,” Chicoine quipped as he passed in front of Mott Gym.
It seems like everybody has a take on when and where former Mustangs defensive stars Shotwell and Courtney Brown will land in the seven-round draft, which begins Saturday and wraps up with the final four rounds Sunday.
But the truth of the matter is, nobody knows where the two small-school products will end up or if either one will be drafted at all. The players themselves don’t even know what to expect this weekend.
“People are asking me about the draft everywhere I go,” Shotwell said. “But they’re probably just as informed as I am about all of this. These (NFL) teams are really good about not showing their hand, especially with the guys like us who are supposed to be the ‘hidden gems’ of the draft.”
Both have been projected as second-day picks by a majority of the draft experts and online draft boards.
Brown, thanks to his eyepopping scouting day numbers, is now projected to go as high as the middle rounds, while Shotwell is projected to be a late-round or free-agent pickup.
“I really have no idea what’s going to happen,” said Brown, a cornerback. “Your guess is as good as mine. ... I’m just anxious to play football again and get this whole process over with.”
That process has been a sometimes grueling and stressful route for both players, coming from a Division I-AA school and missing out on the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The two have had to crash scouting days hosted by larger Division I-A schools such as San Jose State and Hawaii and have had to make the most out of each and every meeting with an NFL team or scout.
Shotwell, the Buck Buchanan Award winner who visited with a number of teams during the East-West Shrine Game, flew to Indianapolis last week for a physical and interview with the Super Bowl champion Colts.
Brown, whose draft stock has risen since running a 4.3 40-yard dash in San Jose last month, has visited Seattle, Green Bay, Kansas City and San Diego in recent weeks.
Former Cal Poly defenders Chris White and Kenny Chicoine have also worked out for scouts, although neither has been projected in any of the major mock drafts circulating around the Internet.
Then again, mock drafts conducted in recent weeks at Scout.com and ESPN.com failed to match Shotwell or Brown with the few franchises they have actually visited with, which shows just how uncertain the draft process can be.
In a team-by-team breakdown of the draft at Scout.com, Tom Marino recently projected Shotwell as a seventh-round pick of the St. Louis Rams. In another mock draft at ESPN.com, Scouts Inc.’s Todd McShay overlooked Shotwell but had Brown going to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fifth round.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Brown tied a Cal Poly Division I-AA record with seven interceptions as a junior but only had one interception as a senior as many opponents avoided throwing to his side of the field.
The 6-1, 230-pound Shotwell won the Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in Division I-AA, after leading the country in tackles for loss (1.91 a game) and finishing eighth in total tackles (11 a game).
“I try not to pay attention to all the Web sites and the mock drafts,” Shotwell said. “That kind of stuff can drive you crazy. A lot of those guys have never even seen you play, so there’s no way they can project where you’re going to go. At the end of the day, only the teams themselves — not the so-called experts — know what’s going to happen, and we won’t know that until the draft finally comes.”