NEW YORK -- Kyle Orton certainly looked like a first-round
NFL draft pick when he was tossing touchdowns at a torrid pace and
leading Purdue to a 5-0 start.
Then injuries derailed Orton's breakthrough season and instead
of competing with Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers to be the first
quarterback taken, he ended up being the first quarterback selected
Sunday on the second day of the draft.
Orton went to the Chicago Bears with the fifth pick of the
fourth round, No. 106 overall, and was the seventh quarterback to
"I thought maybe I would slide maybe to the third round at the
latest and really thought I would go somewhere in the second," he
said. "I'm really not too worried about it."
Orton was one of several big-name college stars to get the call
from the NFL on the draft's second day.
Louisville quarterback Stefan LeFors, the NCAA's highest-rated
passer last season, joined Orton in the fourth round, going to
Carolina at No. 121.
LeFors is a Louisiana native like current Carolina starter Jake Delhomme.
"I just met him this past Easter, we went to his house down in
Breaux Bridge and it's funny because my wife, they're somehow
related through marriage," said LeFors, from Baton Rouge. "As we
were leaving his house I said 'Man, it would be great to go
Minnesota running back Marion Barber III, whose father played
for the New York Jets, was selected in the fourth round by the
Dallas Cowboys, three picks ahead of running back Ciatrick Fason of
Florida, who went to Minnesota.
Both Barber and Fason passed up their junior seasons to enter
Oklahoma cornerback Antonio Perkins, who owns the NCAA records
for punt return touchdowns in a game with four and a career with
eight, went to Cleveland with the second pick of the fourth round.
Two other intriguing players went three picks apart in the fifth
Quarterback Adrian McPherson, who played two seasons at Florida
State before pleading no contest in 2003 to gambling and stolen
check charges, was taken with the 152nd choice by New Orleans. He
played in the Arena Football League last season.
Larry Brackins, a wide receiver from Pearl River Community
College in Mississippi, went to St. Louis with the 155th pick. The
Rams also picked wideout Dante Ridgeway, who left Ball State after
leading the country in receiving as a junior, in the sixth round.
Anttaj Hawthorne, one of four players to test positive for
marijuana at the combine in Indianapolis, went with the first pick
in the sixth round to the Oakland Raiders. The 320-pound defensive
tackle from Wisconsin was first projected to be a first-day pick,
but a mediocre showing at the combine had his stock dropping even
before the positive test.
The New England Patriots made TE Andy Stokes of William Penn the final pick of the draft, No. 255 overall.
Orton's stock was off the charts early last season, when he
threw for 1,642 yards, 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions in
his first five games.
At 6-foot-3 and 226 pounds, Orton looked like a prototype NFL
But a hip injury in mid-October was a big reason why Orton fell
from September star to NFL draft afterthought. Purdue lost four
straight after its fast start as Orton tried to play through the
injury for a while but never regained that great form.
"It was just tough," Orton said. "The fact that I got hurt
and obviously we got off as a team to a great start and
individually I got off to a great start also, and, you know, to get
hurt and not be able to play in the tough stretch where we lost
four games in a row, it was obviously hard but I thought I bounced
back pretty well at the end of the season."
He'll head to Chicago as insurance for Rex Grossman, a
first-round pick in 2003 from Florida who had a season-ending knee
injury in the third game of last season.
Orton should get every opportunity to be Grossman's backup. The
Bears were the worst offense in the league last season and went
through three quarterbacks trying to find a replacement after
Grossman was injured.
"To get someone of that caliber in the fourth round, I think
it's a great deal," new Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner
said. "He is a first- or second-round talent. He's a very talented
young man and I'm very familiar with him."
Orton was 35-for-50 for 366 yards and four TDs against Turner's
Illinois team last season.