Pair of Bears selected in NFL draft's 1st round for first time since 1957

June 24, 2011

For the first time in 54 years, Baylor had two players' names called in the first round of the NFL Draft when defensive tackle Phil Taylor was taken 21st overall by the Cleveland Browns and offensive lineman Danny Watkins was selected two picks later by the Philadelphia Eagles as the 2011 NFL Draft unfolded in late April.

"I was just really happy for Phil and Danny, because of the way they took this journey," said head coach Art Briles, who attended the draft with Taylor and Watkins at Radio City Music Hall. "They both did what they had to do on and off the field -- representing our university, preparing their bodies and their minds to be the best they can be on the field."

Offensive lineman Danny Watkins was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles
Offensive lineman Danny Watkins was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles

Two more Bears were selected in the seventh round: cornerback Mikail Baker (St. Louis Rams) and running back Jay Finley (Cincinnati Bengals). The four total draftees this year were Baylor's most since having five players selected in 1996. Only one Big 12 school, Nebraska, had more players drafted this year than Baylor.

The last time two Baylor players went in the first round was 1957, when Del Shofner went No. 11 to the Los Angeles Rams and Bill Glass went No. 12 to the Detroit Lions. After seeing just one Bear (Daryl Gardener, 1996) drafted in the NFL's first round from 1991-2008, three Baylor players have become first-round picks in Briles' three years in Waco (Taylor, Watkins and Jason Smith, who went No. 2 overall in 2009 to the Rams).