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April 27, 2009

Drafted Huskies face long future

When the first two rounds of the NFL Draft were over on Saturday night, only USC's total of five players selected was higher than the four players leaving UConn.

"I mean, jeez, that just says a lot about the efforts of those players and the coaches," UConn head coach Randy Edsall told reporters after the first day of the draft concluded Saturday night. "It's hard to describe it."

All four players - running back Donald Brown, cornerback Darius Butler, offensive tackle Will Beatty and defensive end/outside linebacker Cody Brown - will have a chance to make an immediate impact with their new teams. What are the odds of seeing the four former Huskies on the field next season?

Running back Donald Brown
Drafted: First round, No. 27 overall to the Indianapolis Colts
What He Faces: Called a "scintillating player" by Indianapolis general manager Bill Polian, Brown immediately becomes the Colts' primary back-up to Joseph Addai. It will be a good fit for Brown, who now finds himself part of a team that has embraced the multiple-back approach over the past two seasons. Plus, with Addai's numbers reaching career lows in carries, yards and yards per carry last season, Brown may have the chance to become the Colts' featured back before long.

Cornerback Darius Butler
Drafted: Second round, No. 41 overall to the New England Patriots
What He Faces: Many pre-draft reports had the Patriots looking at Butler with their first-round pick, and the cornerback's chances of staying in New England to continue his professional career looked bleak when the Patriots traded out of the first round. But with Butler still on the board a round later, New England had to make a move to grab him. There's already discussion that the team that used wide receiver Troy Brown as a cornerback will do take advantage of Butler's similar versatility. He'll likely start the season as a back-up.

Offensive tackle Will Beatty
Drafted: Second round, No. 60 overall to the New York Giants
What He Faces: Routinely regarded as a first-round talent before the weekend, Beatty slipped to the late second round because of concerns regarding whether or not his strong senior season was an aberration. Beatty will have the opportunity to prove those who passed on him wrong by taking the field three hours from his York, Pa. home, but will probably spend much of his first year, if not the entire time, entrenched behind David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie, the Giants' starting tackles.

Defensive end/outside linebacker Cody Brown
Drafted: Second round, No. 63 overall to the Arizona Cardinals
What He Faces: Few players had their draft stock soar higher in the days leading up to the NFL Draft than Brown, whose agility and athleticism propelled him from a mid-round pick to the second round. While concerns about Brown's size will disqualify him from playing a role as a traditional defensive end, he will play a role in the Cardinals' 3-4 defensive scheme. Brown doesn't figure to see the field in pressure situations his first season while he learns the nuances of playing outside linebacker, but he could be a long-term success learning under Arizona defensive coordinator Bill Davis.

Zac Boyer, the editor and publisher of UConnReport.com, covers UConn sports on the Rivals network. He can be reached by e-mail at zacboyer@rivals.com.
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