Former Gaucho drafted in first round of NFL Draft

Former Gauchos offensive lineman Kyle Long was drafted in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. (Photo courtesy of Saddleback College Athletics Department)

Michael Grennell

UPDATE (4:42 p.m.): Former Gaucho offensive lineman Menelik Watson has been selected by the Oakland Raiders in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Watson played with the Gauchos during the 2011 season, before transferring to Florida State this last year.

Updated 11:05 p.m.

Former Gaucho offensive lineman Kyle Long was drafted by the Chicago Bears with the 20th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft Thursday evening.

Long is the son of NFL Hall of Fame defensive lineman Howie Long and brother of current St. Louis Ram Chris Long. Chris was drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft. Howie played for 13 seasons with the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders, and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2000.

In his first season at Saddleback in 2010, Long played at defensive end, finishing the year with 16 tackles, including one sack. In the following offseason, Long transitioned across the field to the offensive line, where he started every game in 2011 at offensive tackle. He transferred to University of Oregon in 2012, where he started four games at guard for the Ducks.

At the NFL Combine in March, Long recorded the third fastest 40-yard dash time among offensive linemen (4.93 seconds) as well as putting up the eighth best time on the 20-yard shuttle drill (4.63 seconds). In pre-draft rankings from NFL.com and CBSSports.com, Long had been projected as being a probable second to third round pick.

Long’s former coach, Saddleback head coach Mark McElroy said that he was glad to see Long drafted Thursday night.

“I’m very happy for him and his family. He deserves it,” McElroy said. “I think he is extremely talented and will be a very good football player in the NFL for a long time.”

After learning that he had been selected by the Bears, Long tweeted out, “BEAR DOWN!” and about two hours afterwards tweeted, “very excited to join the @ChicagoBears I need Bears fans to tell me what it means to wear the Navy & Orange #AboutOurColors @Tide #Spon.” 

Long’s former teammate, offensive tackle Menelik Watson, had been projected by NFL.com to be taken before him either late in the first round or early in the second round. Watson remained undrafted at the end of the first round. At the conclusion of the first round, ESPN senior NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. mentioned Watson as a player he expected to be drafted early in the second round.

McElroy was confident in Watson’s skills, saying that he believed Watson too would be a good player for years to come.

“[Long and Watson] are both quality people,” McElroy said. “And I am excited that they have both been given this opportunity.”

The second round of the 2013 NFL Draft will begin on Friday, April 26 at 5:30 p.m. PST.

Video Highlights and Analysis on Long from BleacherReport.com

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