Chris Petersen kept waiting to see Kyle Wilson's name called during the early portion of last night's opening round of the 75th annual NFL Draft.
Around 8:30 p.m. Mountain Time, it finally happened.
Even though it came a bit later than he expected, seeing his star cornerback fall to the bottom of the first round did little to temper his excitement.
"We couldn’t be happier," the Boise State coach told me today. "Everybody is just so fired up for Kyle and his family. I think it’s such an unbelievable perfect place for him. Personally, I was just surprised that he went that late. We just had so many good conversations with so many coaches around the league and everybody was loving him.
"But there were certain needs, there’s certain niches that guys are trying to fill. I think it’s very fortunate for the Jets that he was there because he’s one heck of a player."
Still, even Petersen thought Wilson could go somewhere in the Top 10.
"There was a shot of that, but you know how that goes," he said. "I mean all the stars and moons have got to line up right just for those things to happen. I thought there was no way he was going past 20."
But he did, and the Jets were the lucky ones, taking off the draft board just in time at No. 29. Wilson was on the phone with the Vikings about five minutes before the Jets made their pick. Minnesota ended up trading out of the pick, swinging a deal with the Lions, who selected Jahvid Best.
So the Vikings apparently had their eyes set on Wilson if the Jets didn't grab him first.
"We’re just happy for him because it seems like it’s just such a correct fit," Petersen said. "For him to come all the way out here and spend four and a half years with us and then to go home to what certainly, I’m sure, is probably his dream team couldn’t work better for him."
There's a funny thing about that, though: Petersen never spoke with the Jets about Wilson. Think he was a bit surprised when he heard Commissioner Roger Goodell say Wilson's name when it came time for the Jets to pick?
"It’s interesting how this has worked out," Petersen said with a laugh. "I didn’t have any conversations with the Jets. Some of the scouts that came through here, we talked to all those guys. But I didn’t talk to Coach Ryan or anything like that, which I always thinks is interesting because that’s how it usually works out. You know, you talk to all these coaches and then your guys end up in places where you really weren’t predicted to happen."
Wilson should fit in nicely with the Jets because he's just as confident as Rex Ryan. Petersen said Wilson never backs down from a challenge, and he'll certainly need to keep that mentality as a cornerback in this league.
"When you think about a true competitor, that’s what you’ll think about Kyle," he said. "He won’t back down from anybody. If things don’t go his way, he’ll compete harder. And those things are easy to talk about and coach guys up on those things, but that usually doesn’t happen. I mean, the guy’s either got that in his heart and that’s how he is or not. And he’s just a tremendous, tremendous competitor.
Yeah, but is he coachable?
"He is fabulous," Petersen said. "One of the reasons we won so many games around here was because of Kyle and his attitude. When you are able to coach up your star player and he listens to everything you say and does what you need him to do, everybody else gets in line. So not only is he a great player, he’s even a better person. And those are the things that make it special when something like this happens."
Petersen lauded Wilson's versatility, noting that they could've played the former high school wide receiver on offense if they wanted to. His 40-yard dash is impressive, but there's something else that really stands out in Petersen's eyes.
"Yeah, he’s one of those guys that gets out in the open and he did that in the punt returning game," Petersen said. "Once he gets a crease, he can take it the distance. The thing that I think is even better is his quickness. I think of his quickness better than his overall speed. He’s still going to run in the low 4.4’s, that’s the type of speed he has. But he’s got those quick feet.
"That’s what you are using every play, down-in and down-out. Not every play you are opening out to run deep with a receiver or get loose on a punt return. But every play, you have to use that quickness and that’s where he’s just really good."
Speaking of good, not that they've needed any serious validation anyway, but Wilson getting drafted in the first round should prove that Boise State can churn out a pro. Wilson is the second player ever from the school to get drafted in the first round, joining Denver tackle Ryan Clady (2008).
Mind you, this is a program that's played in two BCS Bowl games over the last few years, so they can compete with the big boys. But seeing a person actually drafted in the first round could help in Boise State's recruiting process.
"It’s great because we’ve been saying all along, 'Hey, we have a lot of really good players,' " Petersen said. "That’s the reason we’re winning so many games, because we’ve got players like Kyle Wilson and Ryan Clady, and other guys that are going to make a name for themselves down the road as well. So it’s exciting."