By Chadd Cripe
Former Boise State tailback Ian Johnson and former Boise State wide receiver Vinny Perretta reached free-agent agreements with the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday evening.
Johnson's wife, Chrissy, and agent, Bruce Tollner, confirmed his contract. Perretta and his agent, Buddy Baker, confirmed his.
Tollner said Johnson chose among 12-15 suitors after the draft concluded. The deciding factor: the best situation for earning a roster spot. The Vikings have two veteran tailbacks — Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor — and a third tailback with no game experience (Albert Young).
The recruiting war included head coaches, position coaches and general managers, Tollner said. That took some of the sting out of Johnson, the Broncos' top NFL prospect this year, not getting drafted.
"I think (Johnson) was excited to be able to choose among 12-15 teams," Tollner said. "At the end of it, he sounded very fired up, even though he went as a free agent."
Johnson will be reunited with Peterson, the opposing star running back in the Fiesta Bowl, and Perretta, a good friend whom he played with for five years at Boise State.
"That's sweet," Perretta said. "I love playing ball with Ian."
Perretta chose the Vikings over the New York Jets and Jacksonville, he said. The Vikings were the one team to fly him out for a pre-draft visit. He gives the Vikings at least nine receivers, but it's not a star-studded group.
"The receivers coach told me he would see me again," Perretta said. "The whole situation was right. It was the best opportunity to make a football team."
Wide receiver Jeremy Childs, who set a school single-season record with 82 catches in 2007, has reached a free-agent deal with the San Diego Chargers, he and his agent said.
Wide receiver Julian Hawkins has agreed to a deal with the Dallas Cowboys, he and his agent said.
"This is a total dream," Hawkins said. "It's a dream finally coming true — not just for me, but for my whole family."
And tight end Chris O'Neill is headed to Jacksonville this week for a free-agent workout. He had hoped to land a contract, but is determined to make this opportunity count.
"Boise State, we've always got to prove ourselves," O'Neill said. "Someone always thinks someone is better than us. They always pick us not to win the WAC, to finish second. We always go show them it's different — that we can play with the big boys, that we can win the WAC all the time. Now we've got to go do it in the pros."
Also, I talked to Idaho draft pick Eddie Williams a few minutes ago. Williams, who tore his right ACL against Boise State last season, says he will be ready for training camp.
"It put a big speed bump in my plans," he said of the injury, "but a lot of hard work went into it, I had a good trainer and a good doctor and I was able to come out of it."
I'll have more in tomorrow's newspaper.
Boise State was shut out of the NFL Draft on Sunday for the first time in four years.
Tailback Ian Johnson and wide receiver Jeremy Childs, both of whom were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, now will angle for the best free-agent situation possible and try to make a roster the hard way. Former Broncos who have made good careers as undrafted free agents include safety Quintin Mikell and defensive back/returner Chris Carr.
Check back often for updates.
The Washington Redskins selected former Idaho tight end Eddie Williams with the 12th pick of the seventh round of the NFL Draft on Sunday — the 221st pick overall.
Williams was an All-WAC first-teamer. He likely would have been drafted higher, but he suffered a severe knee injury last season against Boise State.
Former Boise State tailback Ian Johnson isn’t being followed by an ESPN camera during today’s NFL Draft coverage after all.
Johnson decided not to do the live remote, agent Bruce Tollner said via text message. ESPN had announced its plans earlier in the week — making Johnson one of two players the network planned to follow for second-day coverage.
It appears Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer was the replacement for Johnson. He has been shown several times waiting for a call from an NFL team.
Johnson’s decision isn’t a huge surprise because he has been avoiding media attention all week.
San Jose State defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert was the fourth pick of the third round Sunday in the NFL Draft. Gilbert, a tackle at San Jose State, likely will play end for the Chicago Bears.
Gilbert was the WAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year and the national leader in tackles for loss. He collected four of his 22 tackles for loss against Boise State.
It was a long wait for Gilbert, who some thought could have gone late in the first round.
Later in the third round, the Atlanta Falcons took San Jose State cornerback Christopher Owens with the 90th pick overall.
Hawaii defensive back Ryan Mouton also was taken in the third round.
Hawaii defensive end David Veikune was the only WAC player drafted on the first day.
I’ll be following the Boise State, WAC and Idaho State players who are draft or free-agent prospects throughout the day.
Here’s the list of WAC players drafted this year:
No. 52 (second round): DE David Veikune, Hawaii, Browns
No. 68 (third): DL Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State, Bears
No. 90 (third): CB Christopher Owens, San Jose State, Falcons
No. 94 (third): DB Ryan Mouton, Hawaii, Titans
No. 174 (sixth): QB Tom Brandstater, Fresno State, Broncos
No. 184 (sixth): TE Bear Pascoe, Fresno State, 49ers
No. 191 (sixth): CB Coye Francies, San Jose State, Browns
No. 198 (sixth): LS Jake Ingram, Hawaii, Patriots
No. 221 (seventh): TE Eddie Williams, Idaho, Redskins
No. 243 (seventh): WR Marko Mitchell, Nevada, Redskins
Now that two WAC defensive backs have been drafted in the third round, it’s more clear what Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson gave up to return for his senior year — and how high he could go next year. Wilson likely would have gone ahead of San Jose State’s Christopher Owens and Hawaii’s Ryan Mouton because of superior speed and his punt-return ability. With coaches saying he got better this spring, Wilson should have a shot at a first-day selection next year.
Also looking ahead, the first fullback taken went late in the fourth round. Boise State senior fullback Richie Brockel has been labeled the No. 1 draft prospect at that position in this year’s senior class by draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.
I had a line in my Ian Johnson story today saying that the last 12 Broncos drafted have played in NFL regular-season games. Here’s the breakdown (all stats according to nfl.com):
TE Dave Stachelski (fifth round, 2000): 9 games from 2000 to 2001 with New Orleans.
S Shaunard Harts (seventh, 2001): 51 games, 17 starts from 2001 to 2004 with Kansas City.
OL Matt Hill (fifth, 2002): 27 games, 2 starts from 2002 to 2005 with Seattle and Carolina.
TE Jeb Putzier (sixth, 2002): 69 games, 17 starts since 2002 with Denver, Houston and Seattle.
RB Brock Forsey (fifth, 2003): 17 games, 2 starts from 2003 to 2004 with Chicago and Miami.
OL Daryn Colledge (second, 2006): 48 games, 44 starts since 2006 with Green Bay.
S Gerald Alexander (second, 2007): 21 games, 17 starts since 2007 with Detroit.
WR Legedu Naanee (fifth, 2007): 29 games since 2007 with San Diego.
FB Korey Hall (sixth, 2007): 25 games, 15 starts since 2007 with Green Bay.
TE Derek Schouman (seventh, 2007): 19 games, 13 starts since 2007 with Buffalo.
OL Ryan Clady (first, 2008): 16 games, 16 starts in 2008 with Denver.
CB Orlando Scandrick (fifth, 2008): 16 games, 2 starts in 2008 with Dallas.
Defensive tackle B.J. Raji was the fourth first-round draft pick — all starters — off the 2005 Boston College team that beat Boise State 27-21 in the MPC Computers Bowl. That was the Broncos’ last home loss.
The Eagles’ list includes defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka (No. 32, 2006), quarterback Matt Ryan (No. 3, 2008) and offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (No. 17, 2008). Raji was the No. 9 pick.