Many Draft “experts” said Jordon Dizon was too small, and too slow not to draw great interest from the NFL. Saturday he was the fourth linebacker taken in the Draft when the Lions grabbed him in the second round.
Just more than an hour later, New England went for Terrence Wheatley with the 31st pick in the second round (62nd pick overall). The Patriots are getting a bright and gifted athlete in Wheatley. He clocked a sub-4.4 40-yard dash for NFL scouts, and his 38.5-inch vertical leap at CU Pro Timing Day in March matched the best leap by any cornerback at the NFL Combine.
At 5-9, 178 pounds, Wheatley lead CU with five interceptions in 2007, and finished his career with 14. He also is second in kickoff return yardage (1,350) all-time at Colorado.
Wheatley had a career-threatening wrist injury early in his career at CU, but multiple surgeries later, Wheatley put together two solid seasons as a junior and senior at Colorado, and was named first-team All-Big 12 in both 2006 and 2007.
He had been invited to New England in recent weeks. Wheatley told Scout.com: “They have a very business-like approach. I talked to (head coach, Bill) Mr. Belichick, he's a good guy. Just like you see on TV, he's a real serious guy. But he has a reputation as this guy who doesn't have a personality, but that's not the case. He's a good guy, he jokes around, but when it's time to get to business he's about his business. I like that a lot because that's how I am. I'll joke around a lot, but when it's time to watch and break stuff down, all jokes aside, let's go ahead and watch it. They have good facilities, they have a great opportunity there for guys to come in and contribute right away. Who wouldn't want to play for the Patriots and a chance to compete for a Super Bowl every year?”
At first glance, Detroit looks to be a good fit for Dizon. The Lions have only two starters from the 2007 season on their roster — MLB Paris Lenon, and WLB Ernie Sims. In addition, the Lions have signed two free agent linebackers this offseason, Al Fletcher and Gilbert Gardner, and also have three other linebackers on the roster.
Dizon, at a shade under 6-0 and 228 pounds, is probably best suited for weakside linebacker.
Dizon’s quick rise at Colorado is legendary among Buffalo fans. Dizon played running back and linebacker in High School in Waimea, Hawaii. CU linebackers coach Brian Cabral got to know Dizon in a CU football camp prior to Dizon’s junior year. CU offered Dizon early and he set his sights on Boulder. But he was a man without a position when he got to Boulder and August camp opened in 2004.
He began camp at safety, but was moved to linebacker after showing well in a tackle drill. Pretty soon, he was running with the first team in practice. Dizon became the first true freshman in school history to start at inside linebacker the first game of his career at Colorado. Playing mostly on instincts that season, Dizon was named Big 12 Defensive Freshman on the Year (Coaches) and Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year (AP).
He ended his career at CU fourth all-time in tackles (440), and played in 51 games. He was runner up in the 2007 Butkus Award voting.
Dizon was taken third-highest of any CU linebacker in the NFL Draft since 1960, behind Alfred Williams (18th pick overall, 1991) and Chad Brown (44th pick overall, 1993).
Colorado linebackers taken in the NFL Draft since 1960:
Year: Player, Team, Overall Pick, Round
1963: Ralph Heck, Philadelphia, 144th, 11th
1967: Bill Fairband, 75 pick, 3rd
1969: Mike Schnitker, 84th pick, 4th
1969: Dave Bartelt, 363rd pick, 14th
1971: Rick Ogle, St. Louis, 277th pick, 11th
1974: Mark Cooney, Green Bay, 402nd pick, 16th
1975: Greg Westrbooks, New Orleans, 422, 17th
1976: Gary Campbell, Pittsburgh, 291, 10th
1978: Brian Cabral, Atlanta, 95, 4th
1979: Stuart Walker, Atlanta, 323, 12th
1980: Bill Roe, Dallas, 78, 3rd
1981: Steve Doolittle, Buffalo, 188, 7th
1986: Dan McMillen, Philadelphia, 128, 5th
1991: Alfred Williams, Cincinnati, 18, 1st
1991: Kanavis McGhee, NY Giants, 55, 2nd
1993: Chad Brown, Pittsburgh, 44, 2nd
1993: Greg Biekert, LA Raiders, 181, 7th
1994: Sam Rogers, Buffalo, 64, 2nd
1994: Ron Woolfork, Miami, 112, 4th
1995: Ted Johnson, New England, 57, 2nd
1997: Matt Russell, Detroit, 130, 4th
1998: Ron Merkerson, New England, 145, 5th
1999: Hannibal Navies, Carolina, 100, 4th
2004: Sean Tufts, Carolina, 196, 6th
2007: Abraham Wright, Miami, 238, 7th
2008: Jordon Dizon, Detroit, 45, 2