Oregon S Patrick Chung Could be One of the First Players Selected at the Safety Position
INDIANAPOLIS – As rookie, Patrick Chung will be one of the NFL's youngest players next season.
To Chung, that's hardly unusual. And hardly a big deal.
Chung, a senior strong safety from the University of Oregon, entered college as a 16-year-old freshman, but there's more to his story than growing up in Jamaica, or that he didn't have his driver's license until his senior year. Of college.
Chung, according to analysts, hits really hard.
And he's very, very good.
And as he sees it, being a boy in a man's world entering college was key to the process.
"It was cool," said Chung, widely projected to be one of the first safeties selected in the 2009 NFL Draft, which will be held April 25-26 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
"It was a bunch of grown guys out there. They were always picking on me. 'Little man, you're the little man,' but you've got to adjust real fast. You can't let anything intimidate you.
"It was more a motivation-factor."
Chung, who said he didn't get a driver's license until his senior year of college because he lived near enough a bus stop there was no need, finished his career at Oregon with 370 tackles and nine interceptions. His tackles totals dropped to 90 as a senior from 113 as a junior, but Ducks Head Coach Mike Bellotti said that stemmed from a scheme change.
"He's absolutely the same kind of impact player for us, and in some ways more imant," Belotti told the Salem (Ore.) Statesman Journal in late December. "We did some things differently this year in what we asked him to do.
"He's been more a centerfielder, more of a general."
Chung (5-feet-11, 210 pounds), who said he prides himself on a killer instinct in games or in practice, counts Colts safety Bob Sanders among players he admires, in part because of Sanders' relatively diminutive size for a safety (5-feet-8, 206 pounds). He also mentioned Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.
"Those guys like to come up fast and bang it out," Chung told the Statesman Journal. "The smaller safeties are out there balling. That's the kind of player I look up to."
Sanders, since arriving at the Colts, has played predominantly Cover 2, and Chung said that's a scheme in which he is comfortable.
"We did cover two, cover three," he said. "We did everything and we had the rover position. I mean I played traditional safety positions and regular defensive coverages, and at rover, I can be anywhere. I can cover the tight end, covering the slot, blitzing, being in the box, being deep. Rover is pretty much an everything position."
He was asked where he was most comfortable.
"It doesn't matter to me," he said. "It doesn't matter. I'll play deep. I'll play in the box. It doesn't matter to me."
Chung, who said he can play either strong or free safety – "I'm not limited at all," he said – started the final 51 games of his collegiate career.
"I take a lot of pride," he said. "That's hard work. That's hard work and dedication. Fifty-one straight games is a lot of painful games, but you've got to fight through it. Yeah, I'll take a badge. It's hard work, though.
"If you work hard, everything will come true for you."
Chung said that's an attitude he long has held. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and lived there for 10 years – "I know it's hot," he said when asked about his home country – before moving to California. He began school in Jamaica at age 4, therefore was 16 when he arrived in Eugene as a freshman.
"How did I mature?" he said. "Being with the older guys, older guys showing me the ropes, having the mentality that I'm trying to be the best player out there. That's just how I am. I'm not cocky, but I'm trying to be the best one out there. When you work hard, like I said, everything happens for you.
"If you have your mind set on something and you keep going and going until you get that goal, everything will be fine."
BREAKING DOWN THE 2009 NFL DRAFT'S TOP SAFETIES
As is often the case at the safety position, no true safety is projected to be selected in the first round, with several projected to be selected late on the first day of the draft. Louis Delmas of Western Michigan is projected by some analysts as the top safety available, with Patrick Chung of Oregon also a second-round likelihood. William Moore of Missouri also could be selected in the second round in the opinion of many analysts.
ON THE COLTS' ROSTER
Bob Sanders, sixth season, Iowa; Antoine Bethea, fourth season, Howard; Melvin Bullitt, third season, Texas A&M; Matt Giordano, fifth season, California; Jamie Silva, second season, Boston College; Brannon Condren, third season, Troy; Travis Key, first season, Michigan State.
THE LAST FIVE
The last five safeties drafted by the Colts . . .
2007: Brannon Condren, fourth round, Troy.
2006: Antoine Bethea, sixth round, Howard.
2005: Matt Giordano, fourth round, California.
2004: Bob Sanders, second round, Iowa.
2003: Cato June, sixth round, Michigan.
2003: Mike Doss, second round, Ohio State.
THIS YEAR'S DRAFT
An alphabetical list of 20 safeties projected to be selected in the 2009 NFL Draft . . .
David Bruton, Notre Dame, 6-2, 220
Patrick Chung, Oregon, 5-11, 210
Chris Clemons, Clemson, 6-0, 210
Emanuel Cook, South Carolina, 5-10, 195
Louis Delmas, Western Michigan 5-11, 200
Kevin Ellison, Southern Cal, 6-1, 225
Keith Fitzhugh, Mississippi State, 5-10, 210
Courtney Greene, Rutgers, 6-0, 210
Michael Hamlin, Clemson, 6-2, 215
Lendy Holmes, Oklahoma, 6-0, 205
Rashad Johnson, Alabama, 5-11, 205
Darcel McBath, Texas Tech, 6-0, 200
Marcus McClinton, Kansas, 6-0, 210
William Moore, Missouri, 6-0, 220
Troy Nolan, Arizona St., 6-0, 205
Derek Pegues, Mississippi St., 5-10, 200
C.J. Spillman, Marshall, 6-0, 195
Curtis Taylor, L.S.U., 6-2, 210
Chip Vaughn, Wake Forest, 6-1, 220
Otis Wiley, Michigan St., 6-1, 215