Fifty is not such a bad number for former Howard University standout cornerback Ronald Bartell Jr. In fact, 50 is the number of new beginnings for him – half way to a hundred and half way to realizing a dream.
On Saturday, Bartell was chosen in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft, fiftieth overall by the St. Louis Rams. It was expected that Bartell could go as early as the second or third round, but not this early.
“It’s surprising to see Bartell go this early,” said ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. on Saturday’s broadcast. Kiper also made reference to Bartell coming from a “small program” and that he will need lots of developing. The Rams are willing to help out in the cornerback’s development.
Bartell was selected ahead of a number of cornerbacks who were considered better prospects and ready to contribute sooner in the NFL. He was picked ahead of Clemson’s Justin Miller, Oklahoma State’s Darrent Williams and Florida State’s Bryant McFadden. In fact, Bartell was the eighth cornerback taken in the draft. Most mock draft boards had the former Bison as the tenth or twelfth best cornerback available – a perception that can be credited to playing in the MEAC and Division II football and not his natural ability.
Division II players are not supposed to be selected as high as Bartell was. However, his 4.37 in the NFL Combine’s 40-meter dash, impressive frame and “upside” are features that made Bartell an intriguing prospect. St. Louis Rams Pro Bowl wide receiver Torry Holt was a co-commentator for ESPN at the draft and spoke of Bartell.
“I asked him about coming into the league,” said the NFL star. “He assured me he was going to be the best cornerback in the league within a few years.”
Kiper still thought that the Rams picked a Division II prospect to early. Then, as if to add insult to injury for Kiper, Green Bay selected another MEAC standout, Bethune-Cookman’s Nick Collins with the very next pick.