Five Arizona State seniors from last year's 9-3 Sun Bowl championship squad were selected in the 1998 NFL Draft, held over the past two days. ASU's Jeremy Staat was the only Sun Devil taken during the first day of the draft as the Pittsburgh Steelers traded up to take the defensive tackle with the 41st overall pick of the draft in the second round. Day two saw four more Sun Devils go as Jason Simmons (Steelers), Damien Richardson (Panthers), Pat Tillman (Cardinals) and Vince Amey (Raiders) went in rounds five through seven.
Arizona State has had 13 players taken in the last two NFL Drafts as eight ASU players were taken in 1997.
Staat's stock rapidly rose after his senior season when he won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-10s top defensive lineman. Staat registered 9.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss in 1997 and was the only junior-college transfer named to the Football Writers Association of America All-American team.
Simmons started 32 games in his four-year ASU career and was a fifth-round selection, 137th overall, for the Steelers. In his ASU career, Simmons was a two-time All-Pac-10 honoree, receiving 2nd-team honors last year, and registered 166 total tackles while picking off six passes as a cornerback.
Richardson started 33 consecutive games for ASU since his sophomore season. The strong safety was a second-team All-Pac-10 selection in 1997 and a three-time Pac-10 All-Academic pick. Richardson, a sixth-round pick for Carolina and the 165th pick overall, totaled 209 tackles in his ASU career from the strong safety position.
Tillman was the 1997 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and led the team in tackles with 93. A seventh-round selection and 226th overall by the hometown Cardinals, Tillman is expected to switch from inside linebacker to safety for Arizona. Tillman totaled 241 tackles in his four-year ASU career and was a two-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection.
Amey started 24 games during his Sun Devil career, totalling 64 tackles and 14 tackles for loss on the defensive line. Amey had his best year last season as he started every game and registered 2.5 sacks, 26 tackles and nine tackles for loss. Amey was a seventh-round selection for Oakland and the 230th pick overall.
Since the draft eneded, ASU punter Marcus Williams signed a free agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals and offensive lineman Kyle Murphy inked a free agent deal with the Oakland Raiders.