The 2001 NFL Draft has finally come and gone. It was a meticulous event; methodical, strategic and, uh, boring. Only the most hardcore NFL fans can watch the whole thing, and even they suffer from numbness in the brain before the end of the first round. I would like to sympathize for these poor people. I really would. But I’m saving all my sympathy for another.

Torrance Marshall.

Don’t just sit there and act like you don’t know who this guy is. Playing middle linebacker, he was the defensive leader of the undefeated NCAA national champion Oklahoma Sooners. You may think a champion doesn’t need sympathy, but when he blesses the NFL Draft with his presence only to be ignored until the third round, some commiserating is in order.

So why should he have been drafted higher? For starters, Marshall has perfect size for his position at 6’3″, 245 lbs. He can run and tackle with the best of them. He shines in the spotlight, garnering MVP honors at both the Orange Bowl and the Senior Bowl. He plows through the best running teams (12 tackles, 2 sacks vs. Nebraska) and possesses incredible instinct in pass defense, as shown by his fourth-quarter interception, which he then returned for a touchdown (and the win) against Texas A&M.

Yet he isn’t picked until the third round, falling behind bums like Sedrick Hodge from North Carolina and Quinton Caver from Arkansas. Marshall is a first-round talent, regardless of the lack of respect he got from draft analysts. Look for him to be the best linebacker to come out of this draft.

Note to all running backs in the NFL (besides those on Green Bay, the team that drafted Marshall): When an inside running play is called against the Packers, cut it outside – or Torrance Marshall will be waiting for your punk ass.