Throughout his career at the University of Wisconsin, cornerback Scott Starks stood tall on the football field, even if he was a little slight of stature. But while his 5-foot-8, 172-pound frame did not impede him from enjoying a standout career as a four-year starter with the Badgers, Starks’ lack of ideal size was frowned upon as he prepped for the NFL Draft.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, however, liked Starks’ speed, ability and competitive spirit enough to choose him in the third round, taking him with the 87th overall selection (No. 23 in the third round).
“He showed durability. He’s been very competitive,” said James Harris, the Jaguars’ vice president for player personnel, in a press conference late Saturday night, the transcript of which was made available on Jacksonville’s official Web site. “He has proven that he has been able to play above his size.”
Starks, who was not available for comment Saturday, was one of two former UW players selected on Saturday’s first day of the annual draft, which encompasses rounds 1-3. Defensive end Erasmus James was selected No. 18 overall in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings. Rounds 4-7 take place Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m.
Despite his diminutive stature, Starks, a St. Louis native, was a star at Wisconsin. He led the Badgers with 19 passes defended as a junior in 2003 and he had 10 more as a senior last fall, third best at UW. He was also an exceptional player on special teams, particularly as a sprinter on the punt coverage team. He also returned six kickoffs for 119 yards, an average of 19.8 yards per return, as a senior.
Starks is expected to immediately compete for playing time in Jacksonville, potentially in the starting lineup but more likely in the nickel defense and on special teams.
“This is one of those deals where we had some players at other positions to choose from,” Harris said. “We had him graded equally. We decided to go with him because he can play corner and he can play nickel. He gives us two options to get him on the field. We like his ability to play special teams.”
Starks started 48 of 51 games the past four seasons, finishing his UW career with 52 passes defended, the third highest total in school history. That includes seven career interceptions. He also had 230 tackles, six fumbles caused and four fumble recoveries in his career. And after boasting just ½ of a tackle for loss through his first three seasons, Starks had four tackles for loss, including one sack, as a senior.
“He is tough,” Harris said. “That’s one of the things we liked about him, that he will come up and support [against] the run.”