The media has made a point to inform everyone that Oregon’s Kyle Long is the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long and brother of the St. Louis Rams’ Chris Long. Howie is the only one of the three that didn't come off the board in the first round. He lasted all the way to the 48th pick in the 1981 draft.
There’s little doubt in my mind that Kyle's bloodlines played a role in his first-round selection.
Long is a solid prospect who features the potential to develop into a starting left tackle at the next level. However, he doesn’t have a ton of experience playing the position. The tweet below points out the fact that he only had 15 starts at Oregon.
Brad Biggs @BradBiggs
Kyle Long played in 21 games at Oregon and made 15 starts. He is a former White Sox draft pick.4/26/2013, 2:33:11 AM
This is where his bloodlines come into play. Long is the type of prospect who looks better the more opportunities an evaluator has to see him. His draft stock is tied to his upside rather than his production.
It’s important to point out that he also received a coveted invite to the Senior Bowl. The representatives at the event were no doubt turned on to Long because of his family ties.
This isn’t to say that all the hype surrounding his draft stock is based on his bloodlines. He is an exceptional athlete who showed a ton of potential. With the right coaching and work ethic, Long could develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
It’s just hard to overlook the attention he has received because of his family. This doesn’t diminish his accomplishments, since nobody would’ve even considered him in the first round if he didn’t display the talent needed to play at the next level.
Other recent picks like Cameron Heyward also received a slight benefit from family ties. Heyward is the son of former running back/fullback Craig "Ironhead" Heyward. However, Long saw a bigger benefit than someone like Heyward.
Probably the most famous NFL family connection belongs to the Mannings. Peyton, Eli and Archie all played quarterback in the NFL. Despite building a reputation of his own, Eli garnered a lot of media attention thanks to Peyton and Archie.