Broughton to Roberts: Just be you
When Andre Roberts reports to his first Arizona Cardinals' mini-camp next weekend, he will see at least one familiar face -- that of fellow Citadel product Nehemiah Broughton.
Broughton, who starred at running back for the Bulldogs from 2001-04 after a standout career at North Charleston High School, signed with the Cardinals in March after beginning his NFL career with the Washington Redskins.
Broughton, as known as "Nemo", looked on with pride as Roberts was picked by the Cardinals in the third round of the draft Friday night. Roberts is the first Citadel player drafted since Broughton in 2005, and the highest Bulldogs pick since linebacker John Small was taken in the first round by the Falcons in 1970.
"I'm very proud to see another Citadel guy with the chance to get drafted," Broughton said. "When his name came across the screen, I was just as happy as I was when mine did."
The pair never played together at The Citadel -- Roberts began his All-America career in 2006 -- but have met before, and Broughton is happy to offer perspective gained from his five years in the league.
"Just be you," Broughton said he would tell Roberts. "You're an all-around good guy, a hard worker, and word around the league is that you are an overachiever. Just continue to do the things that got you to this point and keep that hunger."
Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, whose father attended The Citadel, recalled ex- Bulldogs standout Stump Mitchell's standout career with the Cardinals when talking about Roberts, the 88th pick in the draft.
"(Roberts) was really impressive at the Senior Bowl against good competition," Whisenhunt said. "And that's one of the things you talk about when you see he's from The Citadel, although Stump Mitchell was another good player the Cardinals drafted from The Citadel, and he had a pretty good career.
"But we felt what (Roberts) did against that level of competition and what he did at the combine really impressed us. To be able to address a punt-return need as well as a slot receiver need is something we're very excited about."
The Cardinals envision the 5-11, 195-pound Roberts returning punts and playing a fourth receiver role. Roberts averaged 15.5 yards per punt return for The Citadel last season.
"He has that shiftiness, that ability to extend a player and make people miss," Whisenhunt said. "That kind of quickness and decision-making will help you as a slot receiver, too. And that's not to eliminate him from playing an outside receiver. But we felt like with trading Anquan (Boldin), we needed a guy who can go inside and complement a guy like Early Doucet in our four-receiver set."
General manager Rod Graves said he was impressed by Roberts' performances against bigger schools such as Clemson and North Carolina.
"He's been a productive player against a high level of competition," Graves said. "When they played big schools, SEC schools and so forth, he rose to the occasion, so we felt like he could certainly handle coming in and competing at a high level."
Roberts will receive his degree in business administration, with a concentration in accounting, from The Citadel on May 8. Good thing, too. In 2008, a third-round pick earned an average guaranteed salary of about $670,000 per year.