LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Latest on the NFL draft.
Malik Willis of Liberty became the third quarterback taken in the NFL draft when the Tennessee Titans took him in the third round with the 86th overall pick.
Willis is a spectacular athlete who signed with Auburn as a blue-chip recruit out of high school. He transferred to Liberty where he thrived in coach Hugh Freeze’s offense the past two seasons. He threw 47 touchdowns passes and ran for 27 scores in the past two years.
The previous two quarterbacks taken were Kenny Pickett from Pitt by the Steelers in the first round and Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati earlier in the third round to Atlanta.
Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean, the leading tackler on the national champions’ dominant defense, was selected in the third round with the 83rd overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Butkus Award winner as the nation’s best linebacker was projected to be a first-round pick, despite being a bit undersized at 5-foot-11.
Various reports during the draft suggested Dean had injury issues that caused him to drop. The All-American became the sixth player from Georgia’s defense taken in this draft and the eighth Bulldogs’ player overall.
Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder was the second quarterback picked in the draft, taken in the third round at No. 74 overall by the Atlanta Falcons.
There were no quarterbacks taken in Round 2 of the NFL draft after just one — Kenny Pickett to the Steelers — went in Round 1.
The previous time only one quarterback was selected in the first two rounds of the draft was 2000. Ridder led the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff and went 43-6 as a starter in college.
Ridder will play behind former first-round pick and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota in Atlanta.
Breece Hall got his moment — and hug from Roger Goodell — on stage at the NFL draft.
It just took a few hours.
The former Iowa State running back was drafted by the Jets with the No. 36 overall pick — the fourth selection of the second round — after New York moved up two spots by trading with the Giants. He was the first running back drafted this year.
Hall was staying at a hotel in the Las Vegas area and watching the draft, but didn’t attend. He instead was celebrating with friends and family when he received the call from New York and his name was announced by former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Hall did a Zoom interview with reporters, but then made his way to the draft site.
Wearing a Jets cap, Hall was allowed to walk on to the stage — both arms raised as fans in attendance cheered — and was greeted by a big hug from the NFL Commissioner.
“It’s just a dream come true,” Hall told NFL Network. “Last night, just knowing the Jets, they tried to trade into the first round to get me but it didn’t go through. So it was kind of a bummer. But, I mean, I’m still blessed to be a Jet and blessed to be able to have the opportunity to come on here. So it’s been fun.”
The second pick of the second round was wide receiver Christian Watson from North Dakota State by the Green Bay Packers and by the time the round was done six more wideouts came off the board.
Thirteen receivers in the first two rounds matched a draft record.
Three straight receivers came off the board at one point, starting with Georgia’s George Pickens to the Steelers with pick No. 52. The Colts followed up with Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce and then the Chiefs grabbed Skyy Moore from Western Michigan.
The round ended with two players from Nebraska being taken — center Cam Jurgens to Philadelphia and cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt to Cincinnati — the best showing in the draft by the Cornhuskers since they had two second-rounders in 2015.
But Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean was still waiting to be selected.
The Patriots selected maybe the fastest receiver in this year’s draft when they picked Baylor’s Tyquan Thornton with the 50th overall pick.
New England traded up a few spots to get Thornton, who ran a 4.28 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, best of any receiver. Thornton also had a scholarship offer to run track at LSU.
Meanwhile, Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean, the leading tackler on the national championship defense was still on the board through 52 picks. Dean, an All-American but a bit undersized at 5-foot-11, was projected by many analysts to be a first-round pick.
After a record five defensive players from Georgia were taken in the first round, the first Bulldog taken in the second round was receiver George Pickens to the Steelers with the 52nd pick.
Michigan edge rusher David Ojabo is going from one Harbaugh to another. Baltimore selected the second-team All-American in the second round with the 45th overall pick. Ojabo was pegged as a possible first-rounder before he tore the Achilles tendon in his left leg during a pro day workout.
Ojabo, who was born in Nigeria and raised in Scotland, had a breakout season as a junior with 11 sacks playing for Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and then-defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who had previously been an assistant for John Harbaugh with the Ravens.
Macdonald returned to Baltimore this offseason to become defensive coordinator for John and now will be coaching Ojabo again.
The Big 12 finally had a player taken in the NFL draft, and then had another on the very next pick.
Iowa State running back Breece Hall, a two-time All-American and the conference's offensive player of the year in 2021, was taken with the fourth pick of the second round, 36th overall, by the Jets. New York traded up with the Giants to get Hall.
On the very next pick, the Big 12′s defensive player of the year was selected. The Texans landed defensive back Jalen Pitre from Baylor.
The Big 12 was the only Power Five conference not to have a player selected during the first round. In fact, three players from FCS, Division I’s second-tier, were selected before a player from the Big 12.
Tennessee has added to its secondary with cornerback Roger McCreary with the third pick of the second round of the draft.
With a pick acquired from the New York Jets during the first round, the Titans get a fast and aggressive cover guy who excelled against the archrival Crimson Tide.
The Jets, so busy on Thursday when they made three picks, dealt with their co-tenant of MetLife Stadium, the Giants, to move to No. 36 and take Iowa State’s Breece Hall. Not only is Hall the first running back chosen, but the first from the Big 12, which was blanked in the opening round.
Aaron Rodgers at last is getting a highly drafted rookie receiver.
Rodgers famously has sought more input into Green Bay’s drafts, and the Packers didn’t select a wideout in the first round with their two picks because the top prospects were gone. But they used the second slot in the second round to grab North Dakota State’s Christian Watson.
Yes, Watson comes from a FCS school, but the Bison are as close to FBS as you can get, perennial championship contenders on their level, winning nine of the past 11 national titles. It’s the fourth consecutive year a North Dakota State player has been drafted.
The Packers traded their All-Pro receiver, Davante Adams, to Las Vegas this offseason.
Houston defensive tackle Logan Hall is the first selection of the second round of the NFL draft, by the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay, under new head coach Todd Bowles after Bruce Arians retired last month, owned the spot after trading with Jacksonville the previous night. Bowles’ background is on defense, so Hall seems a natural choice. He goes 6-foot-6, 275 pounds and is known for his relentlessness. He comes off elbow surgery and missed the Senior Bowl.
The Tennessee Titans’ newest wide receiver Treylon Burks is an Arkansas native who likes to go fishing and hunt with a bow.
Burks also likes to go hunting wild boar with his dogs and a knife. It’s a quality that certainly makes a receiver unafraid of any defender he might see on a football field.
“A lot of people are not going to go out there and chase a wild boar,” the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Burks said. “You know, they can hurt you. But at the same time, that’s part of my game on the field, just being fearless and I’m just selling out for the team.”
It’s a hobby that might cause a general manager to insert a clause prohibiting boar hunting in the offseason. Titans general manager Jon Robinson said he might offer up some grocery store coupons to Burks.
“He can just go to the back aisle and get bacon and sausage,” Robinson said. “It’s probably a little easier trying to get it that way as opposed to dogs and knives.”
Aidan Hutchinson seems set up for a smooth transition in the NFL, playing for his hometown Detroit Lions whose training facility is a 30-minute drive from his parents’ house.
“I may be living in the basement,” he joked Friday in Allen Park, Michigan.
Detroit drafted the former Michigan and Dearborn Divine Child defensive end with the No. 2 pick Thursday night and welcomed him, his parents and two sisters back to the Motor City less than 24 hours later.
“It feels like a dream,” his mother, Melissa Hutchinson said. “We would’ve acclimated to wherever he was, but Detroit is special because he’s a hometown boy from grade-school football, high school, college, and now he gets to stay home with the Lions.”
Aidan Hutchinson was raised in nearby Plymouth, Michigan, and played high school football about five minutes from the facility he will train and practice in as an NFL player.
“To think I’m a Lion, it’s like a wild dream,” he said. “I’m sure one of these days it’s going to hit me.”
The Lions have taken a lot of hits over the years, advancing only once in the playoffs since winning the 1957 NFL title and that lone postseason victory was three decades ago.
Hutchinson remembers the team’s 0-16 season in 2008, the low point of a long-suffering franchise.
“Not a ton of great memories,” he said.
Detroit is attempting another rebuild, hoping general manager Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell can make all the right moves for a team that has averaged just four wins over the past four years.
The Lions went into the NFL draft with an extra first-round pick, acquired as part of the Matthew Stafford trade with the Los Angeles Rams, and used the asset to gamble in Las Vegas on a player they coveted.
Detroit moved way up in the opening round to draft Jameson Williams at No. 12, giving up the last pick in the first round, No. 32 overall and a third-round pick for the Alabama wide receiver and a slot in the middle of the second round.
“If we have the conviction and we have the buy-in, we know that we’ll be aggressive and go get that player,” Holmes said. “There’s not a lot of them, but fortunately Jameson was one.”
New Seattle Seahawks left tackle Charles Cross says he’s betting on himself by choosing to not have an agent to begin his NFL career.
Cross was selected with the No. 9 pick in the first round by the Seahawks and was introduced at the team’s facility on Friday. Cross said he’s created a team around him to help with business decisions — and specifically highlighted his business manager Saint Omni who was with him on Friday — but that team doesn’t include an agent.
“I just had to bet on myself,” Cross said. “Bet on myself and save some money in the long run.”
Cross said he spoke with a couple of former Mississippi State teammates who have chosen to represent themselves in the NFL and that helped solidify his decision.
“Just getting their input and insight on it really helped me make my decision. I feel like I have a great team around me,” Cross said.
Going into Round 2, the Big 12 is still waiting for its first player to be drafted.
The conference was the only one in the Power Five with no first-round picks. It was the second straight year the Big 12 was shut out.
Prior to 2021, the conference had at least one first-rounder every year since it formed in 1996 as a merger of the Big Eight and Southwest Conferences.
Among the Big 12 players in line to be selected in the second round are running back Breece Hall of Iowa State, safety Jalen Pitre of Baylor and defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey, edge rusher Nik Bonitto and linebacker Brian Asamoah, all of Oklahoma.
The Big 12 had 22 players drafted last year. First to go was Oklahoma State offensive lineman Teven Jenkins, picked 39th overall by Chicago.
The first round of the NFL draft began and ended with the selections of former University of Georgia defenders.
The Minnesota Vikings drafted safety Lewis Cine with the final pick of the first round which began with Jacksonville selecting edge rusher Travon Walker.
In between, former Georgia defenders Jordan Davis went to the Eagles at No. 10 and Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt were selected by the Green Bay Packers with picks 22 and 28, respectively.
The Bulldogs won the national championship on the strength of their defense.
The previous record was four defenders taken from the same school in the first round in 2004 (Miami) and 2006 (Florida State).
The Green Bay Packers have become the first team in the common draft era ever to select two players from the same school in the first round.
The Packers selected former University of Georgia teammates Quay Walker with the 22nd pick and Devonte Wyatt with the 28th selection.
Four members of the national champion Bulldogs defense have been selected in the first round, tying for the most ever.
Former Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker was the first overall pick by Jacksonville and ex-Bulldogs defensive tackle Jordan Davis was the 13th overall pick.
The other schools that had four defensive players selected in the first round are the University of Miami in 2004 and Florida State University in 2006.
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