Monday, April 29, 2013

Hokies in the NFL Draft

"The Detroit Lions picked Hokies wide receiver Corey Fuller and the Denver Broncos selected offensive tackle Vinston Painter in a span of three picks early in the sixth round. It was the longest wait for the first Hokie to come off the board since 1993, the last time Virginia Tech didn't have anyone selected."
Hampton Roads:
Corey Fuller (No. 171 overall)
"It feels great. It's hard to breathe right now," Fuller said, an hour after he'd been selected. "I don't know if I'm still dreaming or what."

Fuller hadn't spoken with the Lions in the lead-up to the draft, but Jim Schwartz coached Corey's older brother, Vincent, as a defensive coordinator with Tennessee and later as head coach of Detroit. The speedy 22-year-old comes from a football family, with Vincent, who played six seasons in the NFL and two younger brothers, Kyle and Kendall, who will likely start at each cornerback slot for Virginia Tech next season.

It continues a meteoric rise for the 6-foot-2, 204-pound Fuller, who originally ran track at Kansas, transferred to Virginia Tech in 2010 to play football and didn't emerge as a solid threat until his senior season, when he caught 43 passes for 815 yards and five touchdowns.

"He's got great size, great speed. He's got a lot of upside," Detroit GM Martin Mayhew told the Lions' website. "I really want to see what this kid can do on special teams, but he made some big plays in the passing game. We're talking about getting bigger and faster, he's another guy in that same vein."

The Lions were in the market for a receiver who could stretch the field to open things up for Calvin Johnson. Fuller, who has a track background and ran a 4.43-second time in the 40-yard dash at the combine, certainly could fill that role. While the Lions have plenty of slot-type receivers, including Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles and Mike Thomas, they were looking for more outside receivers, especially given the February release of Titus Young.

Vinston Painter (No. 173 overall)
"It's just a big relief, man, I can tell you that much," Painter said.

Painter was selected two picks later at No. 173 overall, rising up draft boards after starting one year in college and turning in an impressive combine performance, where he put his size (6-4, 306), physical skills and football smarts on display.

Once one of the top recruits in the state coming out of Maury High, Painter bounced around several positions before settling in as a tackle. He started all 13 games at right tackle last year, earning honorable mention All-ACC honors by the coaches.

"He's a hard-working, physical tackle," Denver Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway tweeted. "We like his potential."

Denver is pretty set at its offensive tackle positions, with Pro Bowler Ryan Clady on the left side, Orlando Franklin on the right and Chris Clark capable of backing up on both sides. The Broncos apparently could take a look at the 6-foot-6, 309-pound Painter at guard as well.

For what it's worth, Painter says he's most comfortable at right tackle, where he started last year. Not playing right away might not be the worst thing for Painter, who only started one year in college and still is -- here's that word again -- a developmental guy.

Elway expounded on that tweet in a press conference later: "Here’s a guy where we were looking for a swing tackle and he kind of fell to us. He’s a guy that has played defensive line. He’s very young when it comes down to offensive line because he was a defensive lineman, I believe, for the first two years in college. He is really just coming into his own on the offensive side. He’s a big guy 6’6”, 309. I think he’s 16-percent body fat and is a guy we want leading us off the bus because he’s a good-looking guy. I think when you look at the youth and the upside that he has because of the fact that he’s only been on the offensive side for a couple of years so we were happy with that."

Marcus Davis
"Teams passed on me for whatever reason," Davis said. "That’s up to them. But going into camp, I’m going to use that as motivation. Everybody passed on me. The Giants gave me an opportunity to come in and try to prove myself. So I’m just going to use that and come into camp a different person."

Davis will still get his shot in the NFL, announcing Sunday that he had agreed to a free agent deal with the New York Giants. They called with about 30 minutes left in the draft. Davis and his agent talked it over, preparing for a worst-case scenario -- not getting drafted -- and agreed that New York was a great situation for him. He decided on the Giants about five minutes after the draft ended.

He'll have familiar faces there. The Giants drafted two Hokies early in last year's draft who figure to have prominent roles this year -- running back David Wilson and cornerback Jayron Hosley. They also signed outside linebacker Alonzo Tweedy to an undrafted free agent deal yesterday.

Davis, who led Virginia Tech with 51 catches for 953 receiving yards and five touchdowns last year, still doesn't know all the reasons that led to him not being selected, although there were numerous theories -- from the receivers' lackluster blocking last year to his agent's relationship with NFL teams to concerns about a shoulder injury from five years ago.

Several other Hokies didn't get selected Saturday, but have latched on with teams as undrafted free agents. Those players, so far, include linebacker Bruce Taylor (Bengals), offensive tackle Nick Becton (Chargers), and defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins (Steelers).

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