Monday, May 12, 2014

Hokies Taken in the 2014 NFL Draft

Kyle Fuller, CB (6'0", 190)
Chicago Bears, 14th Pick, First Round
Fuller was the second cornerback selected in the draft, going after the Browns took Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert with the No. 8 pick, although Bears general manager Phil Emery said Fuller was the top corner on their board. The Baltimore, Md. native had a second-round projection before last year but alleviated teams’ injury concerns in the winter and ran a fast enough time (4.49 seconds) in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February to get himself into the first round.

Fuller’s the third member of family to get drafted, joining Vinnie, a safety who taken by the Titans in 2005, and Corey, a sixth-round pick last year by the Lions. If Corey comes off Detroit's practice squad, there's a chance he and Kyle could be lined up against each other twice a year in the NFC North.

For his career, Fuller recorded 173 tackles (129 solo), including 23.5 for a loss, and he finished with six interceptions.

Fuller became the ninth Virginia Tech player to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft and the third defensive player, joining cornerback DeAngelo Hall (2004) and defensive end Bruce Smith (1985). He’s the highest a Hokie has gone in the draft in a decade, when Hall was the eighth overall pick by the Falcons. It’s the 15th time in the last 16 years Virginia Tech has had a defensive back selected in the draft.

Logan Thomas, QB (6’6”, 254)
Arizona Cardinals, 120th Pick, Fourth Round

He’ll be coached by Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, who played quarterback for the Hokies from 1972-74 and traveled to Blacksburg to personally work out Thomas last month. Thomas’ pick, the sixth quarterback off the board, surprised many. He was chosen ahead of several highly accomplished SEC passers like Alabama’s AJ McCarron, Georgia’s Aaron Murray and LSU's Zach Mettenberger, in addition to Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, a former ACC Player of the Year.

He had an uneven senior year statistically, throwing for 2,907 yards and 16 touchdowns but also 13 interceptions. Still, Thomas thought he made giant strides mechanically in his one year under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, who has a track record of putting quarterback in the NFL.

Thomas still set school records at Virginia Tech in total offense (10,362 yards), passing yards (9,003), passing touchdowns (53), completions (693) and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (24). He also threw 39 career interceptions.

Thomas became the sixth quarterback in Tech history to be drafted and the first since 2011 when Tyrod Taylor went in the sixth round to the Baltimore Ravens. It’s the highest a Virginia Tech quarterback has been selected in the draft since Michael Vick went No. 1 to the Atlanta Falcons in 2001.

Antone Exum, CB (6'1", 220)
Minnesota Vikings, 182nd Pick, Sixth Round
Once considered at least a third-round pick, Exum's draft stock took a hit in the last year after he tore his ACL playing pickup basketball in January of 2013. He had an injury-plagued senior season, coming back from the knee injury midway through the year but injuring his ankle only a few games later. He finished the season having played in only three games. But before the injury he was an All-ACC performer who had 48 tackles and a team-high five interceptions as a junior, his first year as a cornerback.

Exum and Fuller make 20 Hokies defensive backs who have been selected in the draft since 1999.

James Gayle, DE (6'4", 259)
Tennessee Titans, Undrafted Free Agent
James Gayle was predicted to go in the middle rounds of this weeks NFL Draft, and he will likely need to switch positions to make the biggest impact. His plight entering the draft is the same as Jason Worilds and Darryl Tapp, who also played weakside Defensive End at VT, but eventually made the switch to LB in 3-4 systems when they entered the NFL.

Tariq Edwards, LB (6'2", 235)
Miami Dolphins, Undrafted Free Agent
At 6-2, 235, Tariq falls within the traditional height range for an NFL ILB, but is about 10-15 pounds light. With a clocked Pro Day 40 time of 4.76, he is a couple steps slower than many teams would prefer their ILB’s to be, as players who run in the mid/high 4.7’s are generally 4-technique defensive ends.

Other free agent deals, according to the Virginia Tech football Twitter account, are as follows:
  • DT Derrick Hopkins, Baltimore Ravens
  • WR D.J. Coles, Oakland Raiders
  • OL Andrew Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • LB Jack Tyler, Minnesota Vikings

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