|Some well-known names in third round|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 27 April 2008 06:47|
The Central Florida running back and nation's leading rusher in 2007 was chosen atop the third round of the NFL draft Sunday. The Lions even traded up two spots with Miami for the privilege of beginning the second day by grabbing Smith.
Last season, Smith rushed for 2,567 yards and scored 29 touchdowns. Sanders' set the single-season record with 2,628 in 1988, when he won the Heisman Trophy. He went on to a Hall of Fame career over the next decade with the Lions.
Detroit will settle for a semblance of that from Smith, who left the Conference USA school as a junior after first saying he would return to college.
Smith was one of two All-Americans chosen in the third round. Penn State linebacker Dan Connor went to Carolina 10 spots later.
Connor left Linebacker U as its career tackles leader with 419. In the last few years, the Panthers have lost some starters at the position, notably Will Witherspoon and Dan Morgan. They hit with Jon Beason, their first-rounder last year, at middle linebacker.
``It's going to be great to be able to learn under a bunch of great linebackers and guys that have experience,'' Connor said. ``I'm more looking forward to that, taking it all in and learning from guys who have proven themselves every week on Sundays.''
Other third-rounders looking to prove themselves in the NFL will be defensive back Chevis Jackson (Atlanta), running back Jacob Hester (San Diego) and receiver Early Doucet (Arizona), all from national champion LSU. Hester could fill the role of LaDainian Tomlinson's stand-in previously held by Michael Turner, now with the Falcons, and the Cardinals need another wideout after losing Bryant Johnson to San Francisco.
Texas running back Jamaal Charles was chosen by Kansas City and West Virginia RB Steve Slaton was taken by Houston. The Giants took Michigan's big-play receiver, Mario Manningham, who could be groomed to eventually replace former Wolverine Amani Toomer.
New England chose San Diego State quarterback Kevin O'Connell, causing one pundit to remark: ``Is this the end of the Tom Brady era?''
Two of the third-rounders, DTs Marcus Harrison of Arkansas and Pat Sims of Auburn, bring some baggage to the NFL.
Harrison was suspended at Arkansas last summer on drug charges, then returned to the team. Chicago picked him.
Sims once quit the Auburn team, but returned to eventually become a starter despite what some called attitude problems. He was chosen by Cincinnati.
A rare player-draft pick trade occurred in the fourth round when Oakland sent cornerback Fabian Washington to Baltimore.