Friday, April 23, 2010

Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh top 2010 NFL draft

Starting with quarterback Sam Bradford going to the St. Louis Rams, the first NFL draft in prime time was a showcase for the Big 12.

The Oklahoma junior became the eighth quarterback since 2001 taken atop the draft. He was immediately followed Thursday night by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska, the AP player of the year; and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and offensive tackle Trent Williams, Bradford's teammates with the Sooners.

Tennessee safety Eric Berry, also an All-American, went fifth to Kansas City, breaking the Big 12 stranglehold. Berry, noted for his versatility, also has the potential to play cornerback.

Then it was back to the Big 12 for Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung, who went to Seattle, where perennial Pro Bowl blocker Walter Jones is expected to announce his retirement on Thursday.

Florida cornerback Joe Haden was chosen by Cleveland, followed by Alabama inside linebacker Rolando McClain to Oakland. Both were All-Americans last season.

That also gave the Southeastern Conference three picks in the first eight, showing how highly the NFL regarded those two conferences.

Clemson's C.J. Spiller went to the Buffalo Bills with the ninth pick, becoming the first running back taken in the draft and prompting plenty of "Oh, no" responses from Giants fans in the packed theater. McClain and Spiller were considered main targets for the Giants.

Jacksonville took California defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, projected as a second-rounder by many, Jaguars with the 10th pick, a surprising move for a franchise that desperately needed a big-name player to boost sagging ticket sales. The Jaguars blacked out nine of 10 home games last season because they could not sell out the games.

The Chargers moved up from 28th overall to 12th in a trade with Miami to select Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews. Mathews, the nation's leading rusher at 150.7 yards a game, is expected to replace LaDainian Tomlinson, who was released in February after nine brilliant seasons in which he became one of the greatest running backs in NFL history.

After trading down twice, the Denver Broncos traded up in the draft to take Tim Tebow with the Ravens' 25th pick.

The selection of the Florida quarterback drew the loudest reaction -- a mix of cheers and boos -- from the audience. Denver gave up picks in the second, third and fourth rounds.

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