NFL Draft Concludes With Oregon Again Encountering Unprecedented Success
April 21, 2002
EUGENE - The University of Oregon's recent unprecedented success on the football field also was reflected in the National Football League draft as the Ducks finished with six players taken in the two-day, seven-round dispersal of college talent by the 32 NFL teams.
Oregon's second day of activity centered in New York City's Madison Square Garden was highlighted with tight end Justin Peelle becoming the 103rd player taken (4th round) by the San Diego Chargers. In addition, outside linebacker Wesly Mallard was drafted by the New York Giants as a safety in the sixth round (188th player), followed by cornerback Steve Smith in the seventh round (246th player) by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That followed the first day Saturday when quarterback Joey Harrington became the third overall pick by the Detroit Lions, running back Maurice Morris was drafted in the second round (54th player) by Seattle and cornerback Rashad Bauman was drafted in the third round (79th player) by the Washington Redskins.
It marked only the fourth time since the NFL draft was instituted in 1936 that Oregon had six players selected, but represented the most players ever taken from the school since the draft was shortened to encompass only seven rounds in time for the 1994 event. This year's total surpassed the program's previous best showing, with the Ducks benefitting from as many as three players chosen in the first seven rounds on nine separate occasions.
Peelle continues a trend of what has become almost commonplace, with Oregon previously sending no fewer than five tight ends into the NFL ranks since 1992.
'It was a great way to wake up to,' Peelle said of his call by San Diego. 'I met with the tight ends coach (Tim Brewster) up here about a month ago and he was a really nice guy. It's a great opportunity for me to play and have fun. Plus its not that far from home (Dublin, Calif.) so my family and friends could see me play. I'm just excited and looking forward to it.
'These last two days have shown its been a great two days for the senior class and is a testament to the success of the program.'
Only six schools in the country had more players drafted than the Ducks, with national champion Miami leading the way with 11 players selected, followed by Tennessee with 10. Oregon was one of six schools to have six players taken in the draft, joining Stanford and UCLA.
Oregon 2002 NFL Draft Choices
Joey Harrington, QB, Detroit Lions (1st round, 3rd player)
Maurice Morris, RB, Seattle Seahawks (2nd round, 54th player)
Rashad Bauman, CB, Washington Redskins (3rd round, 79th player)
Justin Peelle, TE, San Diego Chargers (4th round, 103rd player)
Wesly Mallard, S, New York Giants (6th round, 188th player)
Steve Smith, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars (7th round, 246th player)