2017 NFL Draft: Utah dominates impressive Pac-12 class in Philadelphia
S Tedric Thompson (Colorado): 111th overall pick, Seattle Seahawks
The All-Pac-12 second team selection was taken by the Seahawks in the fourth round early Saturday morning. The free safety was the first Pac-12 player to come off the board on the final day of the NFL Draft.
Along with fellow Buff Ahkello Witherspoon (who was drafted in the second round Friday by the San Francisco 49ers), Thompson led the nation with 23 passes defended in 2016. He was one of four total defensive backs the Seahawks selected this year in Philadelphia. Check out the video below to see how much the call from Seattle GM John Schneider meant to Thompson.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) April 29, 2017
RB Joe Williams (Utah): 121st overall pick, San Francisco 49ers
Capping one of the best stories in the Pac-12 this year, Williams was taken by the 49ers to fill their thin running back corps. And while the Allentown, Pennsylvania native will now call the site of his 2016 Foster Farms Bowl MVP performance his NFL home, sweeter yet is the fulfillment of a dream that was nearly derailed as he coped with tragedy.
Williams briefly retired from football just two games into Utah's 2016 season. At the time, the reason was not publicly known. But when Williams did return to the team nearly a month later, he was better than ever, finishing the year with 1,407 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, by far tops for the Utes in both categories. Below is a must-read on why Williams briefly stepped away from the game.
Joe Williams shares an inspiring story of his late sister.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) April 29, 2017
OG Sean Harlow (Oregon State): 136th overall pick, Atlanta Falcons
Harlow was the first of two Beavers to be selected Saturday, heading to the defending NFC champions. The big offensive lineman from San Clemente, California will look to help beef up the Falcons' offensive line with his 6-foot-4, 310-pound frame and protect gunslinger Matt Ryan. Harlow has a bit of an NFL pedigree, with his father, Pat Harlow, being taken by the Patriots in the first round in 1991.
One of the big reasons the Falcons like Harlow is his versatility. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff explained the former Beav could see time at both center and guard. But to hear it straight from Harlow, check the link below to hear a post-draft interview with AtlantaFalcons.com.
"I'm at a loss of words. I'm excited to be around great players and learn from them." - Sean Harlow
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) April 29, 2017
[Related content: Pac-12 defensive backs highlight NFL Draft's second and third rounds]
OT Zach Banner (USC): 137th overall pick, Indianapolis Colts
In perhaps the most entertaining moment of the NFL Draft, Zach Banner went to the Colts in a pick revealed by an orangutan named Rocky.
— NFL Now (@NFLNow) April 29, 2017
Viewers got onboard with the visual stunt that spiced up a long final day of the draft, but fans in Indy are also excited to get Banner. The offensive tackle's primary job will be to protect fellow Pac-12 alum Andrew Luck. At 6-foot-8 and 353 pounds, the former Trojan should help keep defenses away from Luck who's been hit and injured a fair amount in his young career.
WR Chad Hansen (California): 141st overall pick, New York Jets
The Pac-12's receptions leader for 2016 (92 catches) is heading to the Big Apple. The final pick from the Conference of Champions in the fourth round is coming off a breakout season in Berkeley, hauling in 1,249 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Hansen was Davis Webb's go-to receiver in an explosive Golden Bear offense and should only get better learning and playing alongside Eric Decker.
— Cal Football (@CalFootball) April 29, 2017
LB Jayon Brown (UCLA): 155th overall pick, Tennessee Titans
The Titans traded up to snatch up talented inside linebacker Jayon Brown. He led the Bruins in total tackles in both solo (69) and total tackles (119), outpacing teammate Kenny Young in the latter category by 29. Brown also managed to tally seven tackles-for-loss (third on the Bruins) and three interceptions. He'll be mentored by a familiar face as Titans linebackers coach Lou Spanos was Brown's original defensive coordinator at UCLA.
— Titans Report (@titans_fanly) April 29, 2017
OG Isaac Asiatia (Utah): 164th overall pick, Miami Dolphins
Miami selected a force to beck reckoned with not only on the field, but in the locker room. One of the emotional leaders of the Utes, the 24-year-old guard has shown some versatility after playing both sides of the offensive line for the Utes. Asiata posseses plenty of power, benching pressing 225 pounds 35 times, and is best suited for a power running scheme. But when you get down to it, sometimes a throwback smile is the best part about draft day.
— Isaac Asiata (@AsiataFive4) April 29, 2017
S Treston Decoud (Oregon State): 169th overall pick, Houston Texans
Decoud's size and ball skills have many analysts thinking the Texans will utilize the former Beaver as a safety. He tied for the OSU team mark last season with 10 pass breakups and also hauled in two interceptions. Decoud fills a need for Houston that's looking to tighten up their secondary.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) April 29, 2017
DB Brian Allen (Utah): 173rd overall pick, Pittsburgh Steelers
Allen continued the hit parade for Utah at the NFL Draft. As Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake mentioned, the La Marque, Texas native is a recent convert from wide receiver. Pittsburgh feels confident that Allen can develop into a better tackler with more coaching and playing time. He's already shown a good foundation on the defensive side of the ball, hauling in four interceptions in 2016, good enough for fifith in the Pac-12.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 29, 2017
[Related content: 2017 NFL Draft: Six Pac-12 players taken in first round ]
C J.J. Dielman (Utah): 176th overall pick, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals needed to add some offensive line depth and got it in the form former Ute Dielman. Analysts think the Ahwatukee, Arizona product's versatility and experience could be used interchangeably on the ineterior of the line. He's what some are calling a "developmental" pick after only playing five games at center before missing most of 2016 with a foot injury.
— Enquirer Sports (@ENQSports) April 29, 2017
OT Sam Tevi (Utah): 190th overall pick, Los Angeles Chargers
Tevi's selection by the Chargers in the sixth round set a school record as he was the seventh to be drafted in Philly. The two-year starter will look to add a little more protection for Philip Rivers as the franchise moves north to Los Angeles. In an exclusive interview today with Chargers.com, Tevi said he needs to work on finishing his blocks.
Exclusive First Interview with OT Sam Tevi.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) April 29, 2017
OLB Pita Taumoepenu (Utah): 202nd overall pick, San Francisco 49ers
Taumoepenu concluded Utah's draft blitz on Saturday, joing Joe Williams in Santa Clara. The linebacker was primarily a pass rusher last season. He posted 45 tackles over two season in Salt Lake City, including nine sacks in 2016.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) April 29, 2017
OT Conor McDermott (UCLA): 211th overall pick, New England Patriots
It may have been late in the day, but New England was so keen on McDermott they traded up and made him their final pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Super Bowl champs nabbed a former tight end turned starter at left tackle whose offensive experience and basketball skills helped him with his footwork on the line. He'll look to develop into a more polished lineman to protect Tom Brady.
A former Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee.
Fast facts on Conor McDermott: pic.twitter.com/YfZHjKLKhz
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) April 30, 2017
DT Elijah Qualls (Washington): 214th overall pick, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles closed out their 2017 draft class by taking Qualls late in the sixth round. The Petaluma, California native only converted to the defensive side of the ball when he arrived at Washington. His reason for transitioning out of his original running back position is explained below: it was too easy. In 30 collegaite games, he amassed 77 tackles, 11.5 tackles-for-loss and 7.5 sacks.
Elijah Qualls was RB in high school at 260. "It honestly became too easy, that's why I switched to defensive line." https://t.co/75yPkN9i08
— CSN Philly (@CSNPhilly) April 29, 2017
S Leon McQuay III (USC): 218th overall pick, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs closed out the sixth round by making McQuay III their final pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. The former Trojan was one of the heroes in the comeback win over Penn State this past January, picking off Trace McSorley in the final minute and setting up the eventual game-winning field goal. This past season was his best as he tallied 50 tackles, two interceptions and six pass breakups.
5️things to know about Leon McQuay III.
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) April 30, 2017
S Shalom Luani (Washington State): 221st overall pick, Oakland Raiders
The first team All-Pac-12 selection is headed to Oakland. Luani is a converted soccer player hailing from Pago Pago, American Samoa who nabbed eight interceptions and forced three fumbles in two seasons with the Cougars. He plays physical for his size, but will need to improve his tackling skills with the Raiders.
Get to know our seventh round pick Shalom Luani.
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) April 30, 2017
NT Stevie Tu'ikolovatu (USC): 223rd overall pick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A Utah transfer that landed at USC, Tu'ikolovatu is now headed to Tampa Bay. At 331 pounds, the Salt Lake City, Utah native will add some much needed size to the middle of the Bucs defensive line. Head coach Dirk Koetter said he hopes Tu'ikolovatu can help stop opponents' running game enough on first and second down to get his defense into more third down situations.
Bucs Get Bigger with Stevie Tu'ikolovatu
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) April 29, 2017
K Zane Gonzalez (Arizona State): 224th overall pick, Cleveland Browns
It took until the final round, but ASU's record-breaking Zane Gonzalez has a home in the NFL. The Browns made the FBS record holder for career field goals (96) their second-to-last pick of 2017. People in Cleveland couldn't find many downsides about with the former Sun Devil, however some wonder if playing exclusively in Texas and Arizona up until this point in his career will be a problem in the frigid winters of the AFC North.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) April 29, 2017
RB Khalfani Muhammad (California): 241st overall pick, Tennessee Titans
The Titans rounded out their draft class with former Golden Bear speedster Muhammad. He was clocked with a 4.35 40-yard dash time at Cal's Pro Day, faster than any time for a running back at the NFL Combine. Muhammad could be a factor on special teams and has already jokingly talked about racing fellow Pac-12 draftee Adoree' Jackson.
— Cal Football (@CalFootball) April 29, 2017
DT Jordan Carrell (Colorado): 246th overall pick, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys decided to add a little extra pass rushing help by taking Carrell in their final 2017 selection. The 6-foot-3 defensive tackle used his 300-pound frame to collect five sacks last season. He'll join fellow former Buff Chidobe Awuzie in Dallas' camp this summer.
Hear what seventh-round pick Jordan Carrell had to say when he was told he was becoming a Dallas Cowboy.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) April 30, 2017