By the third day of the NFL draft, the big stars from college football already have been chosen
By the third day of the NFL draft, the big stars from college football already have been chosen. The fourth through seventh rounds will bring some starters and, once in a while, a great player.
Mostly, though, we’re talking backups or long shots.
Such as the New York Jets choosing two players on Saturday with the same name.
The Jets doubled up on Michael Carters — MC squared? — on the draft’s final day, which could make for some confusing moments in the locker room. New York first took North Carolina running back Michael Carter in the fourth round at pick No. 107. It later selected Duke safety Michael Carter II in the fifth round at No. 154.
Talk about a new angle on the Blue Devils-Tar Heels rivalry.
Cincinnati became the first club to grab a special teamer, opting for Florida placekicker Evan McPherson in the fifth, No. 149 overall. The Gators employ former Bengals kicker Shayne Graham as a special teams assistant.
Perhaps the best-known collegian selected in the fourth round was Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book.
And Book went somewhere with a QB opening: New Orleans, which saw career passing leader Drew Brees retire.
That doesn’t mean Book, the winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history, will be stepping in to the starting lineup in the Big Easy.
Indeed, he’s more likely to be a developmental project behind Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston.
“It’s coach Payton and the offense there and obviously I think it’s huge that Drew Brees was there for as long as he was doing what he was doing,” Book said. “We’re different players but we’re similar in stature, and he proved to everybody down there and in the world that he could do it, and I want to do the same thing, and I feel like I fit in that system well. Those are big shoes to fill. There’s no doubt about it. But that’s exciting, and exciting challenge for me.”
Perhaps it’s notable that the Buccaneers also selected a quarterback this year with their 40-something QB — that guy Brady — still around. Florida’s Kyle Trask went in the second round to Tampa Bay and has a legitimate opportunity to be groomed for the job when Brady finally retires.
Book is known as a strong leader and good athlete. Does the ninth quarterback taken in 2021 have the arm and accuracy to make it behind center in the NFL? We’ll find out eventually.
Eventually, the 32 NFL teams might run out of prospects from the Southeastern Conference. There were 29 SEC players chosen through three rounds — 12 in the opening round — and eight more went in the fourth. That included three from Texas A&M, which finished fourth in the final AP poll: defensive tackle Bobby Brown III to the Rams, offensive lineman Dan Moore and linebacker Buddy Johnson to Pittsburgh.
Other notable selections were Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard to Carolina; Southern California defensive tackle Jay Tufele to Jacksonville to open proceedings Saturday — though Tufele opted out of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic — and teammate Amon-Ra St. Brown to Detroit. St. Brown’s brother Equanimeous plays for Green Bay and their father was a Mr. World.
AP Pro Football Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. and Sports Writer Brett Martel contributed.
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