Rutgers Football: Solid Showing at Draft Is Evidence of Program's Improvement
Now that the NFL draft has concluded, an assessment can be made regarding the Scarlet Knights taken from coach Kyle Flood's program.
The fact that seven players from Rutgers were drafted this year shows the progress the team has made in the past 10 years, especially given that the Scarlet Knights outpaced future Big Ten opponents Ohio State (three players), Michigan (two players) and Penn State three3 players).
Those players fortunate enough to hear their names called at the podium in Radio City Music Hall included:
Steve Beauharnais, inside linebacker. Projected as a sixth- or seventh-round pick before the draft, Beauharnais was drafted in the seventh round (235 overall) by the New England Patriots, joining two of his fellow classmates under Bill Belichick.
Marcus Cooper, cornerback. The general consensus on Cooper is that he was not likely to even be a late-round pick in this April's draft, but the San Francisco 49ers took a chance by taking him toward the end of Round 7 (252 overall).
Khaseem Greene, outside linebacker. The Big East's leading tackler in 2011 and 2012 (and the conference's Defensive Player of the Year) was projected to be a second- or third-round pick. Incredibly, Greene fell to the third day, and was finally taken by the Chicago Bears in the fourth round (117 overall).
Duron Harmon, safety. Harmon was forecast as late-round pick, likely a seventh-rounder, but Bill Belichick reached up and took the young DB in the third round (91 overall), again uniting him with teammates Logan Ryan and Steve Beauharnais.
Jawan Jamison, running back. The first 1,000-yard rusher for Rutgers since Ray Rice was projected as a fourth- or fifth-round draft choice, but fell to the seventh round (228 overall), until corralled by the Washington Redskins.
D.C. Jefferson, tight end. The injured Jefferson was not even projected to be drafted by CBSSports.com, but was taken in Round 7 (219 overall) by the Arizona Cardinals.
Logan Ryan, cornerback. Ryan, following a solid showing at the NFL combine, was projected as a second- or third-round choice. New England named Ryan in the third round (83 overall), and only eight picks later, chose his defensive backfield cohort Duron Harmon.
Following a strong showing for the program in 2013, NFL general managers continued to collect talent from Rutgers, quickly moving to sign a number of Scarlet Knights to free agent contracts.
R.J. Dill, tackle. Many had projected that Dill would not be drafted, and following the conclusion of Round 7, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed Dill to a free-agent contract.
Mark Harrison, wide receiver. Projected by CBSSports.com as a possible seventh-round pick, Harrison went undrafted. It is speculated that the now-infamous trashed hotel story (as reported by Doug Farrar on Yahoo!Sports.com) soured teams on reaching for Harrison. Shortly after the draft concluded, however, the Chicago Bears opted to sign Harrison as a free agent, thereby reuniting him with linebacker Khaseem Greene.
Brandon Jones, defensive back. Undrafted, Jones was quickly snapped up by the New England Patriots, where he will contend with fellow Scarlet Knights DBs Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan and Devin McCourty.
Timothy Wright, wide receiver. While he went undrafted, Wright was fortunate enough to get a free-agent invite to join the Oakland Raiders.
Not surprisingly, there were prospects from the 2012 Scarlet Knights that did not get drafted, but what was unexpected was the player who was left standing when the music stopped.
Undrafted and Unsigned Scarlet Knights
Scott Vallone, defensive tackle. Despite being rated as the No. 31 DT in this year's draft, NFL teams passed on Vallone, and teams have yet to sign him as a free agent.
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