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Sports : Four MU Tigers Taken In NFL Draft, Six Sign Free-Agent Deals
Posted by Tom on 2014/5/12 10:10:00 (529 reads) News by the same author

When training camps across the National Football League in late July, ten rookies will hail from the University of Missouri, including two players drafted by the in-state St. Louis Rams.

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After no Missouri players were chosen in Thursday night's first round in New York City, two players, both Missouri natives, were chosen on Friday night.

Defensive end Kony Ealy, a junior who left Missouri a year early to enter the draft, was chosen by the Carolina Panthers with the 60th overall pick (2nd round). Ealy is a native of New Madrid, Missouri.

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Just four picks later, the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks chose a Mizzou senior and native of Lebanon, Missouri, in offensive lineman Justin Britt.

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The two SECOND-round selections mark the first since since 1981 that two MU Tigers were taken in the second round. That year, running back James Wilder went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with defensive back Eric Wright taken by the San Francisco 49ers.

On Saturday afternoon, two more Tigers heard their names announced as NFL draft picks. Independence, Missouri native E.J. Gaines, a 2013 1st-team All-SEC selection, was taken with the 12th pick of the sixth round by the St. Louis Rams, becoming the highest-drafted Missouri cornerback since 1983.

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Defensive end Michael Sam of Hitchcock, Texas was taken one round later by the Rams. Sam had a superb senior season at Missouri, being named SEC Defensive Player of the Year, leading the league in tackles for loss (19) and quarterback sacks (11 1/2), while picking up 48 tackles overall. His lack of ideal size and poor combine performance were noted as reasons for his slide down the draft board.

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Six more Tigers were picked up as non-drafted free agents this weekend after the conclusion of the three-day proceedings.

Liberty, Missouri native Marcus Lucas appears to have landed in a good spot, with the Carolina Panthers, a team specifically looking to improve its wide receiver depth. He will join former teammate Kony Ealy in Charlotte. Lucas had 58 catches for 692 yards and three touchdowns as a senior at MU.

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Signing with the Miami Dolphins is senior linebacker Andrew Wilson, who joined Missouri after a standout high senior career at Raymore-Peculiar. Wilson is expected to head to Miami for workouts on Monday.

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Wide receiver L'Damian Washington, one of the spiritual and emotional leaders for the 2013 Tigers, will play not far from his Shreveport, Louisiana home, signing with the Dallas Cowboys, described as his "childhood team".

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Tight end Eric Waters signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, while fan favorite, running back Henry Josey signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, where the lightning quick athlete, just three years removed from a devastating knee injury, could have a positive impact with Chip Kelly's uptempo offense.

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Quarterback James Franklin will look to earn a spot behind starting quarterback Matthew Stafford with the Detroit Lions. As a senior, Franklin threw for 2,429 yards and 19 touchdowns at Missouri. He did miss four games with a separated right shoulder.

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The Kansas City Star reports that left guard Max Copeland is "talking with a couple of teams and exploring his options". Copeland could be shifted to a fullback/blocking back position at the professional level.

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