Draft ends big weekend for Brown

ATHENS – Thomas Brown's selection in the NFL Draft on Sunday afternoon was only the second biggest event of his weekend.

Brown, who left Georgia as the school's No. 5 all-time leading rusher (2,646 yards on 529 carries), married his high school girlfriend, Jessica Brown, in a service at West Mitchell C.M.E. in downtown Atlanta on Friday. When he was drafted in the sixth round Sunday by the Atlanta Falcons, his honeymoon was immediately put on hold.

 "The first step is coming in and getting acquainted with the team and earning my spot," Brown said.

 Brown was one of four Georgia players selected in the draft Sunday, going one round after defensive end Marcus Howard and one round before offensive lineman Chester Adams and place-kicker Brandon Coutu.

 This is the first year since 2000 that no Bulldog was selected in the first four rounds of the draft. The four selections are tied for the fewest number Georgia has had in a draft since that year, when only two were picked. Four Bulldogs also were taken in 2007 and 2004.

 Brown will compete with running backs Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood for playing time with the Falcons, who play just 20 miles from where he starred at Tucker High School.

 "Having the opportunity to play professional football with the Falcons is like a dream come true," Brown said.

 Brown was concerned, he said, that the ACL tear and broken collarbone he suffered at Georgia would hurt his draft status.

 "I think they would look at my size, being 5-foot-8, 200 pounds, (and think) that I can't handle pounding," he said. "The two injuries I had didn't help my case at all. Like I said, overall, I feel like I'm an every-down running back. I just ask them to let me come in and prove that."

 Brown is the third former Georgia player drafted by the Falcons in the last three years, joining quarterback D.J. Shockley and tight end Martrez Milner on the roster.

 Howard, who was the first Bulldog selected and the 161st player taken overall, joins a team that has had success with an undersized defensive end in Robert Mathis.

 "I think I'll be able to help the Colts rush the passer," Howard told Colts.com after his selection. "They have a couple of guys just like me, probably just a tad bit bigger. I think I'm going to come in, help them rush the passer and help them on special teams."

 Howard, 6-foot, 237 pounds, led the SEC with 10.5 sacks this year.

"Just watching those guys play the past three or four years, I've seen the defensive ends that they use," he said. "It's pretty much the same Tampa 2 (defense) we got here at UGA. I think I'm going to come in and help the team out.''

 Colts head coach Tony Dungy said Howard's time in the 10-yard dash is one of the fastest he can remember for any player at any position during his time in Indianapolis.

 "Just really a fast, fast guy who has some power off the corner," Dungy said. "He's going to be an interesting guy to work with."

 Coutu became the first Georgia place-kicker drafted since Todd Peterson in 1993. He will compete with veteran kicker Olindo Mare to replace Josh Brown, who the Seahawks lost to free agency.

 "The respect that Seattle had to go ahead and say, ‘Hey, I'm going to draft him in the seventh round,' means a lot to me and I'm just going to work a little harder to hopefully take advantage of the opportunity I have," Coutu told Seahawks Insider.

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