Teams, Tigers talk about NFL Draft

It wasn't until the second day of the 2003 NFL Draft that LSU had a player selected, but the Tigers went fast and furious in the fourth round.<br><br>In all, four LSU players were selected and a couple shared their thoughts on entering the NFL. Also, team officials had comments on the Tigers they chose to add to their rosters.

Running back Domanick Davis was the first former Tiger taken, going to the Houston Texans with the fourth pick in the fourth round. Davis, a native of Breaux Bridge, was the 101st player taken overall.

"I'm proud that they picked me close to home and I think I can contribute a whole lot to special teams, punt and kickoff returns," said Davis.

Davis is expected to help the Texans on special teams and back up running backs Stacy Mack and Jonathan Wells. Mack, a free agent acquisition from Jacksonville, is expected to take over as starter from Wells, a River Ridge-John Curtis product. James will compete with James Allen for the No. 3 running back spot.

"The opportunity is there," said Davis. "You just got to go there with the same attitude I've had and keep working hard to show them exactly what you can do. If the spot is there, why not try and get it."

Davis, the eighth running back taken in the draft, joins former LSU defensive lineman Howard Green on the Texans' roster. Green was a sixth-round selection in last year's draft, was cut in September but rejoined Houston in October after a brief appearance with the Baltimore Ravens.

Two picks after Davis' selection, the Dallas Cowboys chose Bradie James. It was Dallas where James saw his college career end with a loss to Texas in the 2003 Cotton Bowl.

James will reunite with former LSU assistant head coach Gary Gibbs, who coached linebackers for LSU in 2000 before taking a job with the Cowboys.

"Bradie James has got size and he's got speed," said Jerry Jones, owner and general manager of the Cowboys. "He's got the potential to contribute immediately to our special teams play, and he's got good instincts relative to what we might be able to do as far as our linebackers. He's got a lot of competition there but we think, based on our projections, he'll be able to contribute immediately."

James, who played outside linebacker in his first three seasons at LSU before moving inside as a senior, joins a linebacking corps at Dallas that most analysts feel lacks size. He will probably back-up two-time Pro Bowl choice Dexter Coakley at weakside linebacker, but could also challenge middle linebacker Dat Nguyen.

James is just the second LSU player the Cowboys have drafted and the first since they took David LaFleur with the first-round pick in 1997.

The third LSU player to go in the fourth round was running back LaBrandon Toefield, who chose to enter the draft after his junior season. The Jacksonville Jaguars made him the 132nd overall pick.

Toefield came back from an ACL tear late in his junior year at Independence High School to start for LSU as a redshirt freshman. He tied a Southeastern Conference record as a junior with 19 touchdowns, but tore the ACL in his other knee in the 2001 SEC championship game. Toefield returned for the 2002 season but broke an arm against Louisiana-Lafayette in October, leaving him sidelined for over a month.

Although injuries have been prevalent in Toefield's career, Jacksonville felt confident he was healthy enough to make him the eleventh tailback taken in the draft.

"We've looked at the knee," said James Harris, Jaguars' vice-president and director of player personnel. "The medical staff has given him the grade in order for us to draft him. We feel comfortable that he's over the knee injury and should be even stronger two years removed after the injury." Toefield could crack the two-deeps at running back for Jacksonville since the Jaguars' dealt Mack to Houston. A back-up will be needed for Fred Taylor, the team's starter who faced Toefield and the Tigers when he starred for the University of Florida.

"I've been watching Fred Taylor ever since he was at Florida," said Toefield. "He's a great back and I like the way he runs. He kind of reminds me of myself we seem to have similar styles so I can accept that role of being the back-up. I'm ready for the challenge and ready to step up in that back-up role and do whatever it takes to help the Jaguars win."

Toefield will compete for carries with Elvis Joseph, a Southern University product, and fullback Dan Alexander. The only other LSU player Jacksonville has drafted was offensive tackle Marcus Price in 1995.

The final LSU player drafted Sunday was safety Norman LeJeune, a seventh-round choice of the Philadelphia Eagles. Although most analysts feel LeJeune's best chances for making the roster are as a special teams player, he is heading to a team with a depth problem at his position.

"We just don't have a lot of safeties by number on the roster," said Philadephia head coach Andy Reid. "We'll see how things go here."

Philadelphia has drafted 17 players from LSU, the most recent before LeJeune coming in 1982 when the Eagles picked tight end Greg LaFleur, now the athletic director at Southwest Texas, in the third round. Other LSU players drafted by the Eagles include John Sage (1971), Mike Morgan (1964), Gene Sykes (1963), Charles "Bo" Strange (1961), tackles Bobby Richards (1961), Alvin Dark (1945) and first-round selections Ebert Van Buren (1961) and Steve Van Buren (1944).

The 2003 marked the second time an LSU player had to wait to be picked for the second-day of the draft in its current format. In 2001, offensive lineman Brandon Winey was the first Tiger to go as a sixth-round choice of the Miami Dolphins. Quarterback Josh Booty was also taken in the sixth round by the Seattle Seahawks, and the Carolina Panthers took offensive lineman Louis Williams in the seventh round.


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