Six Hurricaned Drafted on First Day

The first three rounds of the 2006 NFL Draft have come and gone while six Miami Hurricanes heard their name called from the podium.

At first, it appeared that U.M.'s 11 year streak of having a player drafted in the first round was coming to an end, but with the next to last pick of the round (the 31st overall), the Seattle Seahawks selected cornerback Kelly Jennings.

Heading into the draft, it was no secret that the defending NFC champs were looking to acquire a corner, the only question was, which one would they select?

During a press conference following the draft, Seahawks Team President Tim Ruskell said they chose Jennings over the other top prospects at the cornerback position because of the consistency he showed during his career at Miami.

Like most first-rounders, "KJ" will be expected to contribute immediately, and may even be a starter for the opening game of the season. Standing in his way on Seattle's depth chart are Kelly Herndon and Jordan Babineaux, but if Jennings looks good throughout training camp, Babineaux may be moved to safety. It's a good bet you'll see plenty of Mr. Jennings on Sundays next fall.

In the second round, three Hurricanes found out who they will be suiting up for next year. Rocky McIntosh was picked up by the Redskins with the 35th overall pick, Sinorice Moss went to the New York Giants, and the Chicago Bears selected Devin Hester with the 57th pick.

McIntosh joins three other high profile former Canes (Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, and Sean Taylor) on Washington's roster. Since drafting Lavar Arrington second overall in 2000, the Redskins haven't picked a linebacker this early in the draft, so the coaching staff must see something in Rocky that they like. He's got decent size, has amazing quickness, and should be able to adjust to the professional game fairly quickly.

Like McIntosh, Moss will also be NFL teammates with another former Miami star, Jeremy Shockey. Giants quarterback Eli Manning must be grinning from ear-to-ear as he thinks about his receiving options this upcoming season. He already had Shockey at tight end and Plexico Burress at receiver, but he now also has the smaller-yet-lightning fast Moss. Like his older brother Santana, Sinorice will create match-up problems for opposing defenses and should se plenty of balls thrown his way in '06.

There's no doubt that Devin Hester has more pure talent that 99% of the other players in the draft, but the reason he fell to the late second round is because NFL scouts had the same problem that Larry Coker had last year: deciding where to put Devin on the field.

"A jack of all trades, yet a master of none" is the reputation Hester has acquired, but he was exactly what the Bears were looking for. They need defensive backs and kick/punt returners, so it only made since to draft Devin and kill two birds with one stone. He'll definitely be Chicago's starting return man next season, and could compete for a back-up spot in the defensive backfield.

In the third and final round of the day, two Hurricane offensive linemen were drafted. The Houston Texans took Lone Star State native Eric Winston with the 66th overall pick, and 23 selections later, the Carolina Panthers picked up Rashad Butler.

The Texans already have their quarterback and running back of the future (otherwise they would have taken Reggie Bush with the first overall pick), but they need some big men to protect these prized possessions. At 6-6, 311 lbs. Winston is the best gift the Texans could have given quarterback David Carr. One man alone can't stop Carr from getting sacked five to ten times a game, but maybe the gunslinger can be a little more relaxed in the pocket knowing that the former Miami O-lineman is protecting his blind side.

While Winston will probably be a starter immediately, Butler will be given time to develop in Carolina, and that's a good thing. He has the size and agility to play in the NFL, but isn't quite prepared for the speed and power of opposing defensive lineman. Let's all hope he protects Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme a little more than he did Kyle Wright last year.

Well, that about does it for now, but check back tomorrow for a full recap of Hurricanes selected during day two (rounds four through seven) of the 2006 NFL draft.

David Hamilton can be reached at tvdavidhamilton@aol.com


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