Shalom Luani drafted by Oakland Raiders with the third pick in Round 7

COUGAR SAFETY Shalom Luani will head to the NFL in silver and black. The 6-0, 205-pounder was selected with the third pick in the seventh round on Saturday by the Oakland Raiders. "I'm very excited to join the Raiders family and I feel very blessed to have been picked up by them," Luani texted CF.C.

"I don't know what to say," he is quoted as saying on the Raiders' website. "I'm really excited to be part of the Raider family.

Luani, in his two seasons at Washington State out of junior college, was a hard-hitting force both in the secondary and in support of the run.,

He was third on the team in tackles in 2016 with 68 including 8 1/2 for loss. The year before, he racked up 90 tackles.

Luani had eight interceptions in his two years on the Palouse, four each season.

He played safety and nickel at Washington State.  In the NFL, it's possible he could become a safety/linebacker hybrid, the so-called "moneybacker" role popularized by former WSU safety Deone Bucannon with the Arizona Cardinals.

Luani was the 221st overall pick in the draft.  He found a fan in ESPN analyst Mel Kiper.

"I almost put him in the top 10 of draft-eligible safeties based on the way he was playing early to midseason," said Kiper after Oakland drafted Luani. "He was around the ball a lot, had real good instincts ... he was the tempo setter, he was the ringleader of that defense."

Luani was the top safety in the 60-yard shuttle at the NFL scouting combine back in February and Oakland brought him in for a pre-draft interview recently.

Luani is the first Cougar drafted by the Raiders since safety Eric Frampton was selected in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. He is the first Cougar defensive player drafted since defensive lineman Xavier Cooper in the third round of the 2015 draft (Cleveland). Luani is also the first Cougar defensive back drafted since Deone Bucannon was taken in the first round with the No. 27 overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2014.

MEANWHILE, COUGAR RECEIVER Gabe Marks went underrated and as the afternoon turned to evening the rumors were varied -- from the Jets to the Seahawks -- about where was planning to sign as an undrafted free agent.

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