The NFL Draft wrapped up its third and final day Saturday, with the fourth round finally proving kind to quarterbacks and the seventh round giving three local products a chance to hear their names called.
Saturday started with a run on sliding signal-callers, including USC’s Matt Barkley to the Eagles with the opening pick. Also going in the fourth were Ryan Nassib of Syracuse (Giants), Landry Jones of Oklahoma (Steelers) and Tyler Wilson of Arkansas (Raiders).
Then, in the draft’s final round, Utah defensive end Joe Kruger was selected by Philadelphia with the 212th overall pick, while SUU quarterback Brad Sorensen went 221st to San Diego and Utah State running back/kick returner Kerwynn Williams went 230th to Indianapolis.
Kruger, who left Utah a year early, had been projected by some as an early-round pick. However, the 6-foot-6, 269-pounder slipped farther than most thought he would.
“It was a little bit scary,” Kruger told The Tribune. “I wasn’t expecting to wait that long. I knew there was a chance I could slip to a low round, so I prepared myself, and that obviously happened.”
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Kruger would be a good fit with Eagles coach Chip Kelly.
“I don’t know their system very well, but Joe is a Chip Kelly kind of guy,” Whittingham said. “He is a blue-collar, hard-working, no-nonsense individual, and that is what Chip Kelly likes.”
Meanwhile, Sorensen became the first player from Southern Utah to ever be selected in the NFL Draft. He threw for a school-record 9,445 yards and 61 touchdowns in three years at SUU.
A native of Grand Terrace, Calif., Sorensen went on an LDS Church mission to Spain out of high school. He then spent one season at San Bernadino Valley Junior College before walking on at BYU in 2009.
Sorensen transferred to Southern Utah in 2010 and helped turn the Thunderbirds’ offense into one of the most prolific in the Football Championship Subdivision.
As for Williams, he had one of the best rushing seasons in USU history as a senior. He ran for 1,512 yards and 15 touchdowns, and caught 45 passes for an additional 697 yards and five touchdowns. Those totals made him 10th in the nation in all-purpose yards per game (171.2).
“Oh, man, I’m at a loss for words right now,” Williams told the Indianapolis Star. “It’s like a dream come true to come up there and be able to play for such a storied organization.”
Williams also recorded 3,390 kick return yards in his career. USU coach Matt Wells said he fielded several calls from the Colts about Williams’ return ability, and Indianapolis’ assistant special teams coach, Brant Boyer, spent time running return drills with Williams at Utah State’s Pro Day in early March.
USU receivers Matt Austin and Chuck Jacobs and defensive lineman Al Lapuaho signed free agent deals, with Seattle, San Francisco and St. Louis, respectively.
Other notables in the draft included former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson (Jaguars) and injured South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore (49ers). Mr. Irrelevant, the 254th and final pick, was tight end Justice Cunningham of South Carolina by the Colts.
Local products drafted
No. 5 • Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU (Lions)
No. 14 • Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah (Panthers)
No. 93 • Will Davis, CB, Utah State (Dolphins)
No. 212 • Joe Kruger, DE, Utah (Eagles)
No. 221 • Brad Sorensen, QB, Southern Utah (Chargers)
No. 230 • Kerwynn Williams, RB, Utah State (Colts)