Four Seminoles get selected on Day 3

LB Nigel Bradham (US Presswire)

No Florida State player heard his name during the first two days of the NFL Draft, but Nigel Bradham got the news in the fourth round and became the first of four Seminole alumni selected.

The Florida State football program had an impressive streak end after Thursday and Friday of the NFL Draft, as a Seminole failed to be selected in the initial three rounds for the first time in a quarter century.

But FSU was well represented Sunday in Rounds 4-7, with four former 'Noles getting the call to officially begin their professional careers. Linebacker Nigel Bradham went in Round 4 to the Buffalo Bills, offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders in Round 5, also to Buffalo, cornerback Mike Harris in Round 6 to the Jacksonville Jaguars and offensive tackle Andrew Datko in Round 7 to the Green Bay Packers.

Bradham displayed big-time talent during the pre-draft evaluation process and looked like he could come off the board in the second or third round, but he was hurt by the fact that the NFL is a passing league more than ever these days and -- along with running back -- the linebacker position has somewhat been devalued.

"It has been a dream," Bradham said via conference call with the Buffalo media. "And then to be able to actually have the opportunity to live that after all the hard work you put in and after everything you have been through in life, to be able to have the opportunity to help your family and contribute in any kind of way you can to your new organization."

The Wakulla High School graduate likely has a chance to compete for the starting job at middle linebacker with Kelvin Sheppard, who was a third-round choice in the 2011 draft and finished his rookie season in Buffalo with a respectable 70 tackles.

Sanders, originally viewed as a potential first rounder in some early mock drafts, was not impressive like Bradham at events like the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine, which led to his stock sliding considerably.

"It's going to be a great opportunity playing with the Bills," said Sanders. "I'm glad they spent a pick on me and trusted me with that. It's going to be nice just being able to go up there and compete with Nigel and hopefully earn a spot on the field."

With the Bills selecting fellow offensive tackle Cordy Glenn from Georgia on Friday in Round 2, Sanders probably shifts his focus to the right tackle spot -- that's where he played the majority of his collegiate career -- to challenge journeymen Erik Pears and Sam Young.

While Harris only suited up for two seasons in Garnet and Gold after starting out at the junior-college ranks, he proved to be a quality No. 3 corner alongside Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes.

"I'm happy to have an opportunity to go up and start an NFL career close to home," Harris said. "It's just a great opportunity to get drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars. I'm really looking forward to it."

The Jaguars appear to be set in the starting lineup with veteran Rashean Mathis and free-agent signee Aaron Ross, but Harris excelled moving inside to play nickel back in defensive coordinator Mark Stoops' NFL-caliber scheme.

Deciding to forego a possible medical redshirt and enter the draft despite continued shoulder trouble wrecking his senior campaign, Datko may have been taken off a lot of franchises' boards due to his questionable medical history.

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"I have to say I'm relieved," said Datko. "It was a long wait but absolutely worth it. The Packers are going to get a player that's going to work as hard as I can to earn a spot with the organization. I'm ready to get it rolling."

The Packers used picks in Round 1 on offensive tackles in both 2011 and 2011, first taking Bryan Bulaga from Iowa and then Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State, although the recent release of long-time starter Chad Clifton potentially opens up a roster spot for Datko.

Three more Seminoles signed with clubs shortly after the selection process ended Sunday as undrafted free agents: safety Terrance Parks (Kansas City Chiefs), punter Shawn Powell (Buffalo) and wide receiver Bert Reed (Cleveland Browns).


John Crist is the editor-in-chief of NoleDigest.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.

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