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Draft day will decide fates

NFL figures to come calling for some Ducks, Beavers and other locals
by: , PISCITELLI

Three or more Beavers and one or two Ducks figure to be plucked in the NFL draft, which takes place Saturday and Sunday in New York. Safety Sabby Piscitelli could be the first Oregon State player taken. Mock drafts have him going in the third or fourth round. “I’m hearing first day (the first three rounds) for sure, and I’m thinking more second round, but we’ll see,” Piscitelli says from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. OSU offensive tackle Adam Koets and tight end Joe Newton are more likely to be taken the second day, along with Oregon center Enoka Lucas and possibly Duck wide receiver Jordan Kent. OSU quarterback Matt Moore has an outside shot at being drafted. Other state of Oregon products to watch for include Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky from Hermiston, Portland State linebacker Adam Hayward, Western Oregon tight end Kevin Boss, offensive tackle Andy Olemgbe from Texas Southern and Benson High, and Boise State receiver Legedu Naanee from Franklin High. Piscitelli, 6-3 and 225 pounds, fared well at the NFL combine in Indianapolis and at Pro Day in Corvallis, running a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash and hoisting 225 pounds 22 times on the bench press. Says one NFL scout, who asked for anonymity: “Sabby did well in his interviews, knows football, wants to be good. He’s a big, strong, fast athlete. Somebody is going to like him because of his measurables. What he needs to work on is his tackling, but he knows it, and he’ll work to improve. He’s a potential first-day guy.” Koets is projected by one mock draft to go to Oakland with the final pick in the third round. Another mock draft has him going undrafted. He was ninth among offensive linemen with a 5.07 40 at the combine and was top five in other fitness tests except the bench press, where he lifted 225 pounds 20 times. “I think I’ll go somewhere the second day,” the 6-6, 300-pound Koets says from his home in Santa Ana, Calif. “My agent (Leo Goeas) is thinking maybe fourth round. I did real well in the interviews and other stuff at the combine — I think it helped me a lot.” Says the scout: “Adam is real athletic for an offensive tackle. He’s a guy some teams are going to like because of that, but some won’t because he’s not a physical mauler. He’s smart and a pretty good pass protector. If somebody took him at the end of the first day, it wouldn’t surprise me.” Senior year hurt Newton The 6-7, 255-pound Newton is ranked among the top 10 tight ends in the draft but didn’t fare well in some of the physical tests at the combine. He did better at Pro Day, running 4.74 in the 40 and lifting 225 pounds 20 times. “Two juniors (Greg Olsen of Miami and Zach Miller of Arizona State) are considered ahead of the rest of us, and I’m not sure how I’m rated after that,” Newton says from his apartment in Corvallis. “I did a lot of good things at the combine, and there were some things I was unhappy with. I did well in the catching and blocking drills and on the Wonderlic (intelligence) test. I’m confident I’ll get drafted, but I’ve heard anywhere from the third round to the seventh.” The scout notes that Newton had a disappointing senior season. “He went backward in the eyes (of scouts),” he says. “He’s not a line-of-scrimmage tight end, and he doesn’t play very fast. He’s proved he’s real dangerous in the red zone, though, and he has great ball-catching radius and range. I think he’ll go in the late rounds.” After finishing the season strong, Moore wasn’t invited to the combine. No mock draft has him being selected. Says the scout: “Part of what hurts Matt’s chances was the decision-making he made as a junior and in the early part of last season. If you watched him the latter part of the year, you like him a lot more than before. Physically, he has some tools. I know some teams are interested. It wouldn’t surprise me if he gets taken by somebody.” Kent considered a project The 6-4, 300-pound Lucas is ranked as the eighth-best center in the draft by one service and could go in the fourth round or later. The scout calls him “a tough and pretty talented kid. I don’t know how high, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him drafted.” Kent, 6-5, 210, isn’t mentioned in any of the mock drafts and has only two years of football experience, but with size and world-class sprinter speed, he’s been noticed. Says the scout: “Jordan is raw, a developmental guy. He dropped a lot of balls last season; there is some naiveté in his play. One of the things hurting him is nobody has a (40-yard dash) time on him since last spring because of his (Jan. 8) toe surgery. Somebody will sign him as a free agent if they don’t draft him. He’s a real interesting project.” Kent says he doesn’t expect to be playing Sundays next season. If he has to go to NFL Europe or play on practice squads for three or four years, so be it. “You just want to make a team in the first year,” he says. “I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ve dealt with a lot of adversity to get to this point. It builds character. It’s fun to challenge myself. It’s a blast.” Kent has visited Atlanta and Seattle. St. Louis, Carolina and the New York Giants have shown interest. Scouts from St. Louis and Seattle viewed his 40-yard dash and receiving drills last week in Eugene, his first such showing since surgery to repair toe ligaments. He started running only three weeks ago. The injury certainly stunted his development, “but I’m not bent out of shape about it. Everything happens for a reason,” he says. Despite the layoff, Kent ran 40 times in the low 4.5-second range in the Eugene workout, and “my hands feel great right now.” Undrafted players could sign Zabransky, who will be on the cover of EA Sports’ NCAA Football 08 video game this summer, thinks he could go from the third to sixth round, or maybe the seventh. Some teams could ask him to move to safety, and he says he’ll do that, if necessary. One mock draft has the 6-6, 255-pound Boss going late in the third round. Says the scout: “It probably won’t be that high, but Boss will get drafted by somebody. He’s not a line-of-scrimmage tight end, but he’s athletic, with some speed, a developmental guy.” Several Ducks probably will be looking to sign free-agent contracts after the draft. The list includes tight end Dante Rosario, defensive lineman Matt Toeaina, linebacker Blair Phillips, safety J.D. Nelson and offensive lineman Palauni Ma Sun. Rosario has visited Philadelphia, Toeaina went to Cleveland and Nelson has been to Seattle. “Only 225 guys are picked (in the draft),” Rosario says. “It’s a small market, and there are a lot of people in it.” This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.