NEW YORK, N.Y. -- A school-record four University of Michigan defenders were selected in the first 50 picks of the 2007 NFL Draft held today (Saturday, April 28) at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Cornerback Leon Hall (Vista, Calif./Vista HS) became the 42nd Wolverine to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft with his selection by the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 18 overall. Defensive tackle Alan Branch (Rio Rancho, N.M./Cibola HS), defensive end LaMarr Woodley (Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw HS) and inside linebacker David Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Ottawa Hills HS) were plucked off the board early in the second round to complete the record-setting quartet.
The Wolverine standouts surpassed the previous best of four drafted defender in the first 64 picks of the 1972 NFL Draft. That group consisted of first-round picks in defensive back Thom Darden and linebacker Mike Taylor and third-round choices in defensive end Tom Beckman and linebacker Mike Keller.
Michigan and Louisiana State were the only schools to have four players picked in the first 50 picks of the draft. All four of the Tigers came in the first round. Tennessee and Texas both had three players chosen among the top 50. Hall was the second cornerback selected in the draft, Harris the second inside linebacker, Branch the third defensive tackle and Woodley the sixth defensive end.
Hall was chosen by the Bengals with the 18th overall pick of the draft. He set Michigan's career pass breakup record (43) and finished his senior season as a finalist for both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (defensive player of the year) and Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back). A 2006 consensus All-America, Hall was an All-Big Ten first team selection in 2006.
The Arizona Cardinals traded up five spots to take Branch with the first pick of the second round. After acquiring the 33rd overall selection from the Oakland Raiders, the Cardinals made Branch the 11th underclassmen chosen in the draft. Branch entered the draft following his junior year after earning 2006 Associated Press All-America honors and first-team All-Big Ten accolades.
Woodley was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 46th overall selection and 14th pick of the second round. He won the Lombardi Trophy (nation's top lineman) and the Ted Hendricks Award (nation's top defensive end) as a senior. A 2006 consensus All-America, Woodley was a consensus All-Big Ten first team selection after being named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year.
The New York Jets moved up 16 spots in the second round to grab Harris with the pick immediately after Woodley. The Jets used the 47th overall pick and the 15th selection of the second round to reunite Harris with his former position coach and defensive coordinator at Michigan, Jim Herrmann, the organization's linebackers mentor. Harris led the Wolverines in tackles the past two seasons and earned All-Big Ten first team honors as a senior. He was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award (nation's top linebacker) and gained second-team AP All-America honors.
Following are the Wolverines selected in the top 50 of the 2007 NFL Draft:
NFL Draft Notes:
|Player, Position ||NFL Team ||Overall Pick (Round, Selection)|
|Leon Hall, CB ||Cincinnati Bengals ||18th (1st, No. 18)|
|Alan Branch, DT ||Arizona Cardinals ||33rd (2nd, No. 1)|
|LaMarr Woodley, DE ||Pittsburgh Steelers ||46th (2nd, No. 14)|
|David Harris, ILB ||New York Jets ||47th (2nd, No. 15)|
Hall is the third Wolverine cornerback picked in the first round during Carr's tenure. He joins Charles Woodson (fourth pick by Oakland Raiders, 1998) and Marlin Jackson (29th by Indianapolis Colts, 2005).
Hall joins former U-M tailback Chris Perry, a first-round pick in 2004, and cornerback Brandon Williams on the Cincinnati roster.
Branch reunites with defensive line partner Gabe Watson in Arizona.
Branch is the highest U-M defensive tackle picked since the Chicago Bears made defensive tackle/end Dave Gallagher the 20th overall pick of the 1974 draft.
Woodley is the first Wolverine defensive end drafted since the Dallas Cowboys made Kevin Brooks a first-round choice in the 1985 draft (17th pick).
Woodley joins former Wolverine linebacker Larry Foote, cornerback Grant Mason and tight end Jerame Tuman on the Steelers roster.
Harris is the highest U-M linebacker selected in the NFL draft since the Denver Broncos made Ian Gold a second round pick in 2004 (40th overall).
In addition to Herrmann, Harris will be joined in the Jets linebacking corps by former U-M outside linebacker Victor Hobson.
Michigan has had at least one player selected in 69 consecutive drafts (1939-current).
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