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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cupboard bare for NFL talent in state of Michigan

The minute Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones decided to stay in school for his senior season, it became obvious how slim the pickings were for draftable players from the state. Before Michigan DE Brandon Graham's stellar postseason pushed him into the middle of the first round, it was eminently possible that the entire state could be shut out of the first day of the NFL's new three-day draft format.

While the Big Ten had the second-most players (34) selected of any conference, only four of those were from Michigan or Michigan State. It's a pretty good argument for the people who insist that John L. Smith was recruiting MAC-level talent in his years at MSU, and those that insist that Lloyd Carr left the cupboard bare at U-M.

Even with Graham's selection at No. 13 by the Eagles, it was still nearly 36 hours before another player from one of the major universities in the state would come off the board. Small-school workout warrior Jared Veldheer of Hillsdale was picked in the third round by Oakland on Friday, but punter Zoltan Mesko was the next player with ties to the state drafted, midway through the fifth round, shortly before noon on Saturday.

Central Michigan's record-setting duo of QB Dan LeFevour and WR Antonio Brown  were the next two to go off the board, 14 picks apart in the sixth round, then the Raiders nabbed a pair of defensive backs — Michigan State's Jeremy Ware and Michigan's Stevie Brown — with seventh-round picks.

Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren, who entered the draft early, was not selected, and signed a free-agent contract with the DB-rich New York Jets. He's not alone in that ignominy: Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Sneed, once considered a sure-fire first-round pick, went undrafted and was signed by Tampa Bay, while LaGarrette Blount, the troubled tailback from Oregon, signed with the Titans.

Another local product, Michigan State's Blair White, knows all about beating long odds after going from walk-on to the Spartans' leading receiver last season.
UPDATE: Trevor Anderson joined former MSU teammates White and kicker Brett Swenson as an undrafted free agent signed by the Colts. Western Michigan QB Tim Hiller is also in the Colts' rookie camp this week.

Round 1, pick 13 — Michigan DE Brandon Graham, drafted by Philadelphia
Round 3, pick 5   — Hillsdale OT Jared Veldheer, drafted by Oakland
Round 5, pick 19 — Michigan P Zoltan Mesko, drafted by New England
Round 6, pick 12 — Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour, drafted by Chicago
Round 6, pick 26 — Central Michigan WR Antonio Brown, drafted by Pittsburgh
Round 7, pick 8   — Michigan St. CB Jeremy Ware, drafted by Oakland
Round 7, pick 44 — Michigan S Stevie Brown, drafted by Oakland

RB Carlos Brown — New Orleans
WR Greg Mathews — Chicago
RB Brandon Minor — Chicago
OG David Moosman — Arizona
OT Mark Ortmann — Carolina
CB Donovan Warren — New York Jets

Michigan State
PK Brett Swenson — Indianapolis
CB Ross Weaver (Southfield) — Miami
WR Blair White — Indianapolis

Central Michigan
WR Bryan Anderson— New England
CB Josh Gordy — Jacksonville
DE Frank Zombo — Green Bay

Cincinnati FS Aaron Webster (Birmingham Groves) — Houston
Grand Valley State OT Nick McDonald — Green Bay
Saginaw Valley State DT Rob Callaway — Detroit
Wayne State RB Joique Bell — Buffalo
Western Michigan QB Tim Hiller — Indianapolis

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