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'Canes rule Round 1 with 5 picks

It's a first for Miami and ties an NFL record for first-round picks from one school.

By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 21, 2002

Last season, the Miami Hurricanes dominated college football with an undefeated season and a national championship.

Saturday, the Hurricanes dominated the NFL draft.

For the second consecutive season, Miami stole the show, collecting a school-record five first-round selections in the draft.

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie led the way as the Vikings' No. 7 pick and the first from the state of Florida. Tight end Jeremy Shockey was selected by the Giants at No. 14, cornerback Phillip Buchanon was the 17th pick for the Raiders, free safety Edward Reed went No. 24 to the Ravens and cornerback Mike Rumph went No. 27 to San Francisco.

Florida offensive tackle Mike Pearson, of Seffner, was the 40th pick of the Jaguars in the second round and wide receiver Reche Caldwell, a Tampa native, was selected 48th by the Chargers.

The Hurricanes had five of the state's seven first-round picks and tied an NFL record for the most from one school. USC had five in 1968. The Hurricanes have the most first-rounders in any two-year period since the NFL and AFL merged drafts in 1967.

With the selection of running back Clinton Portis in the second round (51st to Denver), the Hurricanes had six of the state's 10 players taken in the first two rounds. Miami has had at least one first-round selection in eight consecutive drafts.

McKinnie, who didn't allow a sack in two seasons at Miami, had been projected as a top-5 pick, but critics questioned his work ethic. Now facing the responsibility of protecting Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper's blind side, McKinnie said he's motivated by that criticism.

"(He is) a very good quarterback who I am happy to be able to protect, being his bodyguard," McKinnie said. "I am ready to come out here and get things going. There is no disappointment. I am satisfied that I went in the top 10. There are only 32 people in the first round, period, so I am glad to be one of the elite that is in the top 10."

Receiver Javon Walker was the only Seminole selected in the first two rounds. Green Bay traded up to take him at No. 20.

"To tell you the truth, I'm excited," he said. "I think it's a great opportunity for me to come in and be around one of the best quarterbacks (Brett Favre) in the game. I'm looking forward to coming in and helping the Green Bay Packers win games."

Florida cornerback Lito Sheppard, considered one of the best cover men in college despite a less than stellar junior season, was selected No. 26 by Philadelphia.

"He will be able to come in, compete and do a nice job for us," Eagles coach Andy Reid said.

Florida wide receiver Jabar Gaffney was the first pick of the second round (Texans).

"Maybe I can be (No. 1 overall David Carr's) go-to guy," Gaffney said. "It's exciting."

Pearson, who dropped from a projected first-round pick, is expected to replace former All-Pro Tony Boselli at left tackle.

"It's a very good pick for us," Jacksonville coach Tom Coughlin said. "He's and outstanding pass blocker. I think he'll come around in the (run-blocking) phase."

Reed is the third Miami safety taken in the first-round in the past five years, while Shockey is the second first-round tight end selected in the past three years.

"I can't wait to get down there and get started on learning the playbook," Reed said. "I wanted to play for a team that's going to contend for the championship year in and year out. I want to play for a good team, and I feel like Baltimore's a great choice for me."

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