David Long Jersey

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Addressing depth in the secondary was clearly a priority for the Rams in the 2019 NFL Draft, taking safety Taylor Rapp in the second round, followed by cornerback David Long in the third.

Long is a two-time letterman at the University of Michigan and was a Second Team All-Big Ten selection in his final season in Ann Arbor. In 29 games, Long recorded 38 tackles, two tackles for loss, 17 passes defensed, and three interceptions.

Here are three things to know about Long:

  1. AN L.A. NATIVE

Long is headed home for his professional football career and will take the Coliseum’s field just two miles from where he played his high school ball. After his 4.0 academic and four-star athletic career at Loyola High School, Long committed and then decommitted from Stanford, before aligning with the Wolverines and his new eccentric head coach Jim Harbaugh — who climbed a tree in his recruiting visit to land Michigan’s new top corner.

  1. SHUTDOWN CORNER

Long’s stats might not jump off the page from his three years at Michigan, but according to Pro Football Focus that might just be because his man wasn’t open. Just ahead of the draft, PFF said Long could be a steal — noting that on 595 snaps, Long allowed just 18 receptions on 60 targets for 130 yards. And of the 18 receptions, only three went for a first down, only one for a touchdown. He never allowed more than two catches in a game in Michigan’s man-coverage scheme.

  1. TOP 3-CONE TIME, 20-YARD SHUTTLE

Long posted the best three-cone (6.45) and 20-yard shuttle (3.97) times at the NFL Combine last month, providing a glimpse at his quickness in short space.

His three-cone time topped next-best time by 0.18 seconds and was the No. 5 time since 2000. General manager Les Snead often describes these drills as important for illustrating football speed, since a player rarely runs 40 yards in a straight line during a game.

D’Andre Walker Jersey

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It took five rounds, but the Titans finally addressed arguably their biggest need heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.

With the 168th pick, the Titans selected edge rusher D’Andre Walker, giving a much-needed boost to their attack on the quarterback. The Georgia product joins a edge-rushing group that includes Harold Landry, Cameron Wake, Sharif Finch and Kamalei Correa.

“He’s not a really tall player, but he plays long,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson said of the 6-foot-2, 251-pound Walker. “I think he has value on all three downs. He has good strength, good speed to power. He can set the edge and has a lateral agility to work the line of scrimmage.”

Walker didn’t start a game his first three seasons with Georgia, but he finally broke into the lineup as a senior. He led the Bulldogs in tackles for a loss (11) and sacks (7.5) in 13 starts. He’s slightly undersized as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 system, but he’s got solid burst and can bend well around the edge.

“I feel like I play with a positive mindset, a lot of energy, just (bring) a motor to the football team,” Walker said. “I can compete on special teams. I just look forward to doing what I do best and that’s playing football.”

Walker had hernia surgery in January that prevented him from working out at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“He had his pro day; it was early April. Was moving around pretty good,” Robinson said. “I don’t know where he’s at physically right now, but there wasn’t anything in that workout that made us steer clear of drafting him.”

NFL.com projected Walker going between Rounds 3-4.

“I didn’t really have any expectations on myself,” Walker said. “I just wanted to get a chance to be able to play football again.”

But yeah, falling a bit further than expected is some extra motivation.

“Most definitely, yes sir,” Walker said. “I just look forward to putting on my pads and playing at a very high level.”

Amani Hooker Jersey

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The Iowa Hawkeyes have sent yet another talented defensive back to the NFL.

Amani Hooker was drafted by the Tennessee Titans with the 116th pick in the 2019 NFL draft, making him the fourth Hawkeye player selected so far this weekend. Hooker continues a growing and proud tradition of Hawkeye defensive backs drafted to the league, becoming the third defensive back in as many years to hear his name called on draft weekend.

Hooker has come a long way over the past two years. After beginning his sophomore season as a backup, Hooker eventually worked his way into the starting lineup, flashing a level of athleticism and football acumen that allowed him to stand out almost immediately. His spectacular pick-six against Ohio State on the first play from scrimmage was the match that sparked Iowa’s explosive 55-24 victory over the Buckeyes and propelled him to instant stardom.

As strong as Hooker’s sophomore campaign was, his performance as a junior exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic fans. Hooker showed unprecedented versatility for an Iowa defender, seamlessly shifting between safety, outside linebacker, and slot cornerback. Hooker’s versatility sparked an important evolution in Iowa’s notoriously static defensive scheme as the Hawkeyes adopted a number of 4-2-5 defensive looks designed to capitalize on Hooker’s skill as both a run and pass defender. The Big Ten took notice, and Hooker was named the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year.

Iowa certainly would have benefited immensely had Hooker returned for his senior year, but its the Titans who will get to enjoy his talents on the field next season. Hooker’s ability to play both safety and slot corner draws the obvious comparison to Micah Hyde, and his positional flexibility should allow him to see the field early on.

Congratulations to Amani Hooker! Now go show the NFL why Iowa is the new DB U of the Midwest!