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NFL Draft: Five more ND players chosen

Mike Monaco | Monday, April 29, 2013

After the Bengals selected Tyler EIfert in the first round of the NFL Draft, five more Notre Dame players, including linebacker Manti Te’o, were drafted over the weekend.

Te’o, the Heisman runner-up and a projected first-round pick by many draft experts, fell to the sixth pick of the second round (38th overall), when the San Diego Chargers traded up to select the Hawaii native.

“Manti Te’o is a once-in-a-generation type kid,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said in a press release. “I’ve not been associated with a better player, leader and man in my tenure as a college football coach. “

Te’o, who said his fall out of the first round will motivate him in San Diego, expressed excitement about the chance to replace the late Junior Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowler who spent 13 illustrious seasons with the Chargers.

“It means I’m going to do whatever it takes to carry on that tradition that guys like him started,” Te’o told Chargers.com after being selected Friday. “I want to make [Seau] proud.  He was a dominant linebacker, and that’s what I want to be.  This team has a history of great linebackers and I want to be a part of that tradition.”

The next Notre Dame selection didn’t come until the sixth round, which then set off a string of Irish players whose names were called. Former safety Jamoris Slaughter was selected by the Cleveland Browns with the seventh pick of the sixth round (175th overall). Slaughter, who missed much of the 2012 season after tearing his Achilles against Michigan Sate, was denied a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA and then elected to enter the NFL Draft. 

“I was expecting to go undrafted just due to my injury and getting hurt the third game of the season,” Slaughter said Saturday in a conference call with reporters. “I know I did well in my senior year, but my fifth year, sitting out the entire time, I knew that it would affect me. It was a surprise to me that I did get drafted.  I’m excited to be a Cleveland Brown and I’m just ready to get back out there and get to work.”

Running back/receiver Theo Riddick was drafted by the Detroit Lions with the 31st pick of the sixth round (199th overall). With the very next pick, the Baltimore Ravens selected defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, who, like Slaughter, is recovering from injury after tearing his ACL in the BCS National Championship Game.

“I know the knee kind of set me back a little bit, but hey, you can control only what you can control,” Lewis-Moore said in a conference call Saturday. “I’m rehabbing, working my butt off to get right again. I’m just really happy for the opportunity.”

Another Irish safety came off the board when the Atlanta Falcons selected Zeke Motta with the 38th pick of the seventh round (244th overall). Motta told AtlantaFalcons.com the weekend was “nerve-wracking.”

“I sat down and watched pretty much the whole draft from start to finish,” Motta said. “I was keeping it quiet, staying with the [family]. Certainly as the day wore on it was frustrating but at the same time what a relief it was to get that call and to be asked to be an Atlanta Falcon, it was just a huge relief and this is the dream come true.”

Later on Saturday, running back Cierre Wood signed an undrafted free-agent deal with the Texans, and offensive linemen Braxston Cave and Mike Golic Jr. signed with the Browns and Steelers, respectively. On Sunday, receiver John Goodman signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu