University of Kentucky defensive tackle Corey Peters was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round of the NFL Draft on Friday night.
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Peters was the 19th pick of the third round and the 83rd overall.
The Falcons were one of the teams that Peters visited during the draft process.
"Getting drafted is something I've always looked forward to," Peters said. "I had a great visit with the Falcons. They have great coaches, great facilities. It was one of the places I was hoping for. It's close. I really didn't want to end up on the West Coast."
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Peters was projected as a sixth- or seventh-round pick in many mock drafts. But five defensive tackles were taken in the first round on Thursday, and many teams in the second and third rounds wanted to make sure they got a tackle before they were all off the board.
"I learned a while back not to pay attention to projections," Peters said. "A couple of teams had expressed interest in possibly drafting me in the third round. It was just a matter of things falling into place."
Peters is UK's highest draft pick since Vincent "Sweet Pea" Burns was taken in the third round by the Indianapolis Colts in 2005.
The big crowd at Radio City Music Hall for the second night of the NFL draft had to wait for the big names to go. They got a star-studded show while they hung around Friday.
Until Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, Stanford's Toby Gerhart, Texas' Colt McCoy and Alabama's Terrence "Mount" Cody were selected, the audience was treated to Jim Brown, Dan Marino and Ray Lewis. Floyd Little, Rod Woodson and John Randle.
Unfortunately, they were announcing the selections, not being picked.
Eventually, those choices became high-profile, beginning with Fighting Irish QB Clausen at 48th overall — more than 40 picks lower than some projected.
Clausen, a three-year regular under Charlie Weis, was 16-18 as a starter after being one of the nation's most sought recruits. The Panthers' choice drew scattered boos but, with Jake Delhomme gone and Matt Moore the incumbent, Carolina seems a good landing spot.
"I think it's going to help me tremendously, being in Coach Weis' system," Clausen said of the offense run by John Fox in Carolina. "Coach Fox told me he said it was the same exact system I've played in the last three years. I'm really excited about that."
NFL Draft consultant Gil Brandt noted that Clausen brought his team from behind four times to win — and brought his team from behind four times and lost.
"He's an excellent football player, but he doesn't have great arm strength. That's all right though," Brandt said.
Clausen, the first Notre Damer chosen this year, kicked off a spurt of more recognizable selections — and three All-Americans. The first Southern California player, safety Taylor Mays, went to San Francisco, followed by Alabama cornerback-kick returner Javier Arenas to Kansas City, and Gerhart, the Heisman runner-up, to the Vikings.
Minnesota, which did not select Thursday night, traded up 11 spots in the second round for Gerhart, also a top baseball prospect. The Vikings needed a backup to star runner Adrian Peterson after losing Chester Taylor in free agency.
"I'm there to complement the best running back in the league, Adrian Peterson," Gerhart said. "It's amazing. I remember when I first started college, Adrian Peterson was the man in college. I remember saying I want to emulate my game after him."
McCoy finally was drafted, 85th overall, by Cleveland. That was one slot after his favorite target with the Longhorns, Jordan Shipley, went to Cincinnati.
On hand to make the announcement about his four-year starter and the winningest QB in NCAA history: Texas Coach Mack Brown.
"It has been a long day," McCoy said after speaking to Browns President Mike Holm gren. "I told him, 'You won't regret it, and we'll win a lot of games.' "
Wideout Golden Tate, Clausen's college teammate, went 60th overall to Seattle.
Early on, instead of Heisman Trophy winners and All-Americans, the choices were Indiana tackle Rodger Saffold, Virginia cornerback Chris Cook, and UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price. Yes, quality players, but hardly headline makers.
Needing a blocker for quarterback Sam Bradford, the first overall pick the previous night, the Rams ignored several trade offers to stay put. They went for an experienced player who started for four seasons with the Hoosiers.
"Oh man, it was a long night," Saffold said. "Your heart's racing the entire time, and I'm just glad St. Louis called. I didn't know how much longer I could have taken it."
The Rams fielded plenty of bids for the pick.
"We would have had to move significantly back in the second round," General Manager Billy Devaney said, "and what we were going to get, we didn't think it was worth passing up a lineman that we deemed had this much talent."
Minnesota, which traded out of the first round, has had injury problems at cornerback, so Cook should be helpful. And Tampa Bay's defensive line has been a sieve, which it addressed with the selections of Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy at No. 3 overall and then Price.
Other notables on Day 2: Kansas City got a prime kick returner and receiving threat in 5-foot-8, 165-pound Dexter McCluster of Mississippi; Alabama's 350-pound All-American defensive tackle, Cody, went to Baltimore; and Cincinnati selected Florida linebacker Carlos Dunlap.
South Florida safety Nate Allen was taken by Philadelphia with the second-rounder the Eagles got from Washington for Donovan McNabb.
Oregon safety T.J. Ward went to Cleveland, a selection announced by the Browns' greatest player, Jim Brown.
Marino introduced the Dolphins' selection of linebacker Koa Misi of Utah, Lewis announced linebacker Sergio Kindle of Texas and Little revealed that Denver took tackle Zane Beadles, also of Utah.
The final player selected on Day 2 was Alabama All-America guard Mike Johnson.
One player on hand was Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski, who went 42nd overall to New England. The Patriots have a sparse group at the position.
"I know Coach Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches out there," Gronkowski said, "and I know Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks out there, and he will be flinging me the ball."
Gronkowski didn't waste his time waiting to be chosen.
"We went to the Empire State Building," he said. "We went to the very top where it's not even open to the public and, man, it's windy, cold up there. You're in the clouds and everything. It's scary looking down, but it's a fun time."