Four From CAA Football Selected in 2013 NFL Draft
RICHMOND, Va. – By the close of Saturday’s third and final day of the 2013 NFL Draft, four CAA Football players in William and Mary’s B.W. Webb, Richmond’s Cooper Taylor, James Madison’s Earl Watford and New Hampshire’s Jared Smith had heard their names called to play at the next level. The league’s four draft selections are the most since five conference standouts were taken in 2010.
One of the program’s most prolific cornerbacks, W&M’s Webb was selected in the fourth round by the Dallas Cowboys with the 114th overall pick. He becomes the Tribe’s fourth draft selection since 2009 and joins a group of seven former Tribe standouts currently on NFL rosters, including future teammate Sean Lissemore who was selected by the Cowboys in the seventh round in 2010.
Webb participated in the Senior Bowl and NFL Draft Combine earlier this spring after completing an outstanding collegiate career. As a senior, the Newport News, Va., native earned All-America honors from the Associated Press, The Sports Network and Phil Steele. Additionally, he was one of the most-decorated players in CAA Football history with nine postseason all-conference honors, highlighted by his selection as the 2012 Special Teams Player of the Year.
Selected to the Buchanan Award Watch List as a senior, Webb earned a school-record 48 starts and finished his career ranked among W&M's all-time top 10 in interceptions (11) and punt return yards (603). In his final year in Williamsburg, Webb totaled 46 tackles, eight pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and a tackle for a loss. Additionally, he averaged 11.2 yards per punt return while ranking third in the conference with 123 punt return yards.
JMU’s Watford quickly followed Webb on the Big Board, with the Arizona Cardinals selecting him in the fourth round as the 116th overall pick. He now becomes the first Duke drafted since the Buffalo Bills took Arthur Moats in 2010. Selected to participate in the NFL Combine earlier this winter, Watford is the program’s 14th draft selection and the third highest in school history.
The Dukes’ top-rated offensive lineman, Watford started all 11 games while also serving as a team captain. The Philadelphia native allowed just one sack on the season while, under extremely stringent linemen grading, grading out 80 percent or higher six times and 90 percent or better twice. Overall, he graded out at 85 percent for the season and had 25 knockdowns while leading an offense that ranked fourth in rushing offense in the league at 209.0 yards per game and 4.6 yards per rush. Watford played in 43 career contests, starting in 37 games that included 35 straight to close out his time in Harrisonburg.
Watford racked up a host of postseason honors this fall, earning top team All-America accolades from The Walter Camp Foundation, American Football Coaches Association, the Associated Press and The Sports Network. He was also an All-CAA Football First Team selection for the second consecutive season.
On the heels of a standout senior season that saw him earn consensus All-America honors, Richmond’s Taylor was selected in the fifth round by the New York Giants with the 152nd overall pick. Taylor is now the 49th Spider to be drafted since 1941 and the first since the Buffalo Bills took defensive back Justin Rogers in the seventh round in 2010.
After beginning his collegiate career at Georgia Tech and then joining the Spiders as a junior, Taylor had a breakout 2012 season, earning All-America honors from Phil Steele, the Associated Press, The Sports Network and the Walter Camp Foundation. The Atlanta native was also named an All-CAA Football First Team selection and The Touchdown Club of Richmond's Division I National Defensive Back of the Year.
As a senior, Taylor started all 10 games in which he appeared, totaling 78 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and four interceptions. Not only a standout on the playing field, he also excelled in the classroom and was named both a First-Team Capital One Academic All-American and CAA Football’s Scholar Athlete of the Year.
The Seattle Seahawks selected UNH’s Smith in Saturday’s seventh round with the 241st overall pick. The Greencastle, Pa., product becomes the 13th player in Wildcat history to be drafted and the first since defensive back Corey Graham went to the Chicago Bears as a fifth-round selection in 2007. A member of the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, Graham was the program’s lone active player on an NFL roster until Smith’s name was called on Saturday.
As a senior, Smith started 11 games and compiled 40 tackles, including 26 solo, with a team-leading 10 tackles for loss that ranked fifth among all conference players. The defensive tackle tied for the team lead with four sacks, forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble, collected four pass breakups and tallied a program-best three blocked kicks.
Smith closed out his collegiate career with All-America honors from The Sports Network. He was also an All-CAA Football First Team selection and tabbed to the All-New England Team this past season.
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