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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Draft Notes: Knowshon to Denver

The Philadelphia newspapers spent the past few days speculating about his imminent arrival. The bevy of New York Jets fans in attendance at Radio City Music Hall had their fingers crossed Knowshon Moreno might end up with their team. For their part, Moreno's family hoped he would land close to his New Jersey home, too.

As it turned out, they were all wrong, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Moreno was expected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick in Saturday's NFL draft. Instead, he was taken 12th overall by the Denver Broncos.

"You know, a lot of teams needed (running) backs, but I didn't know what was going to happen," Moreno said. "But once I got that call, got that idea and (head coach Josh McDaniels) told me about it, about that they were going to take me, I was so excited about the situation and to be a part of the team now."

Moreno follows in the footsteps of former Georgia running backs Olandis Gary, who had a 1,000-yard rushing season with the Broncos, and Terrell Davis, who won a Super Bowl MVP for Denver.

Denver's current running back situation is in flux after numerous injuries decimated the position a year ago.

Moreno said he think he can help in a multitude of areas, including in the passing game. More than anything, however, he said he'll bring energy to the Broncos' backfield.

"Really, I'm a high-motor guy," Moreno said. "Tough, hard-nosed, a hard runner, can make you miss at times. And just competitive. I love to play the game and I bring that energy to my team. So, we'll see how that goes."


Matthew Stafford hopes he can swing his status as the first player taken in the NFL draft into a starting job with the Detroit Lions next year, but his new general manager is taking more of a wait-and-see attitude.

"It's hard to say until he gets here and starts playing," Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew said. "It takes a while to learn how to play this game, so we'll see."

While no job will be guaranteed to Stafford, his new coach has been impressed by Stafford's leadership ability and thinks it will be a quick transition to life in the NFL.

"His style of leadership has come from a lot of different people," Jim Schwartz said. "He has a calming influence in the huddle. A guy that brings that kind of confidence, the players believe in him."


Georgia head coach Mark Richt said Saturday's first round of the NFL draft was clearly a big day for his program, showing off the Bulldogs' talent on one of the sport's biggest stages. But more than a ringing endorsement for Georgia, Richt said the selections of Stafford and Moreno in the first round was a credit to how good both players were with the Bulldogs.

Still, Richt said the program did help in one way: It gave both players a chance to shine.
Georgia's offense resembles a typical NFL style closer than most college teams, allowing the Lions to get a good view of how Stafford would handle a similar game plan at the next level. Similarly, Moreno was able to improve his blocking and become a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield, illustrating his versatility to NFL teams.

"We hope that we've been very beneficial for them in their quest for their dream," Richt said. "For us, it's very exciting, and we're just really proud of them."


A number of former Georgia players are expected to hear their names called in the second day of the draft today.

Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi led the Bulldogs in receptions last season, his fourth as a starter, and was the third Georgia player selected Saturday, going 50th overall to the Cleveland Browns.

Cornerback Asher Allen, who impressed scouts with his Pro Day workout in Athens, figures to land somewhere in the third or fourth round after leaving school a year early.

Fullback Brannan Southerland and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe both expect to chosen in the middle rounds of Sunday's draft as well.

Defensive tackle Corvey Irvin, safety CJ Byrd and defensive end Jarius Wynn could all be late-round selections.


Moreno was the first running back taken in the first round of Saturday's draft, but his good friend Donald Brown heard his name called as well.
Brown, who played Pee-Wee ball with Moreno in New Jersey, was taken with the 27th overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts.

The two kept in touch throughout the draft process, helping each other to keep level heads.

"We were on a visit together (with the Jets)," Moreno said. "We went to the hotel room and just kind of chilled out. We didn't talk about the whole process but, we kind of looked at each other like, this is kind of crazy, you know? But it's a great experience. Not many people get to do it, and it only comes once, so you've got to enjoy it while it's here."

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