Former Boise State players Kamalei Correa, Darian Thompson and Rees Odhiambo no doubt have the talent to contribute in the NFL, and the teams that drafted them Friday have needs they can fill right away.
Correa, who will play outside linebacker, was taken in the second round by the Baltimore Ravens, and Thompson, a safety, was selected in the third round by the New York Giants. They were the first two Mountain West players drafted.
The Seattle Seahawks capped the night by making a surprise pick in Odhiambo, an offensive lineman projected to be a third-day selection by most draft experts. He went with the second to last pick of the third round.
Boise State produced three top-100 picks for the second time in one draft (the last time in 2012).
Correa is a pass-rush extraordinaire who will be counted on as a young presence off the edge of a defense that includes veteran end Elvis Dumervil and linebacker Terrell Suggs, who are 32 and 33 years old, respectively.
“I’ve been watching those guys since I’ve been in middle school, and I just can’t tell you how excited I am to work with them,” Correa said on a teleconference with Baltimore reporters. “It’s just an overwhelming experience, and I’m at a loss for words right now.”
In his last two seasons at Boise State, Correa had 19 sacks, opting to skip his senior season. It was a wise decision: He was the 11th pick of the second round. The player taken in that slot in 2015, Houston linebacker Benardrick McKinney, signed a four-year, $5.435 million contract.
“They picked a guy who’s a hard worker, isn’t going to stop, is dedicated and who is going to help them win a Super Bowl,” Correa said.
Primarily an end who also lined up as a stand-up linebacker at Boise State, Correa will play linebacker in the the NFL, and his best fit was widely seen as a team that uses a base defense with three linemen and four linebackers. The Ravens run the 3-4, and their 37 sacks were tied for 17th last season.
“He will fit what Baltimore does,” NFL.com’s Mike Mayock said. “He will set the edge physically and violently. ... He’s relentless.”
Thompson should be an immediate help for the Giants, who finished last in the NFL with 420 yards allowed per game and had three interceptions from their safeties. Thompson’s 19 career interceptions are No. 1 in Mountain West history.
“Darian Thompson is a good, smart player from a great program,” Giants first-year coach Ben McAdoo said. “Darian can tackle in the open field and can play in a variety of different looks.”
The Giants drafted a safety, Landon Collins, in the second round last year, but the spot opposite Collins is vacant after the Giants released two veterans after last season. Thompson, who will compete with a handful of other young safeties, is the seventh Boise State defensive back selected in the past 10 drafts. Last year’s eighth pick of the third round, Rams offensive tackle Jamon Brown, signed for four years and $3.24 million.
“I’m extremely blessed to be there,” Thompson said. “When I get in there, I’ll have my best foot forward and just continue to work. I believe I have a great work ethic and nothing’s going to change from that, so whatever happens when I get there, it just happens. I’m excited. I’m going to give it all I have and see what happens when I get out there.”
The Seahawks pulled the trigger on the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Odhiambo. A tackle at Boise State, he’ll be a guard in Seattle. At Boise State’s pro day workouts March 31, Seahawks offensive line coach (and former Idaho head coach) Tom Cable ran the offensive line drills.
Odhiambo did not play a full season at Boise State, missing the final five games last season with a broken ankle. He was in Seattle already Friday, watching the draft with former Boise State center Marcus Henry, a Seattle native. But when the call came, he wasn’t watching.
He was making dinner. Pot roast and vegetables.
“Seattle has been my second home, and now I get to live here, play here and live out my dream,” Odhiambo said.
The Seahawks needed offensive line help after allowing 46 sacks last season, tied for sixth-most in the NFL, and two starters departed in the offseason. They drafted Texas A&M tackle Germain Ifedi in the first round.
On Monday, Odhiambo said he thought he would go in the second half of the draft, saying: “Teams know I can play, but I know the health concerns will drop me far below my value.”
Perhaps he went right where he was valued. Last year’s 35th pick of the third round, Bengals linebacker Paul Dawson, signed a four-year, $2.952 million deal.
“The feeling is unbelievable,’’ Odhiambo said. “So surreal.’’
Top 10 Boise State NFL Draft picks
DOLPHINS DRAFT COMPETITION FOR TAYLOR, AJAYI
Early in the second round, the Miami Dolphins traded up from No. 42 four spots to draft Baylor cornerback Xavien Howard on Friday night. He will immediately vie for playing time with former Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor, who played in 12 games last season for Miami. The Dolphins also took Alabama running back Kenyan Drake in the third round, 73rd overall. Former Boise State running back Jay Ajayi is currently slated to be the Dolphins’ top back.
COWBOYS MAY NOT DRAFT QB OR SEEK VETERAN
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday night the team hasn’t ruled out drafting a quarterback in the final four rounds and said it isn’t bound to sign a veteran, either. That could be good news for former Boise State great Kellen Moore, who started the final two games last season with starter Tony Romo injured. Jones said he “feels comfortable” with Moore as the backup.
MORE BRONCOS COULD GO SATURDAY
Former Boise State center Marcus Henry, who is in Seattle this weekend with former teammate Rees Odhiambo, could be a late-round selection or priority free agent. Henry visited the Seahawks and had private workouts with other teams in Boise, he said.
Rounds 3-7 start at 10 a.m. (ESPN and NFL Network).
NFL.com’s Gil Brandt had high praise for Henry after the Broncos’ pro day workouts last month in Boise. “To me, he’s an exact replica of (former Boise State and Council High player) Matt Paradis of the Denver Broncos. He’s worth a late-round pick,” Brandt said.
Former Boise State cornerback Donte Deayon, who was measured at 5-foot-8, 158 pounds at pro day, is seen by some as too small to be selected, but ESPN Draft guru Mel Kiper rates him the No. 196 prospect. “I think he’s got a chance to be a nice sixth- or seventh-round pick,” Kiper said.
Additional Boise State players on the NFL radar as potential free agents include linebacker Tyler Gray, tight end Holden Huff, defensive end/tight end Tyler Horn and receiver/returner Shane Williams-Rhodes.
Boise State picks in past 10 drafts
Kamalei Correa, DE/LB, 2nd round (42nd overall), Ravens*
Darian Thompson, S, 3rd round (71st overall), Giants
Rees Odhiambo, OL, 3rd round (97th overall), Seahawks
Jay Ajayi, RB, 5th round (149th overall), Dolphins*
DeMarcus Lawrence, DE, 2nd round (34th), Cowboys*
Matt Paradis, C, 6th round (207th), Broncos
Charles Leno Jr., OL, 7th round (246th), Bears
Jamar Taylor, CB, 2nd round (54th), Dolphins
Shea McClellin, DE/LB, 1st round (19th), Bears
Doug Martin, RB, 1st round (31st), Buccaneers
Tyrone Crawford, DE, 3rd round (81st), Cowboys
George Iloka, S, 5th round (167th), Bengals
Billy Winn, DT, 6th round (205th), Browns
Nate Potter, OL, 7th round (221st), Cardinals
Titus Young, WR, 2nd round (44th), Lions
Austin Pettis, WR, 3rd round (78th), Rams
Brandyn Thompson, CB, 7th round (213th), Redskins
Kyle Wilson, CB, 1st round (29th), Jets
Ryan Clady, OT, 1st round (12th), Broncos*
Orlando Scandrick, CB, 5th round (143rd), Cowboys*
Gerald Alexander, S, 2nd round (61st), Lions
Legedu Naanee, WR, 5th round (172nd), Chargers
Korey Hall, FB, 6th round (191st), Packers
Derek Schouman, TE, 7th round (222nd), Bills