Saturday, May 10, 2014

UConn's Smallwood taken by Atlanta with 253rd pick

Yawin Smallwood got comfortable in his home in Worcester to watch the NFL Draft beginning with Thursday's first round.

UConn's leading tackler in each of the last two seasons, Smallwood boldly declared that he considered himself to be the best linebacker in the draft. If one of the NFL teams agreed with him, perhaps he would join Donald Brown as the only UConn player to be taken in the first round. He watch the second and third rounds and nearly every pick on Saturday when the final four rounds took place.

Finally, his wait ended when Atlanta took Smallwood with the 253rd overall pick late in the seventh round.

"Once it got to the second round I was waiting for my name to be called. In the third round I was still waiting, fourth, fifth, sixth and I still didn’t see my name getting called," Smallwood said. "I kept seeing players I thought I was better than. I was (wondering) whether I was going to get drafted. I started getting calls from teams talking about free agency. I was a little disappointed and I got that call from Atlanta, they told me they loved the type of player I am and they were going to draft me. It felt great, it was a great moment."

Last year undrafted rookie free agent Paul Worrilow ended up being the leading tackler for the Atlanta Falcons. With the Falcons taking former UConn star Yawin Smallwood late in the seventh round, could history be repeated?

"I am going to do what I have always done, work hard and make plays," Smallwood said. "At UConn I produced and every single year I got better."

Smallwood led UConn with 118 tackles and four sacks during the 2013 season. He finished with 332 tackles in his three years with the Huskies with 27 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and five forced fumbles



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