MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ As the NFL draft entered its third
hour, Lawrence Timmons wasn't sure how much more waiting he could
And then a Pittsburgh area code appeared on his phone.
``Finally,'' Timmons said.
The former Florida State linebacker was selected No. 15 overall
by the Steelers, who needed someone at that spot to replace Joey
Porter, who joined the Miami Dolphins earlier this offseason.
Timmons was the first player from the state's ``Big Three'' schools
_ FSU, Florida and Miami _ to be selected in the 2007 draft,
something he was particularly proud about.
``It was pretty big,'' said Timmons, a 6-foot-3, 232-pounder who
had 18 tackles for loss last season for the Seminoles. ``This is
the state of football right here. It means a lot. It means I'm
obviously doing something right.''
For the first time since 1996, no players from Florida, Miami or
Florida State were chosen in the top 10.
But reigning national champion Florida and Miami _ which
extended its streak of having a first-round pick to 13 straight
years, when safety Brandon Meriweather went No. 24 to New England _
didn't have much to complain about in the draft's first round,
The Gators, who hadn't had a first-round selection since Rex
Grossman went 22nd overall in 2003, saw defensive end Jarvis Moss
go No. 17 to Denver and safety Reggie Nelson get chosen by
Jacksonville at No. 21 _ marking the first time Florida produced a
pair of first-rounders in the same draft since 2001.
``We think there's a big upside there,'' Denver coach Mike
Shanahan said of Moss, a 6-foot-6, 251-pounder who had 15 sacks in
26 games with the Gators.
Moss was the first defensive lineman drafted by the Broncos
since 1997. And Nelson got to stay relatively close to home, again.
``I was just hoping they could take me,'' said Nelson, who grew
up in Melbourne, Fla., then played college football in Gainesville
and now heads to Jacksonville. ``I'm happy to be a Jaguar.''
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes extended their streak when Meriweather
went to the Patriots. Linebacker Jon Beason _ who skipped his final
year of eligibility at Miami _ went one pick later to Carolina,
which got insurance for linebacker Dan Morgan, another former
Hurricanes star who has missed 40 of 96 games in his career with
various injuries, including 15 last year with a concussion.
After Timmons' long wait ended and he went off the board, the
Sunshine State didn't wait long to see more players join him in the
Florida had two key parts of its national championship team
selected in the next six picks, with Moss headed to the Broncos _
who obtained that pick in a trade with Jacksonville. So the
Jaguars, who got the 21st selection in that deal, used it to take
Nelson, who was the ninth straight defensive player taken _ a run
that included Timmons' selection.
He knows that he'll be expected to be the guy who replaces
Porter, a longtime favorite in Pittsburgh. But Timmons said he's
choosing not to look at his new job in quite those terms.
``I'm just going to play the game I've always played, the one I
played at FSU,'' Timmons said. ``I'm not going to put any pressure
on myself. I'm going to do what got me here.''
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)