Monday, April 30, 2012

Nate Ebner drafted by New England Patriots

April 28, 2012

By Doug Lesmerises, The Plain Dealer

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former Ohio State linebacker Andrew Sweat stopped being a Pittsburgh Steelers fan shortly after the NFL Draft ended Saturday. The native of western Pennsylvania signed with the Browns, as did former Ohio State right tackle J.B. Shugarts.

"They gave me an opportunity," Sweat told The Plain Dealer. "They're my new favorite team."

Those signings came after four Buckeyes were taken in the draft, with running back Dan Herron (No. 191 to Cincinnati) and special teams ace Nate Ebner (No. 197 to New England) going in Saturday's sixth round. Offensive tackle Mike Adams (second round to Pittsburgh) and receiver DeVier Posey (third round to Houston) were drafted Friday.

Center Mike Brewster, projected as a mid-round pick by most analysts, wasn't drafted but signed a free agent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Sweat, who can play any linebacker position, has been accepted to several law schools but is taking another shot at football, hoping to show the kind of player he is after his senior season was sidetracked by a concussion and an elbow injury.

"I really think that I haven't shown that," Sweat said. "I was hurt my whole senior year. We'll see. I'll let my actions speak for themselves and go out and play."

Herron went to Cincinnati as the first Buckeye drafted by the Bengals since 1994, when Cincinnati made defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson the No. 1 pick. He should have a chance to serve as a running back complement to free agent signee BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

"He has a chance to make the team by being a runner, playing on special teams, a receiver, and so forth," head coach Marvin Lewis said at a post-draft news conference.

Both Herron and Ebner were helped by strong showings at Ohio State's pro day, with Ebner impressing the Patriots with his special teams capabilities after not playing high school football and walking on at OSU. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told New England reporters that his connection to his former player, and OSU assistant, Mike Vrabel helped with Ebner.

"Nate is a guy who's a big, fast safety ... very productive in the kicking game," Belichick told Patriots Football Weekly. "Relatively inexperienced player. We think he has a lot of good football in front of him."

Ebner's selection was something of a surprise, but he'd drawn serious interest and told The Plain Dealer this week he knew there was a chance he'd be picked.

The biggest surprise of the draft for Ohio State was that Brewster wasn't selected. An Orlando native, Brewster left Florida, started at center for Ohio State for four seasons, was projected by most analysts as a mid-round pick and then never heard his name called and wound up returning to his home state.

"People feel bad for me, but they shouldn't," Brewster said after he wasn't one of the five centers drafted. "My whole life I've had a chip on my shoulder and my record speaks for itself. I find a way to make things work and I'd rather be in Jacksonville in Florida than be a second-round pick somewhere I wouldn't be happy. Time to get to work and help the Jags win more games."

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