Posted: 8:58 am Monday, April 27th, 2009

NFL draft relocates local talent 

By Jason Lieser

A few former area football players wound up with new homes after this weekend’s NFL draft, and more should follow soon.

Alphonso Smith, a Wake Forest cornerback who starred for the Pahokee Blue Devils, was the first local player chosen this year. The Denver Broncos took Smith in the second round, 37th overall, which might make him the highest selection Pahokee has ever produced. We’re still looking into that (there’s no simple way to know for sure), but the two names that came to mind that might have been picked earlier were Anquan Boldin (54th overall in ’03) and Rickey Jackson (51st overall in ’81).

Stanley Arnoux became the first Glades Day player ever chosen in the draft. Arnoux, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound linebacker out of Wake Forest, went to the New Orleans Saints at No. 118.

As part of the New York Jets’ surprising move to take USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, they dealt former Cardinal Newman standout Abram Elam to the Cleveland Browns. Elam, a safety, started 17 games (he played in 29 total) for the Jets over the past two seasons. His highlight last year was a 92-yard interception return for a touchdown. He won the Lou Groza Player of the Year award in 1999 while at Newman, and is the older brother to Dwyer star Matt Elam.

Several local players went undrafted: Palm Beach Gardens’ Emanuel Cook (South Carolina), as well as Pahokee’s Antone Smith (Florida State) and D.J. Boldin (Wake Forest), and Glades Central’s Rashaad Duncan (Pittsburgh).

Imagine how Cook, who thought enough of himself to leave school a year early, must have felt seeing that even the South Carolina kicker got drafted. Off-field issues prevented Cook from being picked, but he signed with the New York Jets on Monday.

Smith talked with many teams leading up to the draft and it’s a good bet his speed will land him on somebody’s roster for training camp.

D.J. Boldin, Anquan’s younger brother, signed with the Lions after going undrafted out of Wake Forest. Duncan, a defensive tackle, signed with Tampa Bay.

If I’m missing any other local players, let me know and I’ll look into it.