by Tom Luicci
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (May 7, 2014) -- Two questions loom over Rutgers football as the NFL Draft gets underway on Thursday.
What round will wide receiver Brandon Coleman be selected in?
And how many of his teammates will join him in hearing their names called at pro football’s annual talent grab?
As knotty as the first question is – Coleman has been projected by draft experts to go anywhere from the second round on – the second one is even trickier to answer. Last year’s draft was proof of that when a school-record seven Scarlet Knights, some unexpectedly, wound up getting selected.
Rutgers, which has had at least one player drafted in six of the past seven years, has as many as nine players who could be intriguing draft prospects for teams when the three-day event starts at 8 p.m. Thursday at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Free safety Jeremy Deering, defensive end Marcus Thompson, offensive lineman Antwan Lowery, linebacker Jamal Merrell and wide receiver Quron Pratt loom as the most draft eligible Scarlet Knights after Coleman.
But as the San Francisco 49ers reminded by taking cornerback Marcus Cooper in a seventh round surprise last year, all it takes is one team to see something they like in a player. That gives some draft hope to offensive lineman Andre Civil, cornerback Lew Toler, defensive tackle Isaac Holmes and defensive end Jamil Merrell.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Coleman would join some select company in school history if he makes it into the second round. Rutgers has produced three first-round picks (Anthony Davis and Devin McCourty in 2010 and Kenny Britt in 2009) and six second-round picks. The most recent of the latter was Ray Rice in 2008.
Overall, Rutgers has had 54 players drafted in its history – 21 since the 2007 draft.
The highlight was last year’s bumper crop that saw Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon, Khaseem Greene, D.C. Jefferson, Jawan Jamison, Steve Beauharnais and Cooper selected.