COLUMBIA — The final day of the NFL draft is usually an unwieldy exercise in television hosts mispronouncing players’ names (hey, you try spitting out “Senio Kelemete” without practicing) and viewers learning that Albion and Ashland are actual schools with real, live football teams.
But for every forgettable player who gets drafted in the fourth through seventh rounds, which were held Saturday, there are guys like Tom Brady, Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe and even Bart Starr — great NFL players who were picked in the late rounds.
Brady and Davis were picked in the sixth round — 199th and 196th overall. Sharpe went in the seventh, 192nd overall. Starr was a 17th-rounder, who also got drafted at No. 199.
So for all the absurdity, and forgettable players, on the final day of what is now a three-day draft, there are sometimes a few gems that emerge.
Seven players from South Carolina colleges drafted Saturday will be happy if they can turn their late-round selections into even half the careers that Brady, Davis, Sharpe and Starr did. If they can, all the waiting will have been well worth it.
Nobody waited longer than USC defensive tackle Travian Robertson, who was selected No. 249 of 253 picks by the Atlanta Falcons, just missing becoming the Gamecocks’ second Mr. Irrelevant in four years. And for late-round success stories, it’s worth noting that kicker Ryan Succop is by no means irrelevant, having carved out a respectable career with Kansas City, with a 81.2 field goal percentage.
USC’s Antonio Allen surely had the toughest wait. Allen played spur outside linebacker for the Gamecocks and led the nation’s No. 3 defense in tackles last season. He will play strong safety as a pro, and will do it for the New York Jets, who picked him 35th in the seventh round, No. 242 overall. Some draft analysts projected him to go in the fourth or fifth rounds.
The state of South Carolina’s other Day 3 representation was spread out evenly among five schools
Clemson cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, who is from Kingsport, Tenn., will return home, as the Tennessee Titans selected him in the fourth round. South Carolina State safety Christian Thompson went 15 picks after Sensabaugh, to the Baltimore Ravens.
In the fifth round, Coastal Carolina cornerback Josh Norman was picked by the Carolina Panthers, and USC offensive tackle Rokevious Watkins went to the St. Louis Rams. Watkins was projected to go in the sixth or seventh rounds.
The sixth round brought some history for Presbyterian, as safety Justin Bethel was picked by the Arizona Cardinals, making him the school’s first draft pick since 1969. Bethel is the ninth draft pick in Presbyterian history.