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April 27, 2008

Bulldog quartet picked

It took well into the second day of the NFL Draft, but Georgia's Marcus Howard and Thomas Brown, Chester Adams and Brandon Coutu now know where their pro football homes will be.

Howard was selected in the fifth round with the 161st pick by the Indianapolis Colts, before the Atlanta Falcons scooped up Brown in round six with the 172nd selection. Later in the seventh round, Adams was selected by the Chicago Bears while Cotou was taken shortly thereafter by the Seattle Seahawks

"Howard fits perfectly in the Colts defensive scheme. They are likely to leave the under-sized pass rusher at defensive end and slot him behind Robert Mathis," Rivals.com wrote on Howard in their Draft Tracker. "This kid terrorized the entire Hawaii offensive unit in the Sugar Bowl, winning Defensive MVP in the process."

Howard led the Bulldogs with 10 sacks last fall.

Brown, despite a shoulder injury which cost him three games last fall, rushed for 706 yards and nine touchdowns.

Mel Kiper Jr. said during ESPN's Draft Special that Brown "was productive when he had his opportunities at Georgia, but will have to play a complimentary role behind Michael Turner in Atlanta."

That would suit Brown just fine.

"I think it's a good position for me," Brown said. "Most teams have four or five running backs, but I come from a system at Georgia where I'm used to compete with a number of guys. I'm just excited to play with Michael Turner and Jarius Norwood and contribute in any way I can to this team."

Brown finished his career at Georgia with 2,646 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns on 529 carries. He also had 39 pass receptions for 372 yards and two TD's.

A graduate of Tucker High, Brown played in 40 games during his four-year career including 27 starts. His best game came against Ole Miss in 2007 when he rushed for 180 yards.

He is the third Bulldog drafted by the Falcons in the last three years. Quarterback D.J. Shockley was selected in the seventh round in 2006 and tight end Martrez Milner was chosen in the fourth round last year.

In the end, Howard made a lot of sense for the Indianapolis Colts who selected the Georgia defensive end in the fifth round with the 161st selection Sunday in the NFL draft. The Colts were rumored to be one of the teams interested in the Bulldogs' 2007 sack leader.

Indianapolis defensive coaches have long preferred the smaller, faster defensive ends, ala All-Pro Dwight Freeney.

If defensive end doesn't work out, Howard (6-1, 237), could still get a look at outside linebacker, a position he played in high school and early during his career at Georgia before being moved to defensive end.

"I think it's a great fit for me, the type of player I am," Howard said in a conference call with Indianapolis reporters. "I think I'll be able to help the Colts rush the passer," Howard said. "They have a couple of guys just like me, probably just a tad bit bigger. I think I'm going to come in, help them rush the passer and help them on special teams." Howard said he was already familiar with the Colts and style system they employ.

"Just watching those guys play the past three or four years, I've seen the defensive ends that they use. It's pretty much the same Tampa 2 (defense) we got here at UGA. I think I'm going to come in and help the team out."

Adams, the 222nd overall pick, made 23 starts in his Georgia career and was part of the offensive line that allowed only 17 sacks in 2006, ranking second best in the SEC. He was named to the All-SEC Freshman team in 2004. He is the first Georgia player to be drafted by the Bears since kicker Kevin Butler was selected in the fourth round in 1985.

Coutu, the 235th overall selection, made 53-of-66 field goal attempts in his Georgia career including a career-long 58-yarder against Louisiana-Monroe in 2005. He made 114 consecutive PATs in his career with no misses and was elected by teammates as the permanent special teams captain in 2007.

Coutu had worked out for the Seahawks in Athens last month.

"I had a feeling they (were going to draft me), but I didn't think it would be this late," Coutu told Seahawks.com. "It was a little surprising. I'm excited because they showed as much interest as anybody, they have the best facilities and one of the best fan bases.

After the draft, several former Bulldogs signed free agent contracts, including safety Kelin Johnson with the Seattle Seahawks, running back Kregg Lumpkin with the Green Bay Packers, wide receiver Sean Bailey with the Kansas City Chiefs, offensive lineman Fernando Velasco with the Tennessee Titans and defensive end Brandon Miller who signed with the Atlanta Falcons.

It was the slowest start in the draft for the Bulldogs since 2000 when all three of their players Orantes Grant, Jeff Harris and Patrick Pass were taken in the seventh round.



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