Vanderbilt cornerback Myron Lewis won't need to travel too far to begin his NFL career as the North Lauderdale, Florida resident was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the league's annual draft on Friday night.
Chosen 67th overall, Lewis was a consensus All-SEC selection following his season season in 2009, registering 41 total tackles, picking off four passes and eight pass breakups.
As a junior, the former Pompano Beach High standout helped lead the Commodores to the program's first winning season since 1982 and first bowl win since 1955, racking up 76 total tackles with seven tackles for loss, five sacks, five interceptions and six pass breakups along the way.
Lewis made perhaps the two biggest plays in recent Vanderbilt history that season, picking off Auburn quarterback to seal a 14-13 win over the then 13th ranked Tigers and give the Commodores a 5-0 start for the first time in 75 years. A few months later, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound defender picked off Boston College quarterback Dominique Davis in the closing seconds of the Music City Bowl to seal a 16-13 victory.
A four-year letterwinner, Lewis started 36 straight games in his before a shoulder injury against Kentucky cost him to miss the 2009 finale against Tennessee. The injury was sustained after Lewis made a diving interception deep in the Wildcats own territory.
Lewis finished his Commodore career with 10 interceptions, 26 pass breakups, 170 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Projected by some draft websites and analysts to go in the fifth round of the draft, Lewis saw his stock rise after an impressive performance at the NFL Combine in February. Measuring with an impressive 34 inch reach and nine and 5/8ths hands, Lewis posted a sub 4.5 in the forty yard dash and finished among the top defensive backs in the broad jump. He had already impressed scouts during his college career with his ball skill and above average tackling ability as a defensive back.
This marks the third straight year a Commodore has gone in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft. Offensive tackle Chris Williams and receiver Earl Bennett were taken in the first and third rounds by the Chicago Bears in 2008. Cornerback D.J. Moore was selected by the Bears in the 2009 draft. 2005 SEC Offensive Player of the Year Jay Cutler was also taken in the first round of the 2006 draft.
He becomes the highest Commodore defensive back taken in the NFL draft since Fred Vinson was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the second round of the 1999 draft.
The Buccaneers selected Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy with the 3rd overall pick of the draft on Thursday. The National Football Conference Southern Division team also selected UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price with the 35th overall pick and Illinois playmaking receiver Arrelious Benn with the 39th overall pick in the second round.
Vanderbilt offensive tackle Thomas Welch and former All-SEC safety Ryan Hamilton are still possibilities for the 2010 NFL Draft as well.