Three Boilermakers heard their names called in this weekend's NFL draft.
It started with tight end Dustin Keller, who became Purdue's second first-round pick in as many years - the first time that's happened since the mid-'80s - after being picked 30th overall by the New York Jets, who traded up to get him.
Keller, who watched the draft with friends and family from the Ross-Ade Pavilion, received a phone call from Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Eric Mangini shortly before seeing his name announced. New York, which Keller had visited while touring several NFL franchises during the last couple weeks, moved up six spots to draft the tight end, trading its second-round pick (No. 36 overall), plus a fourth-round selection (No. 113), to Green Bay.
"I knew how much they liked me," Keller said. "They had shown a lot of interest."
Next up was defensive end Cliff Avril, drafted in the third round - 92nd overall - by the Detroit Lions, meaning his pro career will begin at the site where his college career ended, that being Ford Field.
Though he was also courted by some NFL teams to play outside linebacker, Avril said the Lions want him as a pass-rushing D-end in their 4-3 scheme.
Avril was taken with the 92nd pick.
"You always feel like you could have gone higher," Avril said. "But it's a blessing to be a part of the whole NFL process, to get drafted. So many kids in high school and college dream about it and to be one of the few who actually get to do it, I'm happy that I got drafted period."
Wide receiver Dorien Bryant went undrafted, though some projections had him as a mid-round draft pick. He's reportedly been picked up as an undrafted free agent by Pittsburgh.
Offensive lineman Robbie Powell, who started one season at guard then the past two at center for Purdue, wasn't drafted, either.
But the Cleveland Browns wasted no time snapping him up, signing him to a free-agent contract within an hour or two of the two-day draft's conclusion.
"It was a huge relief," Powell said. "Sometimes it's a better situation to go as a free agent (instead of being drafted). You have a little bit of a choice.
"It seems like a good situation. They didn't take any linemen in the draft, but I'm sure they'll scoop up a couple more. I think it's a really good situation and I'll have a good shot at making the squad.
"I'm just really excited. It's been a heck of a ride, a heck of a process. Now, I've gotta go make a team."
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