Six former Oregon State players are taken on the second day of NFL Draft
By Cliff Kirkpatrick
Six Oregon State football players were selected on the second day of the NFL Draft Sunday.
The Beavers had seven of the 256 players picked during the seven-round draft, including offensive lineman Andy Levitre, who was taken by the Buffalo Bills in the second round Saturday.
Seven is the most OSU players ever drafted, breaking the old record of six done in 1967 and 1947.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round with the 96th overall pick. He was the 15th cornerback chosen.
Linebacker Victor Butler followed in the fourth round to the Dallas Cowboys with the 110th pick. Linebacker Slade Norris was a surprise selection in the fourth round, going to the Oakland Raiders with the 126th pick.
Both Butler and Norris were defensive ends with the Beavers, but are expected to be linebackers at least part of the time in the NFL.
Cornerback Brandon Hughes went to the San Diego Chargers in the fifth round with the 148th pick. Safety Al Afalava was picked 190th by the Chicago Bears in the sixth round.
Wide receiver Sammie Stroughter was drafted in the seventh round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 233rd overall selection.
"It's a blessing to have an opportunity to play for one of the top teams, the Super Bowl champs," Lewis said. "I like the team, the defense is like Oregon State's. They get after it. They feel I can come in and compete for playing time."
Lewis was picked for his impressive size at his position: 6 feet and 208 pounds. He has experience with 48 starts for the Beavers and knows how to play man defense and be aggressive.
He showed well during the Senior Bowl and OSU's Pro Day to improve his stock.
"I've been hoping to have this opportunity for so long," Lewis said. "I've had good coaches like coach (Mike) Riley and (Mark) Banker, who have told me to keep fighting. They told me I'm special. I'm so proud I can't explain it."
Butler was about to go for a mountain run during the draft to ease his anxiety when he got the call. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was on the other end.
"I had to stop myself from crying and screaming," Butler said. "So many great players have gone through there; it motivates me to be better."
The Cowboys want Butler to play both defensive end and linebacker, using his speedy 6-2, 248-pound frame. He's pumped for the challenge and doesn't care where they place him on the field. His ability also makes him a top special teams candidate.
After getting the news, Butler still went for the run.
"Nobody else will work out on draft day," Butler said. "That puts me one step ahead of everybody else."
Norris hoped to be a sixth or seventh round pick, but would have accepted a free agent opportunity. So going in the fourth round was a pleasant shock.
The Raiders were his first call of the day, and he thought it was a team trying to gauge his interest in free agency or to say they were only interested in him as a late pick.
"I can't describe the feeling," Norris said. "I wasn't sure where I would get drafted. I'm excited to be a Raider. I can't wait to get there and start playing. This is the best thing that ever happened to me."
Norris is similar to Butler; he'll play both defensive end and linebacker. The main thing is whether the 6-2, 232-pounder can get to the quarterback quickly.
He visited the Raiders in the past month and both sides were impressed. Special teams is where he starts, but he has the opportunity for more.
Hughes is an aggressive cornerback like Lewis, but is being projected as a possible nickel back for the Chargers. He improved his draft standing with standout numbers at the NFL Combine.
Afalava is a hard-hitting safety who gives the Bears depth, but can excel on special teams. Stroughter can make the Bucs being a good possession receiver and return man.
"It was a great day," said Carter Chow, the agent for Hughes and Stroughter. "They are going to teams where their skill sets will compliment the teams. I think they have the opportunity to contribute right away."
Former OSU cornerback Coye Francis was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round, right after Afalava. Francis was a junior college transfer who played for the Beavers in 2006 before transferring to San Jose State.
Three Oregon Ducks were drafted on the second day to bring their draft total to six.
Offensive tackle Fenuki Tupou went in the fifth round to the Philadelphia Eagles, defensive tackle Ra'Shon Harris was picked by the Steelers in the sixth round and defensive end Nick Reed was a seventh-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks.