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NFL DRAFT ROUNDUP: Falcons pick Wisconsin OL Konz

Peter Konz

Peter Konz

FLOWERY BRANCH — Peter Konz wasn’t expecting a call from the Falcons on Friday. He said he hadn’t heard from the team before the NFL draft.

Konz, the Wisconsin center who may play guard in Atlanta, said it was a surprise when he was picked by the Falcons in the second round. He said he was told by his agent, Joe Flanagan, the Falcons are “one of those teams that won’t talk to you through the whole process but will pick you.”

“That’s kind of what happened,” Konz said in a telephone interview. “It was a surprise, but it was a great surprise.”

Atlanta made Konz (6-5, 314) the 55th overall pick and the team’s first selection.

The Falcons continued to work on improving their offensive line when they selected tackle Lamar Holmes from Southern Miss in the third round.

Holmes (6-5, 323) played two years at Southern Miss and was a first-team All-Conference USA selection by the league’s coaches in 2011. He transferred to Southern Miss from Itawamba Community College.

The Falcons moved down seven spots in the third round in a trade with Baltimore. Atlanta added the 29th pick of the fifth round, No. 164 overall, in the trade.

The Falcons announced Konz as a guard. He said he played only center at Wisconsin, while starting 31 of his 32 games, but also practiced at tackle and guard.

If he plays center, Konz could be an eventual replacement for Todd McClure, who is 35 and entering his 14th season. Joe Hawley moved from guard to start three games center last season when McClure was injured.

Hawley, Justin Blalock, Garrett Reynolds and Kirk Chambers are Atlanta’s top returning guards.

Konz said he had not been told what position he will play in Atlanta.

“I’ll do anything,” Konz said. “At Wisconsin they made sure I knew tackle, guard and center. Anywhere I can help the team, that’s my responsibility.”

Konz was projected as a possible first-round pick.

“Just getting the opportunity is amazing,” Konz said. “It doesn’t matter where I fell to because I love the team that picked me. I have nothing but great respect for the organization. Now I get to help be part of a winning tradition.”

Konz was the first of the Falcons’ five draft picks. The team traded a seventh-round selection to the Eagles for Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel on Wednesday.

The Falcons traded this year’s first-round pick to select receiver Julio Jones in the first round last year.


Buffalo Bills draft Georgia's OL Cordy Glenn with 41st pick

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bills turned their attention to addressing offensive needs in a big way by selecting mammoth Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday.

Picked 41st overall, the 6-foot-5, 348-pound player spent most of his first three seasons at guard before making the switch to tackle as a senior. And that’s where the Bills project him to compete for a starting job after losing Demetress Bell to free agency.

In four seasons, Glenn had 50 starts, including 18 at left tackle, in 53 career games.

Though some scouts project Glenn to be best suited to play guard at the NFL level, he worked at left tackle at this past year’s Senior Bowl.

The Bills, coming off a 6-10 season, have eight picks left, including a third-rounder, 71st overall.

Buffalo opened the draft Thursday by selecting South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore with the 10th pick. The Bills also spent last month improving their pass rush by signing defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in free agency.

The focus now turned to improving the offensive line, which was regarded as a key need for the team.

Prior to the draft, there was speculation that the Bills were so interested in Glenn that they would consider taking him in the first round. The wait proved worth it.

Glenn was part of a Bulldogs offense that averaged 244.5 yards passing and 408.5 yards offense last season. For his career, he was credited with registering 63 blocks that resulted in touchdowns.

Despite his big size, Glenn is both quick and agile. He also has a long reach, which is something the Bills front office previously said it prefers in left tackles because of their ability to push pass rushers further outside and away from the pocket.

The Bills were among the least-sacked teams in allowing just 22 last season. But they entered this draft with only three tackles on their roster. That included Chris Hairston, a fourth-round pick last year, who had seven starts at left tackle last season.

Despite losing eight of their final nine games and missing the playoffs for a 12th straight season, the Bills offense showed considerable signs of progress last year. Buffalo finished with 5,624 yards offense, the first time they broke 5,000 in nine years, and the most since 1992.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had an up-and-down season, with his drop in production coinciding with a heavy hit to the chest he took in a 23-0 win over Washington on Oct. 30. Despite finishing with 24 touchdowns and 23 interceptions (16 in the final nine games), his TD total and 3,832 yards passing were the most by a Bills player since Drew Bledsoe in 2002.

And that rise in production came despite an offense that opened the season with what was essentially a no-name group of receivers after Buffalo traded Lee Evans to Baltimore in August.


Jets trade up to take Georgia Tech WR Hill

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets jumped up and grabbed Stephen Hill, giving their offense a big and speedy wide receiver.

The Jets slid four spots to No. 43 overall in the second round Friday by trading the 47th pick, plus their fifth-rounder and a seventh-rounder, No. 232 overall, to the Seattle Seahawks to get the playmaking Georgia Tech star.

“Oh, man, I was happy,” Hill said during a conference call. “We had a lot of conversations and I feel really home there.”

Hill could immediately step in as a starter opposite Santonio Holmes, filling one of New York’s biggest needs entering the draft. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Hill will give quarterback Mark Sanchez a target who can get down the field in a flash. He had 28 catches for 820 yards — averaging more than 29 yards a catch — and five touchdowns last season for the Yellow Jackets while playing in a triple-option offense.

Despite coach Rex Ryan and new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano saying they want to be a run-first offense, the Jets still needed someone to complement Holmes. New York also has Chaz Schilens, signed as a free agent; Jeremy Kerley, a fifth-round pick last year; and Patrick Turner, who saw limited action last season. Plaxico Burress, who served as the team’s primary goal-line threat last season, is a free agent and unlikely to be re-signed after one season with the Jets.

“I feel great, especially now that I’m in an offense where I can catch the ball a little bit more,” Hill said. “Catching the ball from Mark Sanchez will be great. I’m going to make sure I get with him as soon as possible.”

New York took North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples with its first-round pick at No. 16 overall, giving the Jets the pass rusher they coveted. Fans at the draft site at Radio City Music Hall cheered the selection of Hill, who was there — after not being picked Thursday night — and gave a big “J-E-T-S!” cheer.

“It was definitely a long day of waiting,” said Hill, whose name was announced by former Jets Pro Bowl receiver Wesley Walker. “Wherever I was picked, I was going to be happy to go to that team, but now I’m glad that I’m with the Jets. When I heard that the Jets had traded, I really didn’t have any idea until that phone started ringing.

“And I just got so happy, I didn’t even answer the phone on the first ring.”

Hill thinks it will be a “big transition” going from a triple-option offense to the pros, but nothing more than any other rookie coming in from college.

“I’m ready to go, and I’m ready to learn,” he said. “I’m a quick learner, so I’m ready to see how things are going to fall out.”

Hill has lots of big-play ability, and has been often compared to Denver’s Demaryius Thomas — a guy who became a favorite of Tim Tebow, now the Jets’ backup quarterback behind Sanchez. He had just 49 career catches in three seasons at Georgia Tech, but he set the NCAA record by averaging 55.2 yards on his nine touchdown grabs. Hill also averaged 64 yards for his five TD catches last season, topping the single-season NCAA mark of 56.09 yards by Houston’s Elmo Wright in 1968.

He ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in February, flashing the speed he says is “routine.”

“I definitely have a lot to prove,” Hill said. “People didn’t even think I was going to run that fast, so I definitely had to show them I could run that fast.”

Despite the blazing speed, he’s also a nice fit in the Jets’ run-first offense because of his terrific ability to block.

“I can definitely put somebody on their butt,” he said. “They liked my physicality a lot. They just want me to transfer that, of course, to getting off jams and making sure the corner doesn’t cover me as well.”

The Jets showed great interest in Hill early in the draft process, going to his pro day and setting up a formal meeting with him. Hill also had a private workout with the Jets and visited the team’s facility.

“Whatever they bring to the table, I’m going to come in and fit in wherever I fit in,” he said.

Hill wasn’t tripped up when asked if he’s also looking forward to catching passes from Tebow, acquired from the Jets last month. Tebow is expected to fill several roles in New York’s offense.

“Both are great athletes,” Hill said of Tebow and Sanchez. “They’re both winners and I’m ready to just go.”