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K-State’s Tavon Rooks drafted by the Saints in the sixth round

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, May 10, 2014, at 4:45 p.m.

Kansas State has produced an NFL Draft pick in 21 consecutive seasons -- a streak that is now the longest in the Big 12.

Tavon Rooks kept the streak alive on Saturday when the New Orleans Saints selected the former Wildcats right tackle in the sixth round. He was the 202nd overall pick. That pushed K-State past Texas for the longest active draft streak in the conference. For the first time since 1937, the Longhorns failed to produce a NFL Draft pick.

Rooks, a 6-foot-5, 280-pound offensive lineman started for the Wildcats as a junior and senior after transferring into the program from Navarro Junior College. He was a capable blocker on the right side of K-State’s line, twice earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors.

New Orleans coach Sean Payton thinks Rooks will bring athleticism and depth to the Saints’ offensive line.

“When you watch him he is very athletic, so he can move his feet,” Payton told reporters in a draft news conference. “I think there is growth potential when you look at him, growth potential with regards to the weight room. I liked the way he moved around.”

Rooks was selected higher than projections. Most experts labeled him as a possible seventh-round choice, with some expecting him to go undrafted. Rooks, apparently, bought into that thinking, too. When Payton called to inform him he was about to be picked, Rooks said he thought it was a prank.

"It was a wonderful feeling man,” Rooks told reporters in a post draft teleconference. “ I didn't know if I was going to get drafted. You know, coming in I thought, everybody was talking to me about being an undrafted free agent. So, I mean, God is good man.”

Former K-State left tackle Cornelius Lucas and former K-State safety Ty Zimmerman were also considered draft hopefuls, but ended up signing with teams as undrafted free agents.

Lucas said he agreed to terms with the Detroit Lions, while Zimmerman said he signed with the New Orleans Saints.

“I am definitely excited to have the opportunity,” Zimmerman said.

Wide receiver Tramaine Thompson said on his Twitter account that he signed a free agent deal the the Atlanta Falcons.

Pair of Jayhawks, Dreiling agree to free-agent deals — Former Kansas running back James Sims went undrafted Saturday on the final day of the NFL Draft. But he will have an opportunity to earn a spot in the league.

Sims, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards the last two seasons, signed a free agent contract with the Green Bay Packers. In addition, former KU offensive lineman Aslam Sterling signed a free agent deal with the Denver Broncos, according to his Twitter account.

Pittsburg State linebacker and Hutchinson High product Nate Dreiling also agreed to a free-agent deal with Green Bay, according to his Twitter account.

Titans draft Mettenberger — The Tennessee Titans traded with Washington to move up eight spots Saturday and drafted former Butler Community College standout Zach Mettenberger of LSU at No. 178 overall in the sixth round. Their quarterbacks coach worked Mettenberger out a week ago, and coach Ken Whisenhunt said they considered selecting the quarterback sooner in the draft.

“We had to make the move to get him,” Whisenhunt said. “We’d heard that there were other teams that were trying to move up to get him.”

The 6-foot-5, 252-pound Mettenberger threw for 3,082 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. He tore his left ACL in the regular season finale in November and had surgery in January. He played at Butler in 2010 after being thrown off the team at Georgia after he pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery.

Mettenberger said he was ecstatic for the opportunity and asked about not being drafted until the sixth round, he called this a great opportunity. His draft stock dropped considerably in the last week when reports surfaced that Mettenberger had failed a drug test at the NFL Combine because of a diluted sample, which his trainer said was a result of being overhydrated.

“I'll make the most of it, and I’m ready to get up there and get working,” Mettenberger said.

Tennessee repeatedly has endorsed former first-round pick Jake Locker as the starting quarterback. But the Titans did not pick up his fifth-year option to avoid being on the hook for approximately $14 million in 2015 in case of injury.

Contributing: Rustin Dodd and The Associated Press

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