April 26, 2009
Four Georgia Tech players were selected Sunday in the 2009 NFL draft. Defensive end Michael Johnson was taken in the third round by the Cincinnati Bengals, offensive tackle Andrew Gardner in the sixth round by the Miami Dolphins, defensive tackle defensive tackle Vance Walker in the seventh round by the Atlanta Falcons, and defensive tackle Darryl Richard in the seventh round by the New England Patriots.
The last time Georgia Tech had more than three players taken in one draft came in 2004, when four players were selected.
Tech cornerback Jahi Word-Daniels said Sunday night that he plans to sign a free agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers.
As expected, all three senior members of the 2008 Yellow Jacket defensive line were drafed. Johnson, Richard and Walker combined for 150 career games played, 87 starts, 89 tackles for loss and 44.5 sacks.
Johnson was taken early in the third round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He was the sixth pick on the second day of the draft, the 70th selection overall. Johnson is Tech’s highest draft selection since Calvin Johnnson was the second pick overall in 2007. He is the first Yellow Jacket to be taken by Cincinnati since Jim Lavin in 1991.
Johnson was an AFCA first team All-American and a first team All-ACC selection in 2008 after leading Georgia Tech with 17.5 tackles-for-loss and 9.0 sacks. He played in 49 career games and started 15 times, including 13 starts in 2008. He finished his career with 107 tackles and 19.0 sacks.
At 6-7 and 260 pounds, Johnson is considered one of the best overall athletes in the draft. The Selma (Ala.) native came to Tech as one of the nation’s top tight ends prospects.
Gardner is the first Yellow Jacket to be taken by Miami since linebacker Marco Coleman in 1992. He is the first Tech offensive lineman to be drafted since Mansfield Wrotto in 2007.
Gardner was a two-time first team All-ACC selection. In 2008 he earned ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week twice before suffering a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the last four games of the season.
With the first pick of the seventh round, the Atlanta Falcons took Walker as the 210th overall selection. Walker played in 49 career games and recorded 109 tackles and 26.5 tackles for loss.
Walker was a first team All-ACC selection in 2008 and was invited to play in the Senior Bowl.
Walker is the first Yellow Jacket to be drafted by the Atlanta Falcons since Keith Brooking in 1998.
Later in the seventh round the New England Patriots chose Richard with the 25th pick (234 overall) of the seventh round. Richard had 32 career tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. A second team All-ACC selection in 2008, Richard played in the East-West Shrine Game and also earned the prestigious Tatum Award.
In New England, Richard will be reunited with former Yellow Jacket teammate, linebacker Gary Guyton.
Walker and Richard were the first Tech defensive tackles to be drafted since Coleman Rudolph in 1993.
At least two Georgia Tech players have been taken in the draft in each of the last four years.