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Sanders takes Luck, Newton with first skill position picks

January 23, 2014
By OSKAR GARCIA , The Associated Press

KAPOLEI, Hawaii - NFL great Deion Sanders took quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Cam Newton with his first skill position picks in the Pro Bowl draft Wednesday, moving for passers early before focusing on defense.

Jerry Rice took New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham then Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy with his first two picks, giving active player captain Drew Brees his top target early to go along with two Saints offensive linemen picked Tuesday.

"I wouldn't rather be with anybody else, obviously," Graham told reporters after being picked. All five New Orleans players in the Pro Bowl ended up on Rice's team.

Article Photos

The Kansas City Chiefs’ Eric Berry (left) and Justin Houston wait to be selected during the Pro Bowl draft on Wednesday at a beachside estate in Kapolei.
AP photo

The picks kicked off the process of divvying up 60 players for Sunday's game at Aloha Stadium on Oahu.

The game is being played in an "unconferenced" format for the first time, straying from its usual AFC vs. NFC teams. Sanders and Rice each picked captains and their first 11 players on Tuesday.

The draft is a new format by the NFL to liven up the game, which has been criticized by fans and even commissioner Roger Goodell for the quality of play.

The draft embraces the popular hobby of fantasy football and put many players in the interesting situation of having to watch two Hall of Famers pass them up.

"It looks like I'm waiting," Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall said after watching four receivers come off the board. "This is sad - real sad."

Sanders retorted: "Somebody get him some aspirin."

Defensive end Mario Williams became the first player to be assigned when he was the last player at his position off the board at his position.

"Just be careful where you throw the ball," Williams said afterward toward Brees.

Other players assigned included Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle and New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski to Rice. Sanders was assigned tight ends Jordan Cameron of Cleveland and Jason Witten of Dallas, along with Jacksonville linebacker Paul Posluszny.

"There's been some questionable picks," Posluszny said.

The draft played out on a beachside estate used for weddings and luaus on Oahu's west side, adjacent to the plush Ko Olina resort where the players are staying for the week with their families.

About 1,000 fans attended the draft.



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