The Miami Hurricanes have returned to first-round relevancy.
After a six-year, first-round drought followed a record-setting 14-year streak of at least one player taken in the opening round of the NFL Draft, the Hurricanes struck gold on Thursday night when offensive tackle Ereck Flowers of Miami and receiver Phillip Dorsett of Fort Lauderdale were among the top 32 drafted.
Flowers was picked ninth overall by the New York Giants, with Dorsett taken 29 by the Indianapolis Colts.
Before Thursday’s draft in Chicago, the last Hurricane to go in the initial round was safety Kenny Phillips at No. 31 to the New York Giants in 2008.
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The last Cane to be selected in the top 10 of the NFL Draft was cornerback Antrel Rolle at No. 8 to the Arizona Cardinals in 2005. The last Cane to go No. 9 was 1987 defensive tackle Jerome Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles. Brown died at age 27 in a 1992 car accident.
This is the first time since 2007 that UM had multiple players go in the first round.
“Man, I still don’t believe it. That’s a hell of a great program. I’m really excited now,’’ Flowers said in a video posted by the Giants. “I’m going to work on my overall game. I’m ready to get up there and take this coaching and progress.
“The main thing I love is the running back running through the holes that I created.’’
Flowers was the second offensive lineman chosen.
Dorsett, absolutely jubilant on TV at his uncle’s home in Hollywood, was the sixth receiver chosen.
The 6-6, 329-pound Flowers, who graduated from Miami Norland High and declared for the draft after his junior season, was always considered a talent. But his skill level jumped out to analysts and NFL teams after he returned to the playing field Nov. 15 against top-ranked and eventual national champion Florida State less than two weeks following knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He led the Canes’ offense to 492 yards against FSU, stifling defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr.
Flowers started 29 games at Miami, including 25 of the past 26 at left tackle.
“I love this pick,’’ ESPN analyst Louis Riddick said. “This is a powerful young man. I think Flowers is going to add some pop to their running game. He’ll improve as a pass protector the more he plays.
“This is a nasty, physical, tenacious young prospect. … He’s a prototype New York Giant.’’
Both picks will play for high-profile quarterbacks, Flowers with Eli Manning and Dorsett with Andrew Luck. Dorsett also joins former Canes receiver Andre Johnson and running back Frank Gore. His new coach is former UM defensive backs coach Chuck Pagano and his associate head coach is former UM offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, with former Canes tight end Alfredo Roberts the Colts tight ends coach.
What the 5-10, 185-pound Dorsett lacks in size he made up for in speed, smarts, good hands and just about everything else. He wowed NFL scouts and coaches with his 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, then bettered that with a 4.25 at UM’s Pro Timing Day on April 1.
Dorsett, scheduled to graduate UM May 8th, led the Hurricanes with 871 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on 36 catches – a 24.2-yard-per-catch average.
“They say you can’t teach speed, and fortunately, that is something I have never needed to be taught,’’ Dorsett wrote recently on “The Players’ Tribune’’ blog. “Physically, I have what it takes to succeed in the NFL,’’ he went on to say in the long essay. “I’ve heard questions about my size and I shrug them off. …when it comes to playing football, it’s all about heart.’’
After he was drafted, Dorsett tweeted “Hard work pays off! No doubt I’m proud to be a Colt. Get my jersey >>’’ The arrow directed readers to a website selling his new Colts jersey for $99.99 – with the No. 1 on the front and back, and “Dorsett’’ across the back.
His sponsor, adidas Football US, tweeted “It’s off to the races in Indy. Welcome to Indianapolis, @Dorsett_4. #teamadidas”
The draft continues at 7 p.m. Friday with rounds two and three, when more Canes are expected to be chosen.