Maryland's Fowler, Hill taken in third round

Browns take Fowler with 76th overall pick

expansion Texans get Hill

April 21, 2002|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Maryland linemen Melvin Fowler and Charles Hill were taken in the third round of yesterday's NFL draft, going to the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans, respectively.

Fowler, a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection at center, went to the Browns as the 76th overall selection and as the second center drafted - behind first-rounder LeCharles Bentley of Ohio State. Hill, a defensive tackle, went to the Texans with the 83rd selection.

"I'm really happy," Fowler said from his home in Wyandanch, N.Y., on Long Island. "It's just a great opportunity. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm going to take advantage of it."

At 6 feet 2 and 300 pounds, Fowler was prized for his quickness and intelligence, which he put on display over the past three months at the Senior Bowl, Maryland's pro workout day, and at the NFL combine, where he did 25 repetitions of the standard 225-pound bench press and ran the 40-yard dash in 5.1 seconds.

Fowler first came to notice as one of the main cogs in his team's ACC championship season.

"Once you can be on a championship team, it enhances your chances of being recognized and noticed," he said.

Hill was the Terrapins' second-leading tackler during the 2001 season, with 81 hits, including eight for losses and two sacks. The 6-1, 292-pound player impressed scouts with quickness and good technique during the Senior Bowl week in January, then again with solid workouts at the February combine.

He had expected to be drafted by one of the teams that had actually worked him out on campus in College Park - the Washington Redskins, New England Patriots and Ravens.

His only experience with the Texans' staff was at the combine in Indianapolis. The conversations were cordial, but he did not know what to expect from them.

"I did the tests and talked to the coaches and we had good conversations," Hill said. "I knew they were interested, but a lot of teams talk to you like they're interested."

There was a possibility that Hill could be taken this early, though it was generally expected that he would go on the second day of the draft today. So he spent most of the day watching the NBA playoffs, and was in the middle of the Orlando Magic-Charlotte Hornets game when the phone rang and an 832 area code showed on the caller ID.

"I knew I didn't know any know anyone in that area, so I knew it had to be a team, and it was Houston," he said. "I'm glad that they picked me. I'm familiar with some of the players in the expansion draft, but I haven't been watching the draft so I don't know who they picked outside of [David] Carr."

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