A trio of defensive backs who played their high school football in Baltimore County were chosen in the middle rounds of the two-day NFL draft that ended yesterday.
Domonique Foxworth, a cornerback who played at Maryland and Western Tech, was taken by the Denver Broncos at the bottom of the third round late Saturday night, the 97th selection overall.
Vincent Fuller, a safety who starred at Virginia Tech and Woodlawn High, was taken by the Tennessee Titans early in the fourth round yesterday, the 108th pick overall.
And Eric King, who played cornerback at Wake Forest and McDonogh, was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round, the 156th pick overall.
Before the draft, Foxworth had predicted he would be a first-day selection - the first three rounds are completed on Saturday. "It was close," Foxworth said moments after being taken by Denver. At the time, there were just four picks left in the round and minutes later, the Broncos closed out the draft's first day by tapping running back Maurice Clarett. The former Ohio State tailback, who unsuccessfully challenged the league's age threshold, had become a draft celebrity because he hasn't played in two seasons and quit during the NFL combine in February.
If Denver coach Mike Shanahan had to parry questions about Clarett's attitude, he has no such concerns with Foxworth, considered an intelligent and willing performer with the Terrapins. Foxworth was third of three corners Denver took with its first three selections. The others were second-rounder Darrent Williams of Oklahoma State and another third-rounder, Karl Paymah from Washington State.
"We feel we have a player that is very similar to the corners that we have drafted, with great speed and great ability," Shanahan said of Foxworth, 5 feet 11 and 178 pounds.
The Randallstown resident joins a crowded group of at least nine Broncos corners, including Pro Bowl player Champ Bailey, who Foxworth frequently watched when the veteran played with the Washington Redskins.
"That's the type of player I'm striving to become," Foxworth said on his way back to Baltimore from Denver yesterday. "I think I have the ability and the capacity to get there. but I have a long way to go."
Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher, a former defensive back with Southern California and the Chicago Bears, said the 6-1, 189-pound Fuller's versatility - the former Hokie played cornerback before moving to safety as a senior - made him an attractive catch in the fourth round.
"We had said numerous times that the former corner, the athletic safety, is becoming more and more a part of the game," Fisher said. "That's just what he does. We feel like he'll be able to line up and help us at the nickel back spot because he's got cover skills. He can play the deep part of the field because he's got range and change of direction and he tackles."
Fuller said he watched about four hours of the draft on Saturday before he was selected quickly yesterday.
"I didn't have any expectations of where I would go," he said. "I was just hoping that it was in God's hands. I did everything that I could do - the combine, workouts, things of that nature."
At 5-8, 189 pounds, King, a Woodstock resident, said he compensates for lack of size by "playing with a chip on my shoulder."
"All my life, I've been told what I can't do," the Bills rookie said after watching his selection on TV yesterday. "I think I try to go out and prove that what they say is wrong, and be all I can be."
NOTE: Undrafted fullback Kyle Eckel of Navy signed a free-agent contract with the New England Patriots.