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May 10, 2014

Carey headlines Arizona's Day 3 NFL draft trio

After two full days and more than 100 selections through the NFL draft's first three-and-a-half rounds, Ka'Deem Carey finally has a new place to call home.

One thing won't change: He will still Bear Down.

The Chicago Bears selected the ex-Arizona star with the 17th pick of the fourth round Saturday morning.

Carey, the 117th overall selection, was the 11th running back selected at a position that failed to produce a pick until Bishop Sankey went to the Tennessee Titans at No. 54 in Round 2 the previous night. It was the first draft in NFL history that did not produce a running back among the top 40 selections.

After Friday night, eight running backs were taken ahead of the Pac-12 Conference player of the year through the first three rounds - including names from smaller universities such as Towson, Georgia Southern and Kent State. Each unfamiliar running back taken that night drew a puzzled groan from Carey's friends and family members.

The 1,885 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior last season suddenly did not matter as much as his expected lackluster time in the 40-yard dash. It was a matter of ceiling and speed, in the case of Dri Archer's combine-best 4.26 seconds in the 40, over the steady on-field production that included the nation's rushing title in 2012 and 16 consecutive games with least 100 rushing yards to close Carey's career. That's the only way to explain how Archer shot up draft boards to land with the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 97 overall, while a consensus All-American was forced to take his own advice.

"Patience is a virtue," he was reminded by a friend before the end of the night.

After then watching Devonta Freeman (103rd to the Atlanta Falcons) and Andre Williams (113th to the New York Giants) selected ahead of him in the round, Carey had his moment and joined a roster that features running back Matt Forte.

Carey called the process a bit "scary," working out for teams in pursuit of his dream.

"You're out there working, grinding," Carey said. "You wait for this day to get your name called."

While the months after the season may have hurt him, the workouts with various teams helped former teammate Shaquille Richardson.

Despite not getting invited to the scouting combine, the cornerback impressed the Pittsburgh Steelers enough to become their fifth-round selection and 157th overall in the draft.

Richardson, a full-time starter in his final three seasons at Arizona, collected 55 tackles and three interceptions in 2013. He also will be reunited with former teammate Robert Golden, an undrafted free-agent pickup by the Steelers in 2012.

"I was really excited to get the call from the Steelers, a team that I liked a lot during this whole process," Richardson told GOAZCATS.com from his home in Carson, Calif. "I can't wait to go get to work."

One round later, linebacker Marquis Flowers was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 212th overall pick.

Flowers posted 93 tackles, second-most on the team, including a team-high-tying 11 for a loss in his senior year. But the three-year starter was another who went without a combine invite and worked his way into the draft.

The 6-3, 229-pounder also has experience at safety, where he started in 2011 before switching positions in his final two seasons. But Flowers said he will likely stick at linebacker and have to work his way onto the field through special teams.

That late in the draft, Flowers added he was eyeing a possible undrafted free-agent scenario after text messages and phone calls from the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers telling him to "hang in there." So when Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis called with the word "congratulations," he was overwhelmed.

"When he said that, I kind of looked up and I had seen they were on the clock," Flowers said. "'You're officially a Cincinnati Bengal.' It was just a whole bunch of emotions and I'm holding my son. It was a great feeling."

The last time Arizona had three players taken in the same draft was 2012, when Nick Foles, Juron Criner and Trevin Wade were selected.

Also, receiver/tight end Terrence Miller will join the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent. As a senior, the 6-4 target caught 40 passes for 467 yards and a touchdown.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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