The NFL Draft’s third round proved to be the charm for UConn football players looking to make the next step on Friday night as three Huskies were taken within the first eight picks of Round 3.
Dwayne Gratz got things started, going 64th overall – second pick of the round – to Jacksonville. He was quickly followed by Sio Moore (66th to the Raiiders) and Blidi Wreh-Wilson (70th to Tennessee.
Gratz, from Piscataway, N.J., isa two-time second team All-Big East cornerback who led UConn interceptions in 2012. He had three interceptions this season and eight overall, played a quiet but steady career. He made a lot of noise at the NFL Combine, though, in February where he scored top 10 finishes at his position in the bench press, vertical jump and three-cone drill.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work up to this point so Im looking forward to the next step,” Gratz said on Friday after his selection.
The versatile Gratz is physical and has good ball-hawking skills. He could very well be moved the safety at the next level.
It didn’t take long for the UConn brand to be called again as Moore, a first team All Big East linebacker who had 14.5 sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss his final two seasons, was selected by the Raiders.
Talk about Moore began heating up quickly during postseason bowl games such as the East-West Shrine game – but it didn’t stop there. It continued through and after the NFL Combine as well where Moore turned heads as top performer in four of the seven events, including the bench press, vertical jump, broad jump and 40-yard dash.
NFL people believe Moore can either play the strong or weak-side linebacker spots at the next level.
Wreh-Wilson was next. A second team All Big East cornerback pick in 2012, Wreh-Wilson completed just his sixth year of football, which was his fifth year in college. He began playing his senior season in high school. He registered eight career interceptions, including ones for touchdowns in consecutive games in 2010.
Wreh-Wilson, the Huskies’ team MVP last season, has been on the NFL scouts’ drfat boards for the past year or so not only because of his shutdown corner skills but also because of leadership skills, character and commitment to hard work.
Wreh-Wilson always carried himself in exemplary manner on the field and off. Mixed with his skills, athleticism and desire he will be an asset in the NFL and sorely missed in Storrs.
Story by Desmond Conner of the Hartford Courant. Read more at courant.com