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April 27, 2013

Minter leads group of LSU defensive draftees

The run on LSU defensive players in the NFL draft began in earnest Friday night.

After defensive end Barkevious Mingo and safety Eric Reid were chosen in the first round Thursday, four former Tigers defensive players heard their names called 24 hours later.

The Arizona Cardinals selected linebacker Kevin Minter in the second round. In the third round, the Philadelphia Eagles chose tackle Bennie Logan and the Houston Texans picked end Sam Montgomery. In the third round, Arizona chose cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who was dismissed from the team last year.

The Cardinals traded down with the San Diego Chargers seven places to the 13th spot in the second round to draft Minter. Coincidentally, San Diego picked inside linebacker Manti Te'o with that selection.

Arizona general manager Steve Keim knows exactly what type of player he is getting in Minter.

"Minter is not the longest athlete, but he is a squatty explosive player on impact," said Keim on the Arizona web site. "He's got some natural explosiveness to his hips. When he strikes you, you go backwards.

"MInter is a physical, downhill player. He has much better range that what most people give him credit for. We felt his game fits us."

Minter is looking forward to helping the Cardinals right away.

"They said I can be a good fit for the team," said Minter, who made 130 tackles last season. "They asked me if I was ready to come down to Arizona and bust some heads. I told them 'yes.'

"I graduated in December. I had a great season and we aren't necessarily in the best of situations back home. It's nice to be able to retire my mother and take care of her."

The presence of former LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson on the Arizona roster influenced the Cardinals' decision to draft Mathieu, who was dismissed from the Tigers program for multiple violations of the substance abuse policy. Mathieu spent a lot of time prior to the draft with Peterson.

"This is one of the happiest days of my life," Peterson said. "I am more than confident Tyrann will be okay. He knows he made a mistake, but football is his life. Now, he has an opportunity to do it again. I can promise you he would never let that opportunity slip away again."

Mathieu cried during his conference call with Arizona on Friday night.

"The whole time I'm telling myself that I'm not going to cry," Mathieu said. "I've been playing football my whole life. Just to see this all come back around, I know I'm on the right track."

Mathieu has agreed to a series of drug tests. Keim acknowledged that the choice of Mathieu is viewed as a gamble.

"At the end of the day, there is always of element of risk with any of these picks," Keim said. "With the structure we have in place and the agreement with Tyrann and his representatives, they will take the necessary measures to walk the straight and narrow. We felt comfortable with the risks involved."

Logan was the first LSU player chosen in the third round. New Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly was surprised that Logan was still available at that time.

"We were really fortunate getting Bennie in the third round," Kelly said. "We had him in the second round. Bennie has the ability to be a three-down player. He's stout against the run. But, I think that on third down he can be a pass rusher for us."

Logan is willing to line up at any position for Philadelphia. He played tackle against Kelly's Oregon team in the opening game of the 2011 season at Cowboys Stadium.

"When I met with the Eagles at the (NFL) combine, they told me I was versatile," Logan said. "I could play nose, three-technique (tackle) or one-technique (tackle), or even defensive end. That's why they were interested in me - because I could play more than one position on the defensive line.

"I prefer inside. But whatever the Eagles ask me to do, I'm willing to learn that position. I just want to contribute to the team in whatever way I am used."

Montgomery, who was chosen with Houston's compensatory pick at the end of the third round, will be asked to move from defensive end to outside linebacker.

"Sam's play strength is exceptional," Texans linebackers coach Reggie Herring said. "As far as the run game, he has that strength you need to play early in this league.

"He'll blend in well as far as the run game is concerned and setting the edge in our package. The one thing he will have to learn is to how to drop a little bit. Those are things he wasn't asked to do at LSU."

Montgomery indicated that he felt very comfortable with the Texans players and coaches he had met in the pre-draft meetings.

"I like the coaching staff and I'm ready to help the guys win games," Montgomery said. "I've met some of the guys (on the team) and I've got a real great feel for this place. I'm so ready."

The final four rounds of the draft will be conducted Saturday.


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