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Big day for local NFL prospects

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Slippery Rock's Brandon Fusco, a Seneca Valley graduate, and Jason Pinkston of Pitt and Baldwin High School, were among a large group of local NFL hopefuls who heard their names called on day three of the NFL Draft.

Four players from the West Virginia Mountaineers' stifling defense were taken off the board on the third and final day of the 2011 NFL draft, as well as Penn State's all-time leading rusher and a pair of small-school prospects with promise. A number of local products with NFL aspirations -- including Noel Devine and Jock Sanders -- didn't get drafted and now face an uncertain future. Undrafted prospects can't sign with teams during the lockout, so they'll have to wait out the labor dispute before trying to beat the odds.

Round Four
Brandon Hogan, CB, WVU (Carolina Panthers, 98th overall):
Hogan comes with plenty of red flags -- he had two alcohol-related arrests as a senior, and he tore his  left ACL in WVU's season finale. Still, the Panthers made him the first pick of Day Three due to his man-to-man skills and potential in the return game.

Round Five
Robert Sands, S, WVU (Cincinnati Bengals, 134th overall):
At 6-foot-4 and nearly 220 pounds, Sands has rare size for a defensive back. His frame makes him a heavy hitter, but he also lacks great change-of-direction skills. Sands looks like a special teams player and occasional run-stuffer at the next level.
Dion Lewis, RB, Pitt (Philadelphia Eagles, 149th overall): Lewis was a stud as a freshman at Pitt, earning the Big East Offensive Player of the Year award, but his production tailed off as a sophomore. As a 5-foot-7 'back who weighs a little over 190 pounds after a late-night binge at The Big O, Lewis faces long odds in enjoying a long NFL career. If he does make it, he'll join former Pitt star LeSean "Shady" McCoy in the Eagles' backfield.
Jason Pinkston, OT, Pitt (Cleveland Browns, 150th overall): Considered a Day Two prospect by some, Pinkston fell to the middle of the fifth round due to concerns over his pure strength. He's a good athlete, though, and a nice value for the Browns at this spot.

Round Six
Brandon Fusco, C, Slippery Rock (Minnesota Vikings, 172nd overall):
Fusco's tenacity and punch will help him in his quest to crack Vikings' roster, though he'll have to address concerns that he lacks NFL athleticism.
Evan Royster, RB, PSU (Washington Redskins, 177th overall): PSU's all-time leading rusher doesn't have scorching speed and won't often break loose for long runs in the pros. That said, his decent hands, ability to find holes and willingness to block might endear him to coaches.
J.T. Thomas, LB, WVU (Chicago Bears, 195th overall): Thomas is undersized and occasionally plays out of control, but he has excellent speed and could be a special teams standout while backing up Lance Briggs.

Round Seven
Greg Romeus, DE, Pitt (New Orleans Saints, 226th overall): It all comes down to health for Romeus. Once considered a superior prospect to fellow Pitt defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who went to the Cleveland Browns in Round Two, Romeus tumbled down draft boards after undergoing back surgery and suffering a torn right ACL upon returning to the field. If mended, he could be a draft steal as a pass rusher who can hold his own at the line of scrimmage.
Tommie Campbell, S, California (PA) (Tennessee Titans, 251st overall): Originally a Pitt recruit, Campbell was kicked out of Oakland after a couple of years, wore out his welcome at Edinboro University and worked as a janitor at Pittsburgh International Airport prior to getting another chance to clean up his act at Cal U. There's a reason teams keep taking chances on him -- Campbell has NFL size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) and speed (a 4.3 40-yard dash).
Chris Neild, DT, WVU (Washington Redskins, 253rd overall): Neild anchored WVU's top-notch defense, tangling up offensive lineman and freeing the linebackers and safeties to wreak havoc. He doesn't stand out in individual workouts, but he gets good leverage and looks the part of a Chris Hoke-like player.

DAY 1 and 2 LOCAL PLAYERS DRAFTED
Round 1: JONATHAN BALDWIN
, WR, Pitt (Aliquippa) -- Kansas City Chiefs, 26th overall
Round 2: JABAAL SHEARD, DE, Pitt -- Cleveland Browns, 37th overall
Round 2: STEFEN WISNIEWSKI, C/G, Penn State (Pittsburgh Central Catholic) -- Oakland Raiders, 48th overall

UNDRAFTED - waiting out the lockout
Scooter Berry, DT, WVU
Brett Brackett, TE, PSU
Dom DeCicco, SS/LB, Pitt
Noel Devine, RB, WVU
Elias Eliades, G, PSU
Scoot Fields, DB, formerly of Pitt
Ricky Gary, CB, Pitt
Bani Gdabyu, LB, PSU
Sidney Glover, S, WVU
Henry Hynoski, FB, Pitt
Eric Jobe, G, WVU
Alex Karabin, C, Pitt
Thomas Keiser, LB, Stanford
Patrick Lazear, LB, WVU
Ollie Ogbu, DT, PSU
Jock Sanders, WR, WVU
Darrin Walls, CB, Notre Dame
Graham Zug, WR, PSU

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