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Toon, Miller face big challenges in NFL

Sun., April 29, 2012

NEW YORK – Nick Toon and Lamar Miller know all about tough tasks. Their challenges won’t get any easier as they head to the NFL.

Toon, the son of former New York Jets standout Al Toon, was selected in the fourth round of Saturday’s draft by the Saints. He can be comforted about going to play with Drew Brees in New Orleans, but Toon recognizes he will be compared to his father – just as he was at Wisconsin.

“My dad was a great football player,” Nick Toon said of Al, who retired prematurely because of concussions. “I don’t think anyone would debate that. To go to the same school and play the same position, I think is a challenge. At the same time, I think that the expectations of that challenge follow you to anywhere you are playing football.”

That would be the Big Easy, no easy chore if the expectations are he will immediately replace Robert Meachem, who left as a free agent.

“No. 1, I think he has a great pedigree,” interim coach Joe Vitt said. “He’s a polished route-runner, can catch the ball outside the framework of his body and can make the big play.”

Just like his dad did with the Jets from 1985-92.

“He has been a great sounding board for me throughout my career and my entire life,” Nick Toon said. “He has been a great blueprint (for me) as a football player. He is just a good person and a good leader.”

Miller stayed home in Miami and had two more years of eligibility with the Hurricanes when he chose to enter the draft. So who traded up to grab him?

The Dolphins.

Miami jumped six slots in a move with San Francisco to get Miller, one of the faster running backs in this crop and also a kick return prospect. It’s difficult enough dealing with being a college player where you grew up. Now he is a pro there.

“I was upset at first,” he said after waiting more than 36 hours to hear his name announced. “But now I’m happy with where I’m at. To be in my hometown, to get a chance to play for a Super Bowl, that’s always a great thing. I’m just ready to put the team on the map.”

Miller rushed for 1,272 yards and nine touchdowns last year.

Wide receivers and more trades were trendy on the final day of the draft, which ended when Indianapolis selected North Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnisch as Mr. Irrelevant – 252 picks after taking Andrew Luck to open the proceedings.

Hours earlier, Chris Givens was taken by St. Louis to open the fourth round. Givens also can help the Rams in the return game. He had some injury issues at Wake Forest, but had 1,330 yards on 83 receptions in 2011.

“Yesterday was a little frustrating and a little humbling at the same time,” Givens said of not going on Friday. “I really felt like they liked me a lot and I thought they were going to get me and then they got Brian Quick (to begin Round 2), and then I thought OK, well, they’re not going to get me anymore. Then today I was pleasantly surprised.”

Cleveland, desperate for offensive playmakers, might have added one in Miami Hurricanes receiver Travis Benjamin, and Carolina went for Arkansas wideout Joe Adams, all in the first nine selections Saturday. There were eight wide receivers chosen in the round, including Toon.

Another three wideouts were chosen in the fifth round, four in the sixth and five in the seventh for a total of 33.

San Francisco received Miami’s pick in the fourth round and two sixth-rounders, one this year and one in 2013, in the Miller deal. After 18 trades on the first two days of the draft, there were three in the first few minutes Saturday and four in Round 4, followed by eight more in the next round. Altogether, 27 trades were made.

Tags: NFL draft

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