The National Football League will take over Radio City Music Hall in New York City this weekend for its annual draft ceremonies and as always, the state of California will be well represented.
Among the 50 draft eligible prospects from the state, three hail from Long Beach Unified School District programs.
Dion Bailey (Lakewood High School), Joel Bitonio (Wilson Senior High) and Alden Darby (Millikan High School) will be among those waiting this weekend to hear their name called by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Some may have to wait longer than others.
Bitonio, who starred at Wilson before playing at the University of Nevada, is regarded as a top offensive line prospect, with some websites listing him as a top 50 player overall. He’s projected to be selected in the second round which will take place Friday evening.
After spending three years as one of the leaders in the Southern California Trojans’ defensive backfield, Lakewood’s Bailey joins the record-breaking exodus of underclassmen (98 in total) in this year’s draft. Bailey is ranked as a top five prospect at free safety and is expected to be selected in the middle rounds of this year’s draft.
Darby represents Millikan’s NFL hopes in this year’s draft. He played in 50 career games at Arizona State University, logging 10 interceptions with two returned for touchdowns (both against USC) during his time in the desert. Regarded as a late round or potential free agent signee, Darby would become just the third Millikan alum to play in the NFL if he makes a roster.
At the start of the 2013 season, 268 California players were listed on depth charts in the league, the most of any state. Long Beach Poly which has a storied past and has long been considered an NFL pipeline having produced over 50 professional players, will not be represented in this year’s draft. However, the Jackrabbits rank 2nd nationally with five active players in the NFL behind St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale,Florida that boasted 10 alumni in the league at the start of last year.
The NFL Draft starts May 8 and ends May 10 and will be covered by both ESPN and The NFL Network.