Gilyard finally goes

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The Bengals had a chance to take him in the third round, but instead, they opted for Jordan Shipley. The Titans and the Panthers could have had him, as well. The Steelers passed, and so did the Broncos and Chargers.


Mardy Gilyard spent the first two days of the NFL Draft this past weekend waiting. Waiting to receive a phone call from the team who would make him its next pick. Waiting to begin his pro career. Waiting for the next step of his life.


Thursday's first round passed, and predictably, he heard nothing. Friday went by - the second and third rounds - and he heard nothing. On Saturday, though, he didn't have to wait long.


With the first pick of the fourth round - the first pick of the day - the St. Louis Rams drafted Gilyard. And to celebrate, the St. Louis scribes asked him, what was he going to do?


"I'm about to go crabbing," he said.


Oh. Sure, sure. Wait, what?


 "Crabbing is an old school way of catching crabs," he explained. "I'm from the backwoods and we're country folk back here, so we'll be in the backlands or the backwoods here in Florida not too far from where my parents stay at. It's just old school - chicken necks, string and netting - just kind of catching crabs. Go for what you know."


 "We're actually throwing a big party for me here in a couple hours, so I've got to be the man to bring back some crabs. We actually (had a party) the last two days because nobody knew where I was going to end up going."


Gilyard thought a team would take him earlier in the Draft. And why not? He had a stellar career at UC. He holds school records. He showcased memorial catches and kickoff returns. He showed speed and great hands and a willingness to connect with young fans.


But he had to wait a while during the Draft.


"He's not the 6-foot-3 guy," Rams GM Billy Devaney told reporters after making the pick Saturday. "He's 5-11 and change. He's not a 4.4 guy. He's got real competitive speed - especially in the returns, you see him running away from people - but he doesn't have the elite 40 (yard dash) speed. And like we said earlier, it's really deep at receiver. I think as much as anything, (the depth at the position) probably hurt him some."


One positive in Gilyard's favor, though, is his ability to excel on special teams.


"That was one of the attractive things," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "Scouts and coaches talked a lot about that. (Special teams coordinator) Tom McMahon is doing back-flips upstairs. Any way you can change field position, it helps both the defense and the offense. It's a weapon. I want to say (Gilyard had) 93 returns for almost 3,000 yards or something. That's a lot of production."


Now, he'll get a chance to show off his skills in the NFL with the top pick in the draft, QB Sam Bradford, and a young, almost unknown receiver corps. He'll have his chance to make an impact.


"I'm just going to try to come in and compete my hardest and let the rest of it sort itself out," Gilyard said. "It was shocking to hear my name (called). They called me before 10:00 a.m. and said, 'Hey we're going to take you. We're not going to fool around or beat around the bush.' I was just stoked, because now I can finally get ready to go to work. I've been waiting to go to work for forever."

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