The second, third and sixth rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft proved beneficial to three players from HBCUs.
South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard was drafted by the Colts as the fourth pick of the second round Friday.
Later Friday evening, the Oakland Raiders selected North Carolina A&T tackle Brandon Parker as the first pick in the third round of the Draft.
Saturday, Virginia State running back/kick returner Trent Cannon was the 204th overall pick in the sixth round by the New York Jets.
These selections preceeded an evalance of free agent selections that will be documented for the days and weeks ahead.
The 6-2, 235,Lake View, SC native was the first player selected from an (HBCU) Historically Black College in this year's draft, and was pegged by many pre-NFL draft websites as one of the top linebackers in the country in FCS/ I-AA.
Leonard is the third Bulldog to be selected this high in the NFL draft. Defensive end Robert Porcher was taken in the first round with the 26th pick in 1992 by the Detroit Lions and Anthony Cook, went 35th overall to the Houston Oilers in the second round of the 1995 draft. The Bulldogs' most recent draftee was Pittsburg Steelers defensive lineman Javon Hargrave selected in the third round with the 89th pick of the 2016 draft.
A two-time MEAC defensive player of the year and a first-team selection on the 2017 STATS FCS All-America Team, totaled a school-record 394 tackles in his career. Leonard racked up a game-high 14 tackles at college football's premier All-Star game and earned Most Valuable Player on Defense in the Reese's Senior Bowl held last month in Mobile, Alabama.
He also became the school’s All-Time Leading Tackler and is considered one of the most decorated defensive players to wear the uniform, earning multiple All-American honors, and is the fourth Bulldog invited to the NFL combine since Javon Hargrave (Pittsburgh) in 2016, Arther Love in 1999 (New England) and Christian Thompson in 2012 (Baltimore Ravens).
After trading the No. 75 overall pick, the No. 152 overall pick and No. 212 pick to the Baltimore Ravens, the Oakland Raiders selected Parker with the No. 65 overall pick.
Behind Parker the Aggies had the MEAC’s No. 1 rushing offense for three straight seasons.
In 2017, the Aggies ranked No. 1 in the conference in 3rd down conversion, total first downs, rushing offense, scoring offense, fewest tackles for loss allowed, fewest sacks allowed and total offense …
He has never surrendered a sack in his career and has only been called for four penalties in his career.
Parker has played in 35 straight games with 35 straight starts. He was the first Aggie to win MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year since Qasim Mitchell did it in 2001
The Kannapolis, N.C. native was a key part of an A&T team that won its second HBCU National Championship in three seasons and became the first MEAC school to ever finish a season undefeated.
Parker joins former teammate and MEAC all-time leading rusher Tarik Cohen in the NFL. Cohen was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2017.
Cannon was selected by the New York Jets with the 204th pick overall in the sixth round of the Draft.
He has received numerous accolades for his outstanding performance this season. Cannon was selected to play in the 2018 National Football League Player Association Collegiate bowl that took place on January 20. He led the Trojans to an undefeated regular season, piling up 245 all-purpose yards per game. In addition, he was named the CIAA Offensive Player of the Year, and was the second consecutive VSU player to take home the Lanier award, given to the best small-college player in the country.
Cannon received the Offensive Back of the Year honor by the Touchdown Club of Richmond while leading the CIAA in overall rushing yards this season (1,387) and rushing yards per game (154.1). He also produced 14 touchdowns on the season. and is currently VSU's All-Time Rusher with a total of 3,780 yards.
For his college career he played in 38 games (25 starts), rushed for 4,246 yards (7.1 yards/carry) and 46 touchdowns, caught 51 passes for 638 more yards and seven more TDs, and also averaged 32.6 yards/kickoff return with three TD returns the last two seasons.