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April 28, 2012

Chapman leads UA's final-day draftees

TUSCALOOSA | University of Alabama defensive lineman Josh Chapman was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts Saturday with the first pick of the NFL Draft's fifth round, while defensive back DeQuan Menzie went to the Kansas City Chiefs 10 picks later.

UA tight end Brad Smelley, a Tuscaloosa native, was chosen by the Cleveland Browns in the seventh and final round with the 247th overall choice.

"It feels great to get ready for this next process in my life," Chapman said. "I'm glad to be a Colt. I heard different things about different teams. I heard from a lot of them, but I thought the Colts might be the one."

As the anchor of Alabama's run defense from the nose guard position, Chapman
occupied frequent double teams to help allow UA linebackers stay in position to make tackles. Chapman finished his fifth-year senior season with 23 tackles, 3.5 for losses, and one sack.

Chapman injured his knee against Florida early in the season, but continued to play and did not have surgery until after the season. That limited his ability to work out for NFL clubs in the offseason, but it's a decision he doesn't regret. Chapman said he expects to be ready for the Colts' summer training camp.

"That's the plan," Chapman said. "I've been doing a lot of things, and I'm already straight-line running. ... I knew the knee would affect me in the draft, but in my last games at the University of Alabama, I wanted to be part of something special. I knew it wasn't about how I ended up in the draft, it's about how I end up in my career."

Chapman was chosen with the 136th overall pick, while Menzie went No. 146. A two-year starter in the Alabama secondary, Menzie made 41 tackles last year with a team-high 11 pass breakups. Menzie, though a cornerback and nickelback at Alabama, could be moved to safety in Kansas City. He becomes teammates with another former UA nickelback with the Chiefs in Javier Arenas.

Smelley played H-back for the Crimson Tide as a starter in his senior season, and became one of AJ McCarron's top receiving targets.

Smelley gave Alabama eight total draftees, including four in the first round. Among the undrafted Alabama players expected to receive contracts as undrafted free agents are wide receiver Marquis Maze, center William Vlachos and linebacker Jerrell Harris.

"It was a little hectic. After the sixth round things started heating up with phone calls." Smelley said. "I'm super excited to play in Cleveland, play with Trent (Richardson)."

Smelley said the Browns coaching staff checked with Richardson for an endorsement on Smelley before making the pick.

"Trent called me said they asked him, '"What about that guy?' and he told them to grab me," Smelley said. "I appreciated that from my guy."

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196.

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