Joseph LeBeau & Rico Richardson | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Joseph LeBeau & Rico Richardson

Joseph LeBeau (center)

Joseph LeBeau (center) Photo by Courtesy JSU Photography

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Rico Richardson (center)

It has been four years since a Jackson State University player was picked in any round of the NFL Draft. The last occurance was when the Minnesota Vikings chose Tigers wide receiver Jaymar Johnson as their 193rd pick in the sixth round in 2008.

Johnson would go on to have a short NFL career after spending a couple of seasons with the Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals, mostly on the practice squad. Johnson's NFL career ended when he was cut in 2011.

Over the next three days (starting tonight, April 25, with the first round) the NFL will hold its annual amateur draft. Two Jackson State Tigers are hoping to hear their names called before the draft ends.

Wide receiver Rico Richardson and linebacker/defensive end Joseph LeBeau aspire to break the Tigers draft drought. The players are unlikely picks over the first two days of the draft, but on the final day, Saturday, either--or both--could be a late-round pick.

LeBeau ended his senior year with 37 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, four quarterback hurries, six sacks and one forced fumble. He had a better season his junior year, with 75 tackles, 24.5 tackles for a loss, 16 sacks and three forced fumbles.

In the NFL, LeBeau could start his career as a pass rushing end and special teams player. I could see him drafted in the fifth to the seventh round.

Richardson caught 50 passes for 922 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He led the JSU wide receivers, averaging 102.4 receiving yards per game.

The receiver from Natchez also led JSU in all-purpose yards with 965 yards, averaging 107.2 yards per game. In 2011, Richardson led the Tigers in receiving yards with 896 yards on 37 catches with 11 touchdowns.

Richardson could also hear his name called from the fifth to the seventh draft round.

NFL dreams for LeBeau and Richardson may not end even if they fail to get picked during the draft. After the official draft, teams sign multiple draft-eligible players who were not picked.

Two JSU players in the NFL now started their careers as undrafted free agents: Marcus Benard, defensive lineman for the New England Patriots; and DJ Johnson, defensive back for the New York Giants. Both Benard and Johnson entered the league in 2009 as undrafted free agents.

The last time Jackson State had a first-round draft choice was in 2000: The Kansas City Chiefs picked Sylvester Morris with the 21st overall pick, and the Carolina Panthers grabbed Rashard Anderson with their 23rd overall pick. Both Morris and Anderson would be out of the NFL by 2001.

Other Tiger picks in the 2000 NFL Draft were Eric Chandler (seventh round, Cleveland Browns) and Leroy Fields (seventh round, Denver Broncos).

Other draft-eligible players for Jackson State this year are Johnathan Billups, Luis Mcleod, Milton Patterson and Zion Pyatt.

JSUTV Presents: Path to Pro Day

(JACKSON, Miss.) – In the long and storied history of Jackson State University athletics, 86 former Tigers had the distinguished honor of being selected in the National Football League Draft. Now, a new group of former JSU athletes are on a mission to join this elite fraternity.

Watch their story in the new, 30-minute documentary, Path to Pro Day, at the JSUTV Watch Party at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at the U Sports Bar and Grill, 1100 John R. Lynch St. in Jackson.

The highly anticipated documentary profiles four JSU athletes – wide receiver Rico Richardson, defensive end Joseph LeBeau, defensive tackle Johnathan Billups and left tackle Zion Pyatt – as they compete for gridiron glory in front of NFL scouts during the annual Pro Day workout. The documentary also features JSU head football coach Rick Comegy and his entire coaching staff.

Following the film, we invite you to watch the 2013 NFL draft with us!

For more information, call Ashanti Ishakarah at 601-979-2993 or 814-321-7998.

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