COLUMBIA — The most historic pick in the 2014 NFL Draft came at No. 249 overall, when Michael Sam was selected by the St. Louis Rams to become the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL.
But several other former Tigers realized their dreams, too. Four Missouri players were taken in the draft — which ran from Thursday through Saturday — and at least six more Tigers signed with teams shortly after the draft concluded.
The Rams also drafted former Missouri corner back E.J. Gaines on Saturday. St. Louis took him in the sixth round with the 188th overall pick.
"It's a blessing, especially to stay close to home, close to where I played college football," Gaines said on a conference call. "I'm excited to play for Coach (Jeff) Fisher."
On Friday, defensive end Kony Ealy and offensive lineman Justin Britt were selected four picks apart in the second round.
Britt rounded out the second round at pick No. 64, being picked by the Seattle Seahawks.
The Carolina Panthers took Ealy with the 60th pick overall, adding depth to their defense, which led the NFL with 60 sacks last season. Ealy's former teammate, wide receiver Marcus Lucas, was signed by the Panthers as an undrafted free agent.
Ealy was projected as a possible first-round pick after he posted an impressive time in the 3-cone drill, which measures agility, at the NFL Combine in February. But he slipped a bit, and this draft became the first since 2009 that no Tigers were selected in the first round.
Panthers' general manager Dave Gettleman spoke to media on a conference call on Saturday. He said he has no idea how Ealy slid to No. 60.
"Beats the heck out of me," Gettleman said. "I have no idea. I don’t know."
Meanwhile, quarterback James Franklin signed with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent. Franklin threw 51 touchdowns in 43 games with Missouri.
Linebacker Andrew Wilson signed with Miami. Wilson racked up 332 total tackles in his four seasons with Missouri.
Tight end Eric Waters didn't know that the Steelers were interested in signing him until "a couple picks" into the seventh round, he said. Then, he got a call from coach Mike Tomlin.
"I was getting more and more nervous," Waters said.
Running back Henry Josey tweeted that he was signing with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Excited and humble to take the next step in my life! Philly you have a new weapon #Eagles— Henry Josey (@I_AM_HJOSEY20) May 10, 2014
Wide receiver L'Damian Washington, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday, tweeted that he signed with the Cowboys.
Missouri's four draftees contributed to the 49 Southeastern Conference players selected in the draft.
Auburn, which beat Missouri 59-42 in last season's SEC Championship game, accounted for four draftees as well — including running back Tre Mason.
Mason, picked 75th in the draft, joins Gaines and Sam in St. Louis.
Supervising editor is Mark Selig.