CINCINNATI — Four local high school football stars - teammates from Winton Woods, a running back from Mount Healthy and a tackle from Lakota West - took the first big step toward NFL careers in this week’s draft.
Winton Woods coach Andre Parker saw two of his former players - University of Kentucky senior safety Mike Edwards and West Virginia redshirt junior linebacker David Long – picked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans, respectively,
Edwards went in the third round, Long in the sixth.
Iowa State junior running back David Montgomery, the pride of Mount Healthy, was selected by the Chicago Bears in the third round and already is being projected as the Bears' No. 1 running back. Kentucky senior offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei from Lakota West was picked by the New York Giants in the seventh round.
Proud Principal Moment! Winton Woods High School is extremely Proud of our two warriors that were selected in the 2019 NFL DRAFT! Congrats David Long and Mike Edwards #WarriorStrong ! @warriorsath pic.twitter.com/mMog70Hk5I
— @ermartin89 (@ermartin89) April 27, 2019
The Bucs took Edwards with the 99th pick. "Mike is a playmaker from the safety position," said Bucs GM Jason Licht. "He's moved around. He's played a little bit in the nickel position. We see him more as a safety for us. He has good speed, tough guy, finds his way to get his hands on balls or intercept balls."
In four years at Kentucky, Edwards never missed a game. He had 10 interceptions, 23 passes defended and two defensive touchdowns to go with 318 career tackles. In a 2016 game against in-state rival Louisville, Edwards twice intercepted Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
Edwards, a 2014 Winton Woods graduate, had an impressive pro day April 8after he suffered a thumb injury in the winter.
"He is a super, super intelligent kid," Parker said. "I'm very confident he will get on the field."
Edwards told WCPO he had meetings with a number of teams including the Bengals.
NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. called Edwards "a proven playmaker" and "a team leader."
"He can make his presence felt in a lot of ways," Kiper said.
Long, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2018, was the 188th player drafted and said he likes the idea of playing for a head coach who was a linebacker himself.
“Being able to be coached by Mike Vrabel, that’s a great thing to be a part of," Long told TitansOnline.com. "I got to know more about him during the Senior Bowl because I had a formal (interview) with the Titans, and to see the way he looks at film, he is really straightforward and is the type of coach who is going to look to make you better, and that’s what I look forward to,”
The feeling is mutual, Vrabel said.
“The guy is an instinctive football player,” Vrabel said. “He loves football, has proven to be a good special teams player.”
Long earned All-America second-team honors by the Associated Press after leading West Virginia with 111 tackles, averaging 9.3 per game. He also led the team in sacks (18) and tackles for a loss (19).
“Just a really, really productive player,” General Manager Jon Robinson said of Long.
Long said he likes the way the Titans play defense, and he’s ready to do his part.
“I will bring a lot of energy, a lot of instinct, and a lot of play-making ability I would say,” Long said. “My play style, I would describe it as instinctive with speed. Just being a part of the (Titans) organization and scheme, I am fired up about it.”
Montgomery used to idolize Bears great Walter Peyton, and Chicago traded up 14 spots to grab him at No. 73 overall.
“He’s just a well-rounded back,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said. “It’s everything you look for in a running back, starting with his instincts, his vision, his ability to make people miss. He’s just a well-rounded player. Good hands. He fits the offense very well.”
“I watched Walter Payton when I was younger,” Montgomery said. “Seeing how he ran, trying to correlate a lot of the ways he ran into my game.”
Montgomery rushed for 2,295 yards and 26 touchdowns during his Iowa State career. He also had 71 receptions for 582 yards, and will fit right in with an offense that throws a lot to the backs.
Montgomery, a quarterback at Mount Healthy, was the Ohio Division III offensive player of the year as a senior in 2015. He rushed for 2,707 yards and 41 touchdowns and threw for 726 yards and seven touchdowns that year.
Montgomery is the second Mount Healthy graduate under coach Arvie Crouch to go to the NFL; the first was Houston Texans defensive lineman Joel Health,a 2011 Mount Healthy graduate.
“They are not only getting a good athlete, they are getting a good person,” Crouch said. "I’m very confident that whoever gets him – he’s going to be a poster child. He’s really going to be a special player.”
Asafo-Adjei (pronounced “ah-SAH-fo ah-JAY”) was the 232nd pick. The 6-5, 315-pounder started at right tackle the past two seasons and was a key cog in an offensive line that blocked for All-American Benny Snell Jr., the first Wildcat to rush for 1,000 or more yards in three straight seasons.
Nicknamed “Big George," he was named the 2014 Anthony Munoz Foundation Offensive Lineman of the Year at Lakota West.