Arena game makes inroads with Falcons

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NEW YORK --- The Arena Football League had a presence in Saturday's NFL Draft when Sam Baker , son of AFL commissioner David Baker , was selected in the first round by Atlanta.

The Falcons traded up with Washington to get to 21st overall pick for the Southern California tackle. Earlier in the round, Atlanta took Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan , and now Baker will be among his protectors.

"He said, 'No matter where, don't let your draft position change who you are, whether you're the last pick or the first pick,' " the 6-foot-5, 312-pound Sam Baker said of his father's advice before the draft.

Coincidentally, Falcons owner Arthur Blank also owns the Georgia Force.

"I love it," Sam Baker said. "I've been watching those games since I was about 12 years old. I grew up on it. It is a different game, though. Not everyone who plays in the NFL can play in the arena game."

BY THE NUMBERS: Offensive tackle was the most popular position Saturday. In all, seven were chosen -- and it could wind up being eight if Virginia guard Branden Albert , taken 15th by Kansas City, is moved to tackle.

The run on tackles began with Michigan's Jake Long going first overall to Miami.

Five running backs, five cornerbacks and five defensive ends went in the opening round. For the first time since 1967, no wide receivers were chosen in the first round.

But eight of the first 20 selections in the second round were wideouts.

SPELLING BEE: Jets fans, who are known for shouting their favorite cheer -- "J! E! T! S! JETS! JETS! JETS!" -- at the drop of a hat, are always at the draft in force.

A fan, presumably of a rival team, was spotted holding a sign that read "The J-E-T-S can S-P-E-L-L."


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