Dunbar's Arrelious Benn, Virginia's Chris Cook are taken early in second round of 2010 NFL draft

Former Illinois star Arrelious Benn on going to Tampa Bay with the 39th pick:
Former Illinois star Arrelious Benn on going to Tampa Bay with the 39th pick: "I'm a guy that they think they can bring in and be a No. 1 guy." (Jay Laprete/associated Press)
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By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dunbar alum Arrelious Benn left a party at a rented home late Thursday night after enduring four hours of the first round of the NFL draft without hearing his name called by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Benn did not need to wait long in Friday's second round, going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the seventh pick in the round and 39th pick overall.

The Buccaneers so badly wanted Benn that they traded their second-rounder and a fifth-round pick to move up three picks to secure the former Illinois wide receiver, who left after his junior season. Benn became the third wide receiver selected in this year's draft, and joins a team where he will receive the opportunity to immediately contribute.

"It says they wanted me a lot," said Benn, who watched the second round with a group of family and friends at a restaurant in Hyattsville. "I'm a guy that they think they can bring in and be a No. 1 guy, can go in there and do what I need to do to compete."

He received a phone call from Buccaneers Coach Raheem Morris and also spoke to his position coach. Benn expressed his excitement in going down to Tampa and learning the playbook. He is also excited about speaking with quarterback Josh Freeman, who was a first-round pick in 2009.

Minutes before Benn received his phone call, Virginia cornerback Chris Cook became the first player with local connections selected in the second round when the Minnesota Vikings drafted Cook with the No. 34 selection. He watched the draft in his Lynchburg, Va., home with a small gathering of friends and family when his phone rang with Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, among other members of the organization, ready to talk to Cook.

The conversation was short -- the coaching staff wanted Cook to enjoy the moment -- but it was a call he had been envisioning since he was a child.

"I was dreaming about this since I was 6 years old, and it started to become a reality while I was at U-Va. and I'm living it now," Cook said. "I was smiling when I got the phone call, I've been smiling since I got the phone call and I don't think I'll stop smiling for the rest of my career."

Cook missed his junior season because of academic suspension, but he returned with four interceptions during his final season. During the pre-draft process, Cook was asked by NFL teams about his willingness to play safety. He said he would do whatever teams wanted, but considers himself a cornerback and expects to receive the opportunity to play his natural position on a team that reached the NFC championship game.

"They were one win away from making the Super Bowl," Cook said. "It's a great opportunity, and hopefully we can make it back next year and I can help with the two wins they need to win the Super Bowl."

Cook generated interest late in the first round, and the Vikings -- one of the teams that liked Cook -- traded out of the first round for a package that included the early second-round pick. Cook did not know what to expect after the Vikings traded out of the first round, but he had a good feeling he was going to end up in Minnesota.

"A big winter coat and a car," Cook said when discussing his first purchases.

He said the past 48 hours had been stressful, particularly because of the trades and speculation. With the new NFL draft format, both Cook and Benn needed to wait a full day to hear their names.

Later in the second round, former Virginia Tech defensive end Jason Worilds went 52nd overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ex-Penn State and Suitland linebacker Navorro Bowman was taken in the third round (91st pick) by the San Francisco 49ers.

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