The smoke has cleared. After three wild days of trades and head-scratching selections, the 2012 NFL Draft is over.
Four Aztecs were selected during the draft and will begin their professional careers in the West.
Running back Ronnie Hillman was the first Aztec to be picked, going in the third round to the Denver Broncos, who traded their third and fourth round picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up and grab the La Habra native.
Hillman, a two-time first-team All-Mountain West Conference player, said he was glad to be a member of the Broncos.
“I’m excited, it’s been my dream to play in the NFL for a while now and I’m just thankful,” Hillman said to Denver-area media. “I’m just going to come in and try to help win; that’s all I can do. I’ll just bring my versatility to the team and being able to create more on offense. I’ll come in and learn from the best.”
Hillman’s selection at No. 67 was the earliest an Aztec has been picked since the Eagles took Matt McCoy No. 63 overall in 2005.
The next San Diego State player to be selected was linebacker Miles Burris, who was taken in the fourth round by the Oakland Raiders.
Burris, also a two-time first-team all-conference member, grew up a Raiders fan.
“I’m about 25 minutes east of Sacramento in a town called Granite Bay,” Burris said in a conference call with Oakland media. “It’s about a two-hour shot to Oakland. I’ve been to some games. It’s just going to be amazing to play on that field and wear a Raider uniform.”
Burris totaled 235 career tackles in 50 games with the Aztecs. This season, Burris totaled 78 tackles, 19.5 for loss, to go along with eight sacks.
SDSU’s all-time leading passer, Ryan Lindley, heard his name called in the sixth round by the Arizona Cardinals.
Lindley, who owns SDSU’s career record for passing yards, touchdown passes, total offense and completions, rejoins former Aztec wide receiver DeMarco Sampson, who was taken by the Cardinals in the 2011 NFL Draft.
“It’s been an incredibly long day, but I’m happy to be an Arizona Cardinal,” Lindley said to Arizona reporters on a conference call. “I think this can be a good fit for me, and I can progress to the point where I can be successful in this league.”
Lindley’s selection comes as a surprise to some people, as the team already has three other quarterbacks under contract.
Defensive lineman Jerome Long was the third Aztec from this draft class to join an AFC West squad. The Kansas City Chiefs’ selection of Long in the seventh round came as a bit of a surprise.
Many analysts had Long going undrafted, despite being a second-team All-Mountain West honoree this season.
The senior, who finished the season with 73 tackles and eight tackles for loss, said he worked out with the Chiefs and knew they were interested.