Two more Missouri players heard their names called Saturday on the final day of the NFL Draft.
St. Louis’ love for former Missouri players continued Saturday when the Rams selected wide receiver Bud Sasser with the 201st overall selection in the sixth round. New Orleans snapped up running back/return specialist Marcus Murphy with the 230th pick in the seventh round.
The six total selections, if former Tigers wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham is included, are the most since six players were drafted in 2009.
Seven Tigers were selected in the 1981 draft, including Wendell Ray, father of Kansas City native Shane Ray, who was picked 23rd overall by the Denver Broncos.
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Missouri, which has had at least one player drafted every season since 2005, now has had 34 players selected during the Gary Pinkel era.
Sasser, a native of Denton, Texas, led the Tigers with 77 receptions for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
He is the 11th MU player selected by St. Louis teams in the history of the draft and third in the last two seasons.
“I’m glad I can stay in Missouri,” Sasser said. “That was awesome. I know a lot of Mizzou fans from there and that’s just so cool to be a part of that organization now. I’m so ready to get to work with coach (Ray) Sherman (Rams receivers coach) and the whole group of guys. I’m just too excited right now.”
The Rams picked cornerback E.J. Gaines, a Fort Osage graduate, in the sixth round and defensive end Michael Sam in the seventh round last season.
Gaines proved to be a steal for St. Louis last season. He started 15 games, totaling 70 tackles with two interceptions and 14 passes defended.
Sasser hopes for the same magic.
“I’m not making any promises,” he said. “I’m looking to go in there and just work my tail off. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Former Missouri center Tim Barnes also plays for St. Louis, which signed T.J. Moe for a stretch last season.
With Green-Beckham’s sudden dismissal from the program last spring, Sasser emerged as quarterback Maty Mauk’s favorite target, especially down the field.
It was Sasser’s 41-yard reception at South Carolina that sparked the largest fourth-quarter comeback in program history, a key win in the Tigers’ defense of the SEC East division title.
Last season, Sasser, who has massive 10 1/8-inch hands to go with a 6-foot-2 and 220-pound frame, became MU’s first 1,000-yard receiver since Moe in 2010.
Sasser, a second-team All-SEC pick, ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash at MU’s Pro Day, where he also posted a personal-record 10-foot broad jump.
He was penciled in to start in the slot, which is where he might wind up in the NFL, before moving outside to replace Green-Beckham, who was selected Friday by Tennessee in the second round.
Green-Beckham and Sasser are the first wide receivers who played at Missouri drafted since the Chiefs’ Jeremy Maclin went No. 19 overall to Philadelphia in 2009.
Murphy, who was a first-team All-SEC pick as a return specialist and all-purpose player, brings versatility to the Saints and was thrilled to hear his name called, even if it was late in the day.
New Orleans missed Olathe North graduate Darren Sproles’ return skills and pass-catching out of the backfield after trading him to Philadelphia last season.
It’s a lofty comparison, but Murphy doesn’t shy away from it. He actually embraces it.
“Darren Sproles was a great fit within the offense and special teams, and I watched a lot of film on him,” Murphy said. “I just want to come out and contribute however I can, for both offense and special teams. He did a lot of great things for the organization, so I have some big shoes to fill just trying to compare myself to him. I would just watch film on him and try to come out and do the best I can.”
Murphy, who ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at MU’s Pro Day, isn’t as fast as Sproles, but he brings some of the same skills with his experience as a running back, receiver and return specialist.
Murphy, a native of DeSoto, Texas, is Missouri’s all-time leader with seven career return touchdowns (four punts and three kickoffs) and ranks second behind Maclin with 5,112 career all-purpose yards.
Denver selected outside linebacker Ray in Thursday’s first round, and two more MU players were chosen in the second round, Mitch Morse by the Chiefs and Markus Golden by Arizona.
Former Tigers defensive tackle Lucas Vincent, an Olathe North graduate, signed as a free agent with Tennessee. The Titans envision Vincent, who had 43 tackles, with eight for a loss and 3 1/2 sacks, as a three-technique.
Wide receiver Jimmie Hunt signed with Green Bay as a free agent. He had 40 catches for 698 yards and seven touchdowns last season.