Joe Davidson

James Sample, Vince Mayle cap whirlwind NFL draft for local products

James Sample was a fourth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
James Sample was a fourth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars. AP

The third and final day of the NFL draft wrapped up a spectacular weekend haul of Sacramento-area products.

On Saturday, safety James Sample of Grant High School and Louisville went in the fourth round to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 104th overall. Later in the fourth, receiver Vince Mayle of Inderkum and Washington State was picked by the Cleveland Browns, 123rd overall. They took a circuitous route to the NFL, including community college stops, and their selections followed a whirlwind Thursday night when the region had two local products picked in the first round for the first time since 1983.

Defensive end Arik Armstead of Pleasant Grove and Oregon went 17th to the 49ers and linebacker Shaq Thompson of Grant and Washington was picked 25th by the Carolina Panthers. The longtime pals trained in the offseason together, targeting the same goal of becoming first rounders, nevermind the long odds.

The only other time two area players were selected in the first round of the NFL draft was when quarterbacks Tony Eason of Delta and Illinois and Ken O’Brien of Jesuit and UC Davis were selected by the Patriots and Jets, respectively, in 1983. They were surprise picks amid a quarterback-heavy draft that yielded eventual Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino in the first round.

On Friday, safety Jordan Richards of Folsom and Stanford was drafted in the second round by the Patriots, which surprised him. Richards expected to go in the fifth round.

Sample, like Thompson, Armstead and Richards, was a prep All-American, big on versatility and play-making ability. But he endured shoulder injuries at his first college, Washington, playing just five games over two seasons with the Huskies. He sat out a year to heal while attending American River College and landed at Louisville, the only school to offer him a scholarship. He had fallen that far off the radar.

At Louisville, Sample led the Cardinals with 90 tackles to go along with four interceptions and eight pass breakups.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Sample started just the 2014 season in college and impressed in draft workouts.

“I had a feeling that I was going to go early (Saturday), but I’m just fired up and ready to go,” Sample said. “I feel like I fit in well. It’s a young defense. I feel like I can come in there and make an impact.”

The 6-2, 225-pound Mayle was unsure of what sport he wanted to play coming out of high school. He gave basketball a shot, competing one season at Shasta College in 2009-10, then took a year off to plan his future. He switched to football at Sierra College, where in 2012 he was one of the top recruits in the country.

Mayle had 42 catches for 539 yards as a junior at Washington State and 106 receptions for 1,483 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior.

Mayle was the 17th receiver taken in the draft. He visited with Browns general manager Ray Farmer at the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine and had a predraft visit at the club’s headquarters.

Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.

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