MIAMI — Drafting a player from the University of Miami in the first round has proven to be safe. Not surprisingly, it also has become more common.
The Hurricanes set a record Saturday by having six players selected in the opening round of the draft. They have had 19 first-rounders in the last four years.
"They know where to look when they want talent," said defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, picked 21st overall by the New England Patriots.
Southern Cal set the record with five first-round picks in 1968. Miami matched it two years ago with first-rounders Bryant McKinnie, Jeremy Shockey, Phillip Buchanon, Ed Reed and Mike Rumph.
The Hurricanes broke the mark Saturday with 11 picks to go in the first round.
The Washington Redskins chose Sean Taylor at No. 5, the highest spot for a safety since Eric Turner was taken No. 2 by the Cleveland Browns in 1991.
The Browns — who passed up former Miami player Clinton Portis in 2002 in favor of troubled Boston College running back William Green — then traded up one spot to grab Kellen Winslow Jr. at No. 6, the highest spot for a tight end since Charles Young was picked sixth by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1973.
Jonathan Vilma went 12th to the New York Jets, and fellow linebacker D.J. Williams was taken 17th by the Denver Broncos. The Miami Dolphins traded up a spot to get offensive lineman Vernon Carey with the 19th pick.
"Miami has a very strong tradition of putting out players that end up playing very well in the NFL," Dolphins general manager Rick Spielman said. "That's a credit to that university, and the coaches there that recruit the kids. Nine times out of 10 I would say most of those players are going to be very productive players in the NFL."
With Taylor, Winslow, Vilma, Williams and Carey gone, Wilfork was left wondering how far he would fall. He was upset with the Chicago Bears, the team he thought was going to draft him at No. 14. But the Bears picked Oklahoma's Tommie Harris, leaving Wilfork to drop below two former teammates and to the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots.
Jets general manager Terry Bradway has drafted three Hurricanes in the last four years — receiver Santana Moss in 2001, defensive end Matt Walters in 2003 and now Vilma.
"I'd take more than one from Miami if I could," Bradway said. "That program is so competitive. There's nothing like it. There may be a couple programs in the country like that, but every day these guys are competing against their peers. Santana was very pleased that we made this selection. He and his father were watching the draft together. He let out a pretty good shout I guess."
The Hurricanes have produced 40 first-round picks since 1987, the most in the NFL. They include Edgerrin James, Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp, Leon Searcy, Russell Maryland, Cortez Kennedy, Michael Irvin, Vinny Testaverde — and very few busts.
Given the school's history, Wilfork figures the record won't last long.
"They're going to break that record," Wilfork said. "They're going to shoot for it. We take pride in what we do, especially winning."