Oakland Raiders take Southeast High's Jonathan Dowling in seventh round

adell@bradenton.comMay 11, 2014 

NFL Combine Football

Western Kentucky DB Jonathan Dowling fields passes at the NFL combineASSOCIATED PRESS

MICHAEL CONROY — ASSOCIATED PRESS

BRADENTON -- Jon Dowling isn't concerned that he was selected late in the 2014 NFL Craft because once he gets into camp it won't matter.

The Southeast High product was selected in the seventh round (247th overall pick) by the Oakland Raiders on Saturday.

"I am not disappointed at all about when I was picked. I understand that God has a plan for everything and that was my place to go," Dowling said. "He put me there for a reason, and I feel like it's going to work out the best for me. It was a bit uncomfortable. I had to stop watching it. But like I told everybody, it felt I was waiting forever, but when I got back home I felt like I was the first pick in the draft."

Another area product, Palmetto High product Damian Copeland, was not drafted Saturday. Several media outlets reported that Copeland, a wide receiver from Louisville, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he would join Manatee High product Ace Sanders. Copeland's Twitter account confirmed the report. It read, "Ready for my next journey!! Hungry!! #Jags" late Saturday.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Dowling spent one semester at the University of Florida and left after a fallout with then Gators head coach Urban Meyer.

He played the past two seasons at Western Kentucky and was a Sun Belt Conference first-team selection in 2013.

Dowling is part of a Raiders draft class that gained national notoriety by selecting linebacker Khalil Mack with its first choice and quarterback Derek Carr. Dowling was one of three defensive backs Oakland selected, but the only safety.

Dowling, considered somewhat of a hybrid defensive back, said he expects to be used at safety, but is willing to play cornerback to help the team.

"I feel I am ready to be a Raider. They told me they are ready to have me as part of their organization and they hope I come in to work full speed and everything that has happened in the past is behind me and that we have a clean slate," Dowling said.

The 22-year-old is the second Southeast graduate to play for the Raiders and fourth from Manatee County. Southeast's Mike Jenkins, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, played last season with Oakland, offensive lineman Henry Lawrence of Lincoln High won three Super Bowls with the organization, and Bayshore product Fabian Washington was a first-round draft pick by the Raiders.

"I talked to Mike, and he said he loved it out there and wished me the best of luck," Dowling said. "I know they are looking for defense. Me and Khalil worked out together all spring, and I look forward to seeing him again. I know they have Mr. Charles Woodson, and I am looking forward to learning everything I can from him."

Dowling was rated the best defensive back in the country by one publication coming out of high school and another had him the fifth-best safety in the country.

"Now I am just waiting to get on board and show everybody what I can do," he said. "I feel like it was a blessing to go anywhere in the NFL. Getting drafted is a stepping stone, but that's over and now it's time to put in the work and become a Pro Bowler."

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