Connor Williams, the former Texas Longhorn, became the newest member of the Dallas Cowboys on Friday night. He dropped to a knee when he got the call and wiped away tears.
A round later, UT linebacker Malik Jefferson was selected by Cincinnati.
Williams, the offensive lineman, dressed in Cowboy blue for the second straight night. He was on hand at AT&T Stadium in Arlington to walk on stage and put on a Dallas hat. He grew up in nearby Coppell, which was a suburb away from the Cowboys’ old offices.
Williams had been projected as a possible first rounder and was one of 22 players invited to attend the draft. He needed to extend his stay by a day. Nine other linemen, including six in the first round, were selected ahead of him.
“My family knew in the back of my mind I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy,” Williams told reporters after he was drafted. “I’ve grown up a fan, and for my name actually to be called and to be able to represent America’s Team is a dream come true.”
Williams played tackle at Texas, but has been projected to move inside in the NFL. He said Friday he’d play either position for the Cowboys. Williams also is the first Longhorn offensive lineman to be drafted in a decade, since Tony Hills was selected by Pittsburgh in the fourth round in 2008.
Jefferson, like Williams, gave up his final year of eligibility to turn pro. He was the 11th linebacker picked in the draft. Jefferson also earned free pizza for a year from a Pizza Hut promotion with the NFL. Jefferson was the 14th player of the third round, which equals 3.14, or pi.
The Houston Texans didn’t have a pick until early in the third. They chose Stanford safety Justin Reid at pick No. 68. Later in the round, the Texans selected Mississippi State offensive lineman Martinas Rankin.
Dallas finished its evening by selecting Colorado State receiver Mike Gallup in the third round.
Oklahoma State receiver James Washington was the second Big 12 player picked in the second round. The former standout from tiny Stamford will be headed to Pittsburgh. Then the Steelers drafted Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third round. The Rudolph-Washington duo had been the most prolific in the nation the last two years.
Jefferson was the fifth Big 12 player taken. OU offensive tackle Orlando Brown was taken two spots later, going to Baltimore. His father, the late Orlando “Zeus” Brown, also played for the Ravens. Baltimore went back to OU later in the round, selecting tight end Mark Andrews.
Meanwhile, how did the Cleveland Browns help out their newest quarterback, Baker Mayfield, and protect their biggest investment of the year?
The team used the first pick of the second round to select Nevada offensive lineman Austin Corbett and then added Georgia running back Nick Chubb at No. 35.
Presumably, those additions will please Mayfield, the Lake Travis High School ex and former Oklahoma Sooner who was the top selection of the entire draft Thursday night. Mayfield was the first walk-on ever to be selected with the top choice of the draft. Coincidentally, Corbett, Cleveland’s second rounder, also was a former walk-on, who blossomed with the Wolf Pack, earning team captain honors by his sophomore year.
In between the Browns’ selections, the New York Giants opted for Texas-El Paso guard Will Hernandez, who had been projected as high as the first round. Hernandez was a four-year starter with the Miners at left guard. And he outperformed most of the other offensive linemen at the NFL scouting combine. His 37 reps in the bench press topped the linemen.
Gil Brandt, the former Cowboys personnel director who now is an analyst with NFL.com, posted on Twitter: “Will Hernandez is one of my favorite players in this draft. Unbelievable value at this point.”
The draft also continued to be an odd one for the state of Texas.
The top three players from in-state schools were from non-Power Five squads UTSA, UTEP and SMU.
Then Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk was drafted by Arizona at No. 47. Kirk, who left school a year early, grew up outside Phoenix and was watching the draft from home. He won’t need to go far for rookie camp.
Kirk had hoped to continue A&M’s recent first-round tradition. The Aggies had produced at least one first rounder since 2011. Only Alabama carried a longer streak into the draft.
Earlier, Marcus Davenport, the defensive end from UTSA, was the 14th selection of the draft. The New Orleans Saints, who traded up from 27th to draft Davenport, loved the guy. Davenport promised Saints fans he would help them achieve big goals.
“I want to shoot big; I want a Super Bowl,” Davenport said on a teleconference with reporters. “I just want to be able to be an impact player and be able to help out any way I can.”
Hernandez, who grew up in Las Vegas, was the second player from an in-state school to go.
Then the Denver Broncos selected Mustangs receiver Courtland Sutton at pick No. 40.
Late in the second round, Oakland selected Sam Houston State defensive tackle P.J. Hall, who hadn’t been invited to the NFL combine.
Mayfield, although he played for OU, was the top Texan.
He left Austin for Cleveland on Friday to visit his new team. He threw out the first pitch for the Cleveland Indians game Friday night. Mayfield’s new jersey was the second-most popular among first rounders selected Thursday night, behind only Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, who went No. 2 to the New York Giants. And going No. 1 overall also secured Mayfield a $300,000 bonus from his trading card deal with contract Panini & Leaf, according to ESPN.
Mayfield, who loves to troll his former opponents on social media, took an apparent dig at the Longhorns in a video posted on the Oklahoma football Twitter page. He said to OU fans: “I love you guys, I appreciate your support. I’m sorry you now have to wear orange but we’re all going to go through it together because we’re a part of the Dawg Pound now.”
Big 12 draft picks
1. Baker Mayfield (OU) Cleveland
50. Connor Williams (Texas) Dallas
60. James Washington (Ok State) Pittsburgh
76. Mason Rudolph (Ok State) Pittsburgh
78. Malik Jefferson (Texas) Cincy
83. Orlando Brown (OU) Baltimore
86. Mark Andrews (OU) Baltimore
89. Joseph Noteboom (TCU) LA Rams