Texans were flying off the board in the second round of the NFL Draft on Friday.
The Houston Texans grabbed TCU’s Ross Blacklock, the Philadelphia Eagles snatched up Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and the Baltimore Ravens corralled La Grange’s J.K. Dobbins, who played at Ohio State.
Oddly enough, none were actually from Texas — or even Texas A&M, for that matter.
Finally in the third round, UT’s Brandon Jones broke through and found himself on the phone with Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier. “We enjoyed watching you play, the passion you play with,” Grier told Jones. “We’re going to make you a Miami Dolphin, all right?”
“We love the passion you play with.”
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) April 25, 2020
Jones was the nation’s No. 1-rated safety recruit coming out of Nacogdoches, and he blossomed into a team captain with the Longhorns. Now, he’s headed to Miami as the 70th overall pick with a chance to help the Dolphins’ rebuilding project.
“I literally had just gone upstairs to use the restroom, and I was halfway up the staircase,” Jones said. “I didn’t know who was on the board at the time and I got a call from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“I answered it and talked to the coach and the GM, and I was legit speechless,” he added. “I was shocked. Everybody downstairs thought it was a prank call.”
A dozen picks later, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was seen sitting on his couch pumping his fist after drafting Texas receiver Devin Duvernay. It’s likely to be a track meet in Baltimore next season as Dobbins and Duvernay become enticing targets for NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.
“In Devin, they’re getting a fierce competitor,” Texas coach Tom Herman said in a statement. “This a guy who I describe as someone who plays angry. He would rather run through you than around you.”
Just ask LSU’s Grant Delpit, a second-round pick with the Cleveland Browns.
“What’s up Ravens Flock. Super excited to be a part of this team,” Duvernay said in a video posted by the Ravens. “Can’t wait to get to work, and can’t wait to get to Baltimore.”
Two Longhorns, arguably two of the most well-liked players on the 2019 squad, are both headed to good situations to begin their NFL careers.
Jones immediately called Herman via FaceTime to celebrate the good news. His former teammates at UT were going wild, too. “I’m proud of you, bro. I love you to death,” Kris Boyd said in a video posted on Twitter. “I can’t wait until we live our dream together and get that jersey swap.”
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper raved about the Dolphins’ pick calling it a “real nice pick at that point in the third round.”
“I watched a lot of games this year and he looked like a mid second-rounder so you’re getting pretty good value here with a real versatile safety, athletic safety in Brandon Jones,” Kiper said.
Jones impressed NFL scouts by studying about four games of all 32 teams and creating a binder. Considering that Jones had shoulder surgery in January, he wasn’t able to workout for teams before the coronavirus pandemic stopped everything.
“It sucks, but it’s something that we can’t control,” Jones told the American-Statesman in March. “You kind of just have to play your cards how they are.”
Still, Jones has flashed football savvy for years. As a freshman in 2016, Jones blocked two punts and left his mark on special teams while playing 12 games. The next year, he moved into a starting role and had 61 tackles.
In 2018, Jones had one of his best moments at Texas when he raced to the boundary and slammed USC’s Stephen Carr out of bounds on fourth-and-goal. That play energized Royal-Memorial Stadium, sparked the Horns and ignited a 37-14 win.
He was clocked at running 23 miles per hour on a play that lasted just a few seconds.
“As soon as I saw him block down, I saw the sweep,” Jones said afterward. “My first instinct was I had to beat him before he gets to the end zone. I just ran as fast as I could.”
Jones finished his UT career with 233 tackles and four interceptions.
“He is the best open-field tackler that I’ve ever coached,” Herman said in a statement. “He gets them on the ground one way or another. He can come downhill and hit you in the run game, but can also roam center field and is extremely fast.”
Jones’ selection actually started a run on athletes from the Lone Star state. Immediately after Jones, Texas A&M’s Justin Madubuike was taken 71st overall by the Ravens. Then, Houston’s Josh Jones was grabbed 72nd by the Arizona Cardinals.
Jordan Elliott, who began his college career at Texas but ended up at Missouri, went 88th overall to the Cleveland Browns. Then, Duvernay heard his name called four picks later, 92nd overall.
Duvernay’s legend of “never dropping a pass” will become legendary as the years go by. There’s a lot of truth in it, though. What should be remembered is how Duvernay had the humility to change positions at Herman’s suggestion before training camp opened his final season.
"He's someone who can ALWAYS come up with the big play."
With pick No. 92, we have selected @Dev_Duv5‼️
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) April 25, 2020
Coaches asked Duvernay to switch from outside receiver to the slot. That’s where he became a star. Duvernay had 1,082 receiving yards his first three seasons at UT. He had 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior. He finished with 176 career receptions, eighth-most in school history.
“He’s also built like a running back, and we played him in the backfield a little bit, too,” Herman said. “He’s a guy that can do it all and certainly did for us this past season.”
Duvernay will see plenty of friendly faces in Baltimore. The Ravens have a slew of Texas exes, like Justin Tucker, Earl Thomas and DeShon Elliott on the roster.
The NFL draft continues with rounds 4-7 on Saturday. Texas receiver Collin Johnson and defensive end Malcolm Roach are among those looking to get the call.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email email@example.com.