NEW YORK — Even as Ryan Williams was bear-hugging Roger Goodell at the draft Friday, the NFL was back in position to shut down all other business.
The Virginia Tech running back waited in a side room at Radio City Music Hall for 37 picks. Arizona finally called his name at the sixth spot in the second round — moments before the league was granted a temporary stay against an injunction that blocked its lockout of players.
The teary-eyed Williams embraced the commissioner and former Cardinals cornerback Aenaes Williams, who made the announcement. Ryan Williams' family and friends followed him on stage — about two dozen people in all — surrounding him and Goodell in a sea of celebratory supporters.
They had no idea Williams might not be allowed to report to the team if the lockout is reinstated while a court in St. Louis hears the league's appeal.
"When I went to visit, they told me I would not slip past pick No. 38," Williams said, his eyes still wet. "And I respect them 100 percent."
Williams left school with two years of eligibility remaining. He rushed for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 5.6 yards per carry, as a redshirt freshman in 2009, but was limited by a hamstring injury last season.
"The passion that I play with separates myself from a lot of people on the job," he said.
He said the prolonged stay wasn't that bad for his family and friends because "they got another day out in New York."
Earlier, the fans' mood over the labor dispute hadn't changed as, for the second straight night, they showered Goodell with boos. And that was well before the most recent court decision.
Two high-profile quarterbacks preceded Williams and his entourage to the stage.
Cincinnati selected TCU quarterback Andy Dalton. The Bengals' incumbent, Carson Palmer, has demanded a trade, and the addition of Dalton could pave the way for Palmer's exit — whenever the league allows it.
"We spent a lot of time on this, no question," coach Marvin Lewis said. "It's a big, important, important pick, important piece."
San Francisco immediately traded up with Denver to get the next spot and select the next QB: Colin Kaepernick of Nevada. Kaepernick also was an outstanding baseball prospect, a former pitcher with a powerful arm.
Kaepernick was watching the draft with his family in Turlock, Calif., about a two-hour drive from the 49ers' practice facility in Santa Clara. He was so excited he was contemplating making the drive immediately — even though he might be turned away when he gets there.1 comment on this story
"That just makes it that much easier for my family, friends to come and see me," Kaepernick said. "I know everybody in Reno was hoping I went to the 49ers as well. For me, it was the perfect pick."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick pulled a surprise to begin the round: He stood still.
Given their willingness to trade down every year, the Patriots heard from several teams interested in that slot before taking Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling. Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett announced the pick.
Dowling said he had no private workouts for the Patriots.
"I don't think you should be surprised at where you want to go," he said.