Stephen Chernin, Associated Press
Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams responds to questions after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the second round of the NFL football draft at Radio City Music Hall Friday, April 29, 2011, in New York.

NEW YORK — There was a downside to the NFL's decision to invite 25 players to the draft this year. Not all of them were taken in the first round.

That meant some of those left over had to get dressed up again Friday and come back to Radio City Music Hall, where memories were fresh from spending the previous night waiting 3½ hours for a call that never came.

The first player to come out on stage Friday night was Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams, when the Arizona Cardinals took him with the sixth pick of the second round.

Williams, a redshirt sophomore, said he wasn't expecting to go particularly high, but still held out hope Thursday as player after player was taken.

"Yeah, I can't lie, I thought the Redskins would take me," Williams said. "I thought the Atlanta Falcons, until they jumped 21 picks — I knew I wasn't going to go seventh. I wasn't going to lie to myself about that.

"I heard that the Packers needed a running back so I thought they would take me, too. And that's just my fault for listening to everybody and paying attention to those mock drafts and stuff."

Williams felt more confident Friday. He had been told by the Arizona Cardinals that they wouldn't let him fall past their pick, No. 38 overall.

"There was one team that told me that they would get me, and they got me," Williams said.

UCLA safety Rahim Moore was picked shortly after by Denver at No. 45. Halfway through the second round, Kentucky wide receiver Randall Cobb was still backstage.

Williams had tears in his eyes as he exchanged hugs on stage with his exuberant family and friends behind him. Afterward, he sounded as if the wait was worth it.

As Williams pointed out with a grin during his long-awaited news conference at Radio City, the delay meant everyone got to spend another day in New York.

That comment was met with a loud roar from the back of the room, where his family clapped and cheered.


BEEN THERE BEFORE: Each club's pick was announced by a well-known former player from that team. Some were recent — Tennessee's pick was read by Jevon Kearse. Others, less so.

Calling out the Browns' pick of defensive end Jabaal Sheard was former wide receiver Paul Warfield. How long ago was his pick? Cleveland has won an NFL title since then, albeit in his rookie year of 1964.

Other former players included Doug Williams, Dwight Clark and Barry Sanders.

Sanders received a roaring ovation and read the Lions' pick of wide receiver Titus Young before the hubbub even died down.


LONG WAY DOWN: No one had farther to fall than Da'Quan Bowers. The Clemson defensive end was once projected as a top-five pick.

A knee injury appeared to scare teams off, though. Bowers had a small meniscus tear in his knee in October, but waited until the end of the season to have surgery.

He had to wait out all of Thursday's first round and 18 picks Friday.

Finally, Bowers was taken at No. 51 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bowers certainly had the numbers to deserve his earlier projection. At 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, he led the nation with 15½ sacks.

That year came after a difficult offseason for Bowers, who lost his father, Dennis, in August during Clemson's summer camp. In January, Bowers' mentor, former Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams, died suddenly.

Bowers used the deaths as inspiration this season. His sack total broke Adams' mark for Tigers defensive linemen.

Bowers won the Nagurski Award as the top defensive player and the Ted Hendricks Award as the country's top defensive end.

BRAIN POWER: The first round of the NFL draft featured four National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athletes — the most in the 52-year history of the scholar-athlete program. They are Florida State QB Christian Ponder (No. 12, Vikings, 3.73 GPA), Colorado OT Nate Solder (No. 17, Patriots, 3.51 GPA), Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo (No. 22, Colts, 3.45 GPA) and Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod (No. 32, Packers, 3.54 GPA).

FIRST-ROUND FACTOIDS: This year marked the first time since the start of the common draft in 1967 that a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback has gone No. 1 overall in consecutive years. The Carolina Panthers took Cam Newton on Thursday, after Sam Bradford, the 2008 Heisman winner, went No. 1 last year to the St. Louis Rams. ... Ten Heisman winners have gone No. 1 overall since 1967: O.J. Simpson, Jim Plunkett, Earl Campbell, Billy Sims, George Rodgers, Bo Jackson, Vinny Testaverde, Carson Palmer, Bradford and Newton. ... The four quarterbacks chosen among the first 12 picks — Newton (1), Jake Locker (8), Blaine Gabbert (10) and Christian Ponder (12) — were the most QBs taken in the top 12 since five went in 1999. Those five were Tim Couch (1), Donovan McNabb (2), Akili Smith (3), Daunte Culpepper (11) and Cade McNown (12).