Houston, Ugoh Settle For Second Round

FAYETTEVILLE -- For Chris Houston, the National Football League Draft served as a good lesson -- in patience.

After watching his former Arkansas teammate Jamaal Anderson go within the first two hours of the 2007 NFL Draft as the No. 8 overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons, Houston figured his phone would be ringing soon after. Instead, the former Razorback cornerback was forced to wait a little longer than he expected. Projected to be a late first-round pick by most mock drafts, Houston -- who earned second-team all-Southeastern Conference honors in 2006 -- had seen his draft stock rise after an impressive showing at the NFL combine. But when draft day arrived, Houston watched as several interested teams took a pass. Finally, after seeing the first-round picks come and go, Houston got the call. Just like Anderson, it came from the Falcons as Houston was selected with the 41st overall pick and the ninth pick in the second round. "It was hard because I'm sitting there not getting my name called," Houston said. "But I'm in the NFL now and a lot of people don't ever get to this point. I'm the 41st player in the draft and a lot of people can't say that. There's thousands of players out there who will never be able to be one of the top 41 players in the draft." While joining Anderson in Atlanta is sure to be a thrill, Houston had to be somewhat disappointed with missing out on the first round. After all, this was a guy who was getting nothing but rave reviews from most draft experts heading into Saturday. But Houston said ending up with the Falcons helped ease the pain of a long day in front of the television set. "Yeah, it surprised me (to fall out of the first round)," Houston said. "Just watching and not hearing my name called kind of surprised me. But I wanted to go to Atlanta. So when I went to Atlanta it kind of made up for all of that. I've always watched Atlanta and I love it there. So going to Atlanta made up for it." Houston was considered to be one of the top three or four cornerbacks in the 2007 draft, depending on who you asked. And after working out for such teams as New England, Tennessee, the New York Jets and Philadelphia, Houston had to believe his name would be called by no later than late in the first round. Even the ESPN analysts covering the draft kept mentioning Houston's name with almost every pick late in the first round. NFL expert Chris Mortenson had also chimed in earlier in the week, saying 'If (Houston) slips into the top of the second round, he's going to be a bargain.' So when the call didn't come until the ninth pick of the second round, Houston was a tad bit shocked. Arkansas coach Houston Nutt shared his former player's thoughts. "Chris should have been a first-rounder," Nutt said. "I got a lot of questions about him -- could he play zone? -- the last 72 hours before the draft because he played so much man (defense). I just couldn't believe the question because there is no question in my mind, you go back two years ago and watch film, you know he could play zone. It's easier. The guy runs 4.4, 4.3, vertical jumps 40 inches and bench-presses 400 pounds, he's a physical guy. "I thought he was ahead of Batman (Ahmad Carroll at this point), but like I'm going to tell him, it's nothing to be ashamed of." Although Houston might have been slightly disappointed to see his name drop out of the first round, Arkansas offensive tackle Tony Ugoh didn't mind at all. While some mock drafts did have Ugoh projected as a late first round pick just like Houston, most so-called experts believed Ugoh would end up as a second-rounder. That's just what happened, too, when the 6-foot-5, 300-pound ex-Razorback went to the Indianapolis Colts as the 42nd overall pick, one behind former teammate Houston. "I wasn't disappointed," Ugoh said. "It's a blessing just to go. "I'm very fortunate to get picked. In no way, shape or form was I disappointed." Ugoh's only surprise Saturday came when it was the Colts who ended up being the team drafting him. "I didn't even know they were interested until they called me," Ugoh said. "That's a great thing. "They already know how to win championships."

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