Surprising picks for Cardinals in Rounds 2-3

The Cardinals switched gears in surprising fashion on day two of the draft, opting for RB Ryan Williams and TE Rob Housler.

From the Cardinals media relations department


* With their second round selection (38th overall), the Cardinals selected RB Ryan Williams out of Virginia Tech. Williams was the second RB taken in the 2011 NFL Draft, selected 10 spots behind former Alabama RB Mark Ingram, taken by the Saints with the 28th pick in the first round.

* After redshirting in 2008, Williams played two seasons with the Hokies and becomes the first sophomore drafted by the Cardinals since Larry Fitzgerald was taken with the third overall selection in 2004.

* In two seasons at Virginia Teach, Williams appeared in 23 games (18 starts). He totaled 2,132 yards and 30 TDs on the ground on 403 carries, averaging 5.3 yards per attempt. He also added 289 yards on 26 receptions (11.1-yard average).

* Williams becomes the fourth RB selected by the Cardinals in the last four NFL Drafts, joining Beanie Wells (1st round, 31st overall, 2009), LaRod Stephens-Howling (7th round, 240th overall, 2009) and Tim Hightower (5th round, 149th overall, 2008).

* Williams prepped at Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, VA. His new teammate, RB Tim Hightower, attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA. Manassas and Alexandria are just 20 miles apart. Both were All-State RBs as juniors, Williams earning the honor in 2006 and Hightower earning the honor in 2002.

* Williams is the highest Virginia Tech player ever selected by the Cardinals. Before his selection with the 38th overall pick, B Herman Dickerson was the highest Virginia Tech player drafted by the Cards, taken with the 63rd overall pick in 1937.

* Williams becomes the eighth Virginia Tech player drafted by the Cardinals and the first since DT Jonathan Lewis in 2006 (6th round, 177th overall).

* Williams is the first offensive player taken by the Cardinals in the second round since 2006, when they took G Deuce Lutui with the 41st overall selection. Prior to Williams, the Cardinals had gone defense in the second round four straight years.

* Williams was the first Virginia Tech player selected in the 2011 NFL Draft and he is the 27th Hokie drafted since 2006.

* At Virginia Tech, Williams was teammates with Cody Grimm, son of Cardinals Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Russ Grimm. Cody Grimm was a rookie safety with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010.

* Along with new teammate (and Cardinals first round draft pick Patrick Peterson), Williams was one of a record 25 players who were on hand at Radio City Music Hall for the 2011 NFL Draft.


* After redshirting in 2008, Williams posted a freshman campaign in 2009 that ranked as one of the best by any freshman runner in college football history. Below is a look at what Williams accomplished during that freshman season in '09:

Williams 2009 Freshman Season

* Rushed for 1,655 yards and 21 TDs on 293 carries (5.7 avg.). His 1,655 rushing yards established a school record, previously set by Kevin Jones in 2003 (1,647). Jones was a Detroit Lions first round pick (30th overall) in 2004.

* His 21 rushing TDs tied Marshall Faulk's (1991) NCAA freshman record and broke the ACC's annual mark, surpassing the previous high of 19.

* His 22 total TDs (21 rushing, 1 receiving) broke the previous conference record of 21, held by Don McCauley (1970) and C.J. Spiller (2009).

* Established an ACC record with 132 points scored.

* Rushed for 100+ yards in ten games, tying a 39-year old conference record held by Don McCauley (1970).

* His 1,835 all-purpose yards (1,655 rushing yards, 180 receiving yards) established an ACC record.

* ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year.

* Semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best RB.


* In the third round, the Cardinals selected Florida Atlantic TE Rob Housler with the 69th overall selection. Housler was the third TE selected in the 2011 Draft behind Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota, 2nd round, 43rd overall) and Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks (St. Louis, 2nd round, 47th overall).

* Housler played collegiately at Florida Atlantic University, whose football program began play in 2001. The Owls moved to the Sun Belt Conference in 2006, the first year they were a full FBS member. Housler is just the second player ever selected out of the school, joining QB Rusty Smith, the Titans 2010 sixth round pick (176th overall).

* According to ESPN, at the 2011 NFL Combine Housler ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds, the fastest time among any TE at the event.

* Taken in the third round, Housler is the highest drafted TE for the Cardinals since the team selected USC's Johnny McWilliams with the 64th selection in 1996.

* Housler began his collegiate career at FAU in 2006 and after playing in 37 games (six starts) over his first three seasons, was a voluntary redshirt in 2009. "It was brought up by my head coach," Housler said of deciding to redshirt in '09. "We just had three seniors that all deserved to start and one of us, me, had a redshirt to burn. It was a difficult decision but I didn't want to look back on it and wish I had taken it. I kind of wanted to take that opportunity to help myself out physically and education-wise by getting my education furthered. That was just something that was a unique situation and I just had to jump at it."

* During his redshirt season in '09, used his speed to work as a scout team QB, RB, WR and TE to help simulate the spread offense.

* In his career at Florida Atlantic, Housler appeared in 49 games (18 starts) and caught 78 passes for 1,228 yards and eight TDs. He added 108 yards and a TD on five carries.

* As a senior in 2010, earned All-Sun Belt second-team honors after posting career-highs in receptions (39), receiving yards (629) and TDs (4).

* Played some of his best football against big-time competition. Against Michigan State in 2010 at Ford Field, had seven catches for 75 yards. Scored two of his four TDs in 2010 against the University of Texas, adding 64 yards receiving against the Longhorns.

* Housler and Cardinals QB John Skelton were both born on the same day (March 17, 1988) in the same town (El Paso, TX).

* Was a standout in track and field at Judson (Converse, TX) High School, competing in the long jump (22'0") and the pole vault (15'8")

* His father, Robert, played college football at Texas El-Paso.


* Rounds 1, 2 and 3 are complete and the final four rounds of the 2011 NFL draft will take place tomorrow. The Cardinals have five picks over the final four rounds, including two picks in round six and a compensatory pick in round seven. The Cardinals acquired an extra sixth round selection from Tampa Bay through Philadelphia in the 2010 trade for G Reggie Wells. Arizona gave up their seventh round selection to the New York Jets in the trade for S Kerry Rhodes.

Round Selection # Overall #
4 6th 103rd
5 5th 136th
6a 6th 171st
6b (From TB via Phi) 19th 184th
7 (Compensatory) 48th 249th

CardinalsSource Top Stories