Virginia Tech tailback Ryan Williams and Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling couldn’t have asked for much better draft destinations Friday.
Dowling went to perennial contender New England with the first pick of the second round. Williams headed to Arizona five selections later.
The Cardinals were 5-11 last season, but two years prior reached their first Super Bowl. Moreover, they need help at running back after ranking last in 2010 in rushing offense.
On the team’s website, coach Ken Whisenhunt said Arizona ranked Williams the draft’s No. 15 prospect. The Cardinals got him at No. 38.
“Let's face it guys,” Whisenhunt said. “We were 5-11 last year. We've got to get better as a football team. When you take the best players available in your opinion -- we put a lot of work into this -- we become a better football team.”
Williams joins a crowded backfield that includes Beanie Wells and University of Richmond alum Tim Hightower, whose contract is expiring.
“I know it’s a crowded backfield, but I will do my best to get on the field and help this team win,” Williams said.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay calculated that Williams fumbled five times in 429 touches at Tech, once in 120 this past season. That was part of Williams’ appeal to Whisenhunt.
“I like that, since it's certainly been an issue for our running backs the last couple of years,” the coach said.
Meanwhile, Dowling joins a Patriots team that ranked 30th last season in pass defense. He could certainly challenge for playing time as a nickel corner.
“It's a great organization,” Dowling said of New England, 14-2 in 2010. “I think everybody knows that. They win year in and year out. And nothing else is expected [other] than winning. And they do things right there.”
Among the staples of the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick is giving us media magpies as little material as possible. The always pleasant but reticent Dowling will fit right in.
I counted 12 “sirs” and one “ma’am” on his teleconference transcript.
“I'll just come in and just work hard everyday, learn something from each one of those guys because they've done something that I haven't done before: play a down in the NFL,” Dowling said. “So, that's one thing I really want to learn bits and pieces from each one of those guys and just come work hard everyday.”
Does Dowling have a preference how the team deploys him?
“Whatever the Patriots want me to do, sir.”