NEW YORK (AP) — Clemson star receiver Sammy Watkins was the common thread early on the final day of the NFL draft Saturday.
Watkins, the fourth overall selection in the first round by Buffalo, saw his older brother, Florida cornerback Jaylen Watkins, taken by Philadelphia to open the fourth round. Philadelphia acquired the selection the previous day from Houston, trading its third-round pick (No. 83) for the Texans’ fourth- and fifth-round spots.
“Today is a very big day for our family,” Jaylen said. “I texted him (Thursday) before he went on stage and he just texted me … we’re both excited for each other. We can’t complain about anything that happened this year for us.”
The next pick, by Washington, was Sammy Watkins’ college teammate, cornerback Bashaud Breeland, who went up against the nation’s top wideout in practice for several years at Clemson.
Watkins’ fellow receiver with the Tigers, Martavis Bryant, also went in the fourth round, to Pittsburgh.
“Sammy, he’s a great player, he’s like my brother,” Bryant said. “I got a lot of love for him, so I’ve never been the type to feel that (jealousy). Everything that the coaches asked me to do I did for the team, and if it was playing behind him then it was playing behind him.”
Andre Williams of Boston College, the nation’s leading rusher, went to the New York Giants, whose backfield has been plagued by injuries. Williams rushed for 2,177 yards and won the Doak Walker Award as America’s top running back in 2013, but he is considered a weak receiver.
“Patience is a really valuable thing,” Williams said. “It worked out the best possible way it could, no matter what round it ended up being.”
Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey, like Williams, an All-American runner, was taken four spots later by Chicago. Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas went to Kansas City, ostensibly to replace departed Dexter McCluster.
National champion Florida State had two players go in the first five picks Saturday: running back Devonta Freeman to Atlanta, and center Bryan Stork, another All-American, to New England.
Big 12 power Oklahoma, which was blanked in the first three rounds, broke through when the New York Jets drafted receiver Jalen Saunders.
While two other powerhouse programs, Texas and Georgia, did not yet have anyone taken, Duke did. When Buffalo made cornerback Ross Cockrell the 109th overall selection, it was the highest a Blue Devil had gone since offensive lineman Lennie Friedman went to Denver in the second round in 1999.
Cockrell thought Duke making the Chick-Fil-A bowl helped his stock.
“I think it opened a lot of eyes that this guy from Duke can actually play a little ball and will be able to compete at the next level,” he said.
The first quarterback to go Saturday was a bit of surprise: inconsistent Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech. Thomas never really improved to the level expected during his career with the Hokies after a strong debut. He’s big, with a strong arm, but is turnover prone.
Going on consecutive picks late in the fifth round were two other star QBs: Aaron Murray of Georgia to Kansas City, and A.J. McCarron of Alabama to Cincinnati. Zach Mettenberger of LSU went in the sixth round to the Titans.
Missouri defensive end/linebacker Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to enter the draft, also is still waiting.
AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi, College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo, and Sports Writer Will Graves contributed to this story.