The Dallas Cowboys have nabbed a full-time college basketball player in this year’s NFL Draft.
As strange as that may sound, Rico Gathers garnered attention from several teams before going off the board as the 217th overall pick in the sixth round Saturday. Standing at 6-foot-7 and 276 pounders, the native of LaPlace looks the part of a pro tight end despite not playing football since he was 13.
Gathers instead opted to play basketball at Riverside Academy, where he became a consensus top-50 recruit before committing to Baylor. He was a standout on the hardwood for the Bears, leading the Big 12 in rebounding as a junior.
Gathers is hardly the first basketball player to try his hand at the NFL — Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates, the latter of which also didn’t play college football, developed into All-Pro tight ends.
“I don’t have a clue if he can play,” ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay said during the broadcast. “We’ve seen this before. It’ll be very interesting to see if Gathers can become the next productive tight end who played basketball.”
Jeff Driskel, QB, Louisiana Tech
Jeff Driskel’s journey to the NFL took an unexpected detour, but he made it there all the same.
The San Francisco 49ers spent a sixth-round pick on the former Florida and Louisiana Tech quarterback, who was the 207th overall choice in this year’s NFL Draft on Saturday. Driskel went off the board sooner than many projected.
He started 20 games in three years for the Gators before he became a graduate transfer to Louisiana Tech in 2015. Driskel started all 13 games last season, passing for 4,033 yards and 27 touchdowns with only eight interceptions.
CBSSports.com’s scouting report claims the 6-foot-4, 234-pound quarterback “reinvented himself” during his one season in Ruston. Despite his turnaround, the website still projected Driskel as a seventh-rounder or an undrafted free agent.
Harlan Miller, CB, Southeastern Louisiana
The Southeastern Louisiana football team just made another splash in the NFL Draft.
Cornerback Harlan Miller became the second former Lion drafted in the last four years, going to the Arizona Cardinals with the 205th overall pick in the sixth round Saturday. He followed cornerback Robert Alford, the Atlanta Falcons’ second-round pick in the 2013 draft.
Miller and Alford are the only two Southeastern players to be drafted since the program returned from a 17-year hiatus in 2003.
The Kentwood native made a game-high seven solo tackles at the Senior Bowl in January, where he was named Defensive Player of the Week. But Miller is only 6-foot, 182 pounds, a notable lack of size that concerned many scouts.
Yet CBSSports.com still pegged Miller as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. He defended 14 passes and picked off four balls last year, giving him at least three interceptions in his final three seasons in Hammond.
The second team All-FCS defensive back can also contribute on special teams — he earned All-Southland Conference honors as a punt returner in 2015.
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech
The Baltimore Ravens picked former Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon with the 36th pick in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft on Saturday.
He became the second Bulldog drafted this year after the Carolina Panthers used their first-round pick on defensive tackle Vernon Butler on Thursday night. Dixon rewrote the school record books during his prolific college career as a four-year starter.
The Strong, Arkansas, native rushed for 72 touchdowns and 4,480 yards at a rate of 5.6 yards per carry. His 87 total touchdowns are second-most in NCAA history behind only Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds (88), and he tied another NCAA record by scoring a touchdowns in 38 games.
Dixon, who stands at 5-foot-10 and 213 pounds, was an all-conference selection each of his four seasons at Louisiana Tech.
Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
The Dallas Cowboys selected dual-threat Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott with the 135th overall pick in the fourth round during the final day of the NFL Draft on Saturday.
The Haughton native was a two-time All-American, bursting onto the scene in 2014 when he guided the Bulldogs to their first No.1 ranking in school history and an Orange Bowl berth. The 6-foot-2, 226-pound quarterback holds 38 school records, which he claimed over 49 career games.
Prescott is one of only four FBS players to pass for more than 70 touchdowns and rush for more than 40 touchdowns. His 11,897 total yards are third most in Southeastern Conference history.
Despite being named the 2016 Senior Bowl’s Most Outstanding Player, a DUI arrest in March and concern about his ability to run a pro-style offense damaged his draft stock.
CBSSports.com projected Prescott as a fourth-to-fifth round selection, though he watched as Jacoby Brissett and Cody Kessler, two quarterbacks ranked beneath him on many draft boards, were taken before him late in the third round Friday night.
Trey Caldwell, CB, Louisiana Monroe
The Louisiana-Monroe football team had a player of its own drafted when the Cleveland Browns picked cornerback Trey Caldwell with the 173rd overall pick in the fifth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday.
A two-time All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention selection, Caldwell recorded 143 tackles and two interceptions over his four-year college career.
The 5-foot-9, 188-pound defensive back had his best season as a senior, making 52 tackles (41 solo) with 10 pass breakups. His lone 2015 interception came in the season finale against New Mexico State, a fourth-quarter pick-six that lifted the Warhawks to a 42-35 win.