NFL Draft Football

Louisiana State cornerback Greedy Williams walks the red carpet ahead of the first round at the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) ORG XMIT: TNMS1

Greedy Williams missed the call at first.

The former LSU cornerback reached for his phone on the crowded couch in Shreveport, surrounded by dozens of family members.

It was the call he'd been waiting for since he left Nashville, Tennessee, the night before, where waited in the NFL draft green room, dressed in a red suit, as 32 names were called in the first round that weren't his.

The wait continued Friday night, when the second round commenced. Seven other cornerbacks were taken before the 6-foot-2, 182-pound Williams, who was named one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2018.

Washington's Byron Murphy to the Arizona Cardinals at pick No. 33.

Central Michigan's Sean Bunting to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 39.

Vanderbilt's Joejuan Williams to the New England Patriots at No. 45.

Reporters, fans and LSU teammates openly questioned Williams' fall.

"R U SERIOUS ?" LSU nickel safety Kary Vincent tweeted.

Then, the call came. Williams' girlfriend noticed, and he quickly called the number back.

"It was Cleveland," Williams told The Advocate on Friday evening.

Williams was quickly transferred to Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey.

"He told me he's putting the call in right now, so get ready to be a Brown," Williams said.

Another transfer. This time, it was Cleveland's first-year head coach, Freddie Kitchens.

"(Kitchens) asked if I could play in the cold," Williams said. "I said, 'That ain't nothing to a kid like me.' He said, 'All right, we're going to get you up here very soon.’ ”

The ABC telecast showed Williams cup his hands to his face, while family members leaned in to put their arms around him.

The journey to the NFL was complete.

"We're finally here, me and my family," Williams said. "I'm ready to just go to Cleveland and put in work, man. Just happy to be a part of the NFL."

The Williamses had come a long way, much of it because of the game Greedy began playing at age 5, which is how his mother, Lakesha, met Lonnie Bryant, the little league coach who helped the family move from the poverty-stricken neighborhoods of Allendale and Cooper Road.

Williams became a member of the heralded Calvary Baptist secondary named the "No Fly Zone," leading the team to state championships in 2013 and 2014, and once he finished his redshirt sophomore season at LSU, he declared early for the NFL draft and skipped out on the Fiesta Bowl to avoid injury and secure a path to a life-changing contract in the NFL.

"We all call him our hero," Lakesha said Wednesday. "It's just sacrificing that body and things like that. It's been able to get his family in a great position. We're going to support him like we've been doing since he was 5."

Williams, a Shreveport native who started all 23 games he played at LSU, was projected by many to be selected No. 29 by the Kansas City Chiefs — but the Chiefs traded their pick to the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday.

The Seahawks selected TCU defensive lineman L.J. Collier.

Only one cornerback was selected in the first round. The New York Giants selected Georgia's Deandre Baker at No. 30, the cornerback who beat out Williams for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2018.

It was the fewest cornerbacks drafted in the first round since at least 2000.

"Oh yes definitely, I was surprised," said Baker, who said there are four or five cornerbacks remaining he thinks should be selected in the second round. "I thought more corners would come out in the first round. But I was the only one, so I'm just blessed it was me."

Williams slipped in mock drafts in the pre-draft process. For example, Kiper's first mock draft in January pegged Williams to be drafted No. 4 overall by the Oakland Raiders. In his next latest mock draft, Kiper said the buzz surrounding Williams questionable tackling and inconsistent coverage — despite his 4.37-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine — dropped him to late first round.

"I'm not afraid to tackle," Williams said at LSU pro day. "I just never have really been in a position to make a big tackle. I'm always in man-to-man. They understood where I was coming from. ... Like I told the scout: 'Put me in a Cover 2 and let that tight end run in that zone, and I'll show you what I can do.’ ”

Once the Browns drafted Williams, ESPN analyst Booger McFarland, the former LSU defensive tackle, weighed in.

"I know there are questions about his physicality, whether he wants to come up and tackle," McFarland said on the ABC telecast. "I get that. But when you want to play in this league now, where they throw the football 65 percent of the time, you better have some guys that can cover, and I think Greedy Williams can do that.”

Back at the Browns team facility, Cleveland's Dorsey addressed the tackling concerns.

"He's playing in the hardest conferences there are in college football," Dorsey said at the team's news conference. "I think he holds up very well. I have no problem with his tackling. He'll get you there. Corners are paid to cover. And the tackling aspect? Just get the guy down."

And for Greedy? All of those questions? All of those players picked before him?

"It's a great fit. I'm happy for everybody," Williams said.

It all might as well be water under Hope Memorial Bridge in Cleveland, where Williams will join former LSU wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry — future teammates that Williams would say in his NFL draft conference call that he'd go to the Super Bowl with next year.

"I know those guys, they're ready to get me well-equipped and ready to cover them, too," Williams said. "I'm going to lock down anybody if I can shut down them two."

Suddenly, there was murmuring in the background inside Williams' home.

Beckham had called.

Williams called back.