Football Sports

Three players chosen for NFL draft

Despite being one of the nation's top receivers, UNLV Rebel Devante Davis (81) was efficiently and effectively shut down by junior corner William Jackson (3), catching only one pass for zero yards. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

William Jackson III was drafted to the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the draft. | File photo/The Cougar

Three former Cougars are taking their talents to the next level this fall as they were selected in the 2016 National Football League Draft.

Cornerback William Jackson III, linebacker Elandon Roberts and wide receiver Demarcus Ayers all had standout careers at the University of Houston that have earned them a ticket to play football professionally.

Jackson became the 12th Cougar to ever be taken in the first round of the draft and the first since fellow cornerback D. J. Hayden was selected by the Raiders with the 12th overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Jackson was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 24th pick of the first round. The senior cornerback raised eyebrows in 2015 when he recorded five interceptions and led the nation with 23 passes defensed. Jackson played a pivotal role in helping the Cougars clinch a Peach Bowl victory with his two interceptions.

“He’ll be one of the best athletes we’ve had here at that position,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said in his press conference. “He fits what our defense does.”

Roberts was selected with the 39th pick of the second round by the New England Patriots. The senior linebacker surprised scouts in 2015 with his ability to get to the ball and to stop runs in the back field. Roberts recorded 142 tackles for the Cougars last season as well as six sacks and two forced fumbles.

Ayers was selected shortly after teammate Roberts with the eighth pick of the seventh round. The junior wide receiver had a year of eligibility remaining at UH but decided to forgo his senior season in pursuit of his NFL career.

The 5-foot-10 receiver was the favorite target of quarterback Greg Ward Jr. last year and was a major contributor to the Cougars offensive attack. Ayers caught 97 passes for 1221 yards and six touchdowns in the 2015 season. Showing his versatility, Ayers also dazzled in the run game by accumulating 148 yards and one touchdown on the ground.

Having three players drafted in the 2016 NFL draft marks the most for the Cougars since 1997.

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