Western Kentucky junior safety Jonathan Dowling became the second Hilltopper selected in the 2014 NFL Draft on Saturday, heading to the Oakland Raiders with the 247th overall pick in the seventh round.
Dowling was picked just nine spots from the end of the draft and said he stopped watching in the late rounds, opting to pass the time in the backyard while checking his phone.
“It’s just a blessing, man,” Dowling said. “Just a blessing. I really want to thank everybody at Western for giving me a second chance and believing in me. It feels good.”
Dowling – a 6-foot-3-inch, 190-pound prospect – joins WKU linebacker Andrew Jackson, who was drafted by Indianapolis in the sixth round. It’s the first time the Tops have had two picks in the same draft since Joseph Jefferson and Mel Mitchell were selected in 2002.
This is the eighth time WKU has had multiple draft picks but just the second time since 1991.
“It’s really good,” Dowling said. “We both worked hard and knew we would play, so it’s great that we both got our chance.”
Dowling had 135 tackles, nine interceptions and eight forced fumbles over two years with WKU after transferring to the Hill from the University of Florida, where he was dismissed as a freshman. He was a four-star high school prospect out of Bradenton, Fla.
NFL.com grades him a 5.32, which projects as “NFL backup or special teams potential.”
NFL.com’s scouting report praised Dowling’s height, length and playmaking ability, but questioned his tackling fundamentals, durability and character.
Dowling is the first WKU player to be drafted by Oakland.
“I feel like it’s going to be a good fit,” Dowling said. “I honestly felt like I would’ve been a good fit anywhere, and I’m just ready to work. I’m glad I’ve got some people who really want me, and I think it’s going to work out good. I’m going to try to learn everything I can from Charles Woodson.”