Punter Michael Dixon and safety DeShon Elliott became the third and fourth Texas players selected in the 2018 NFL Draft when they were taken by the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens, respectively (photos courtesy of texassports.com, graphic by Horns Illustrated).
By Steve Lansdale
AUSTIN, Texas — Another day of the draft, and more Longhorns are headed into the NFL.
Punter Michael Dickson and safety DeShon Elliott became the third and fourth Texas players chosen this year. Connor Williams was selected in the second round — as a guard — by the Dallas Cowboys and linebacker Malik Jefferson was grabbed in the third round by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Dickson was chosen in the fifth round, becoming the first punter drafted in the top 150 selections in any draft since Jacksonville selected Bryan Anger (now in Tampa Bay) was chosen in the third round (70th overall) of the 2012 draft. Elliott was drafted with the 16th pick in the sixth round, with the 190th overall selection, by the Baltimore Ravens.
"I was shaking when I got the call," Dickson said. "It didn't really register. Everything just happened so quickly. (Seattle) was my first choice if I hadn't been drafted, so to go there, I'm just pumped. I got along really well with the special teams coach and just really love that team. I think they're a great team, and I want to be able punt for a team like that."
The Seahawks’ selection of Dickson is something of rarity, as punters often go to the NFL as undrafted free agents.
"The GM called me and they said they were going to select me and they had traded up to get me," Dickson said. "I couldn't even really comprehend it at all. I was just going along with the flow of the conversation and it was all sinking in. Then it came on the TV 10 minutes later and it was surreal."
Texas head coach Tom Herman said the Seahawks were wise to look beyond the disdain NFL teams often show for the idea of spending a draft pick on a punter.
"The impact he made from the punter position is truly amazing," Herman said. "He's a guy that can absolutely flip the field on every punt. Not only can he kick it 60 or 70 yards with unbelievable hang time but his accuracy and ability to drop punts deep inside opponents' territory is uncanny. The Seahawks added a special teams weapon who will punt for a long time in the NFL."
Elliott’s selection is the third for a Texas player in the 2018 draft, after Connor Williams was chosen (as a prospective guard) by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round and linebacker Malik Jefferson was snagged in the third round by the Cincinnati Bengals.
"(Baltimore general Manager) Ozzie Newsome is who called me and told me they were going to pick me and that I was going to be a Baltimore Raven," Elliott said. "At that I point, I really just started crying even more. Then he put me on the phone with coach (John) Harbaugh and the defensive coordinator and the safeties coach. It's just a blessing, and I can't believe I'm living out my dream to play in the NFL.
Elliott was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award — given annually to the nation’s top defensive back — in 2017 and earned first-team All-America honors after pulling in six interceptions, which tied for the seventh-highest single-season total in UT history.
"DeShon is a playmaker who did great things for us last year," head coach Tom Herman said. "He's a big, physical and athletic safety who has a nose for the ball and he's a guy who will come up and hit you. The Ravens got an impact player in the secondary who has bright future ahead of him."
In Baltimore, Elliott joins a team that was the long-time home of Hall-of-Fame safety Ed Reed and now has a pair of veteran safeties from whom he can learn, in Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson.
"Being able to play in Baltimore with a tremendous organization and wonderful fan base and to be able to learn from Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson and all the vets and grow as a player and a leader for the organization, it's a dream come true," Elliott said. "I want to be able to help them to a lot of wins and win championships. I'm just happy to be part of the organization, and I can't wait to get to work."