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Undrafted LB Brown, other Illini pursue NFL dreams
For only the second time in more than four decades, the University of Illinois did not have a single player’s name called during the NFL draft. Illinois joined Northwestern as the Big Ten’s only schools without a 2014 draft pick.
The Illini were widely seen as having only one potential pick, linebacker Jonathan Brown. But Brown, after struggling mightily at the combine in Indianapolis, couldn’t crack the NFL 256. He signed Saturday evening as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals, according to Illini coach Tim Beckman.
Also signing as free agents: wide receiver Ryan Lankford with the Miami Dolphins and tight end Evan Wilson with the Dallas Cowboys.
Wilson told the Sun-Times that his free-agent options came down to the Cowboys, Texans and Jaguars. He chose Dallas in part because Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is in the later stages of his career and the team wants to limit Witten’s practice reps.
“It’s definitely Dallas or bust,” Wilson said. “My mindset is on making that team, trying to get on that roster.”
Wilson, who watched every minute of Saturday’s televised draft coverage with his mother in Woodstock, Ga., described himself as confident in what he can bring to the Cowboys.
“The same thing I gave the University of Illinois — a consistent blocker, someone willing to do the dirty work, may not catch a lot of balls but a consistent blocker and a really good red zone target,” he said.