BOWLING GREEN — The NFL draft threw Bowling Green State University defensive tackle Chris Jones a curve.
“I was thinking [I would be drafted by] Tampa Bay or the Bears,” Jones said. “I had a workout with the Bears, but I guess they had someone else in mind.
“Then the Texans came along. … I didn’t see it coming, but I’m really happy it did.”
Jones was selected in the sixth round of the draft on Saturday by Houston, which received the pick in trade from St. Louis after the Rams got the pick from Atlanta.
Jones is one of six Mid-American Conference players selected in this year’s draft, which saw Central Michigan offensive lineman Eric Fisher taken with the first pick by Kansas City.
The most notable to local fans is Eric Herman, an Oregon native and Central Catholic graduate. A four-year starting offensive lineman at Ohio, Herman was drafted by the New York Giants in the seventh round with the No. 225 overall selection.
Jones said he talked with Houston defensive line coach Bill Kollar at the NFL combine.
“He watched my film, so he saw how I played,” Jones said. “He said he liked the way I played, and he liked my ‘motor.’
“Then he said he would try to get me on the Texans. I thought it was cool, but I wondered if it would really happen. And here we are two months later, and it came true.”
Jones is the 66th Bowling Green player selected in the NFL draft, and the first since Kory Lichtensteiger was taken by Denver in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. He admitted that as the draft wore down, he was concerned he had not heard his name called.
“After watching the fifth round, I started to wonder if it was going to happen,” Jones said. “Finally, it happened. And all that waiting, all that anxiety and stress was worth it.”
Jones was voted the MAC’s defensive player of the year last season after posting 19.0 tackles for loss, including 12½ sacks. He will join a team that includes J.J. Watt, who was named the NFL’s defensive player of the year last season.
“It’s an honor to be on the same team, the same line, as him,” Jones said of Watt. “To learn from him and study the way he plays will be awesome. I think that will really improve my play.”
Overlooked by major colleges after tearing his ACL as a high school junior, Herman became a cornerstone for the Bobcats as a four-year starter.
The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder — twice named to the All-MAC second team — gained further attention at the NFL combine by lifting 36 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, the most by any offensive draft prospect.
Other MAC draft picks include Kent State offensive guard Brian Winters, who was chosen by the New York Jets in the third round; defensive end Steven Means of Buffalo, who was taken by Tampa Bay in the fifth; and Miami quarterback Zac Dysert, who was chosen in the seventh round by Denver.
Offensive lineman Jordon Roussos, a teammate of Jones at BG, said he would sign a free agent contract with Seattle.
“As a college athlete, usually you have spring ball and lifting to take your mind off things,” Roussos said. “After BG’s pro day, [signing with an NFL team] was all I thought about.
“I’m just so excited to play football again. It’s very surreal.”
The University of Toledo, for the first time since 1977 to 1981, was shut out of the draft for the fifth straight year.
Toledo defensive lineman T.J. Fatinikun of Perrysburg will sign a free agent contract with Kansas City.
Linebacker Dan Molls, the FBS leader in tackles last season, will sign a free agent contract with San Diego.
Ryan Autullo and David Briggs contributed to this report.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.