HARRISONBURG — Earl Watford was projected as a fourth- or fifth-round NFL draft pick. The James Madison offensive guard went in the fourth.
The Arizona Cardinals selected Watford — a 6-foot-3, 300-pound Division I-AA All-American — with the 116th overall pick and the 19th pick in the fourth round Saturday afternoon.
Watford is the first JMU player to be drafted since 2010 when Arthur Moats and Scotty McGee went in the sixth round. Moats went to the Buffalo Bills, and McGee went to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said in any other year Watford could have been as high as a third-round pick, but a strong class of linemen pushed the Philadelphia native back a round.
ESPN rated Watford, drafted about an hour into the third and final day of the draft, as the 150th-best player in the draft and the 10th-best guard.
He was the second Colonial Athletic Association player taken, following William & Mary cornerback B.W. Webb. The Dallas Cowboys picked Webb with the 114th overall pick (17th in the fourth round), two slots above Watford.