University of Kansas

KU defensive end Dorance Armstrong picked by Dallas Cowboys in NFL draft

Dorance Armstrong Jr. impressed the Dallas Cowboys at the NFL combine. On Saturday, they picked the KU standout in Round 4.
Dorance Armstrong Jr. impressed the Dallas Cowboys at the NFL combine. On Saturday, they picked the KU standout in Round 4. AP

Just before stretching for Saturday's spring showcase, the Kansas football team learned that former defensive end Dorance Armstrong had been selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.

So Kansas coach David Beaty gave him a FaceTime call.

Armstrong answered, and Beaty held up the phone to show former teammates in the background erupting in celebration.

"I think he was pretty moved when he saw our guys jumping up and down," Beaty said. "We couldn't even talk to him because everybody was screaming, and he was just smiling. He had the biggest smile on his face."

Armstrong, a Houston native, was taken by Dallas with the 116th pick.

"It feels great to be a Cowboy," Armstrong said. "My journey, it’s been real crazy, real busy. The wait is finally over."

The selection comes slightly later than where Armstrong was projected when he first announced he was forgoing his senior year in January. At that point, had him slated as a second- or third-round pick. One thing that might have held Armstrong back was his 40-yard dash time, which was 4.87 seconds at the NFL combine.

"(The Cowboys) got a steal because the dude is a fast guy, very quick," Beaty said. "He was just carrying a little bit too much weight probably when he went through those workouts. But that dude can run."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, in a phone conversation with Armstrong posted on the team's website, gave him some high praise.

"You've got a chance to be a helluva pass-rusher in the NFL," Jones said, "so we're really proud to have you on the team."

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett took the phone next.

"Mr. Jones said it right. We love what you're all about, we love your motor, we love how much you love to play ball," Garrett said. "You're a helluva pick for us. We're excited in this war room right now, and we can't wait to get you in here."

Armstrong, the preseason Big 12 defensive player of the year last season, had a down year considering his previous season's numbers, posting 63 tackles, 9 tackles for loss and 1 1/2 sacks. KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said part of the reason for Armstrong's reduced statistical production was a switch in scheme that required him to give more focus to the run.

In 2016, Armstrong had 10 sacks, which tied for third on KU's all-time single-season list.

Armstrong, as the 116th pick, became the highest-drafted KU football player since Darrell Stuckey in 2010.

"I wish we could tell you when we recruited Dorance that I saw a true bona fide NFL guy, but he was only 212 pounds," Beaty said. "We knew he had a good first step, but we've seen a lot of those, and we knew he was long.

"He's a true guy that worked himself into it."

Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times also reported Saturday night that KU tight end Ben Johnson had agreed to an undrafted free-agent deal with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. said he's motivated by preseason honors, including Big 12 defensive player of the year.