Alex Okafor had to wait until the final day of the 2013 NFL Draft, but once it started it wasn't long until the Arizona Cardinals took the Texas defensive end with the 103rd overall pick (6th of the fourth round).
Alex Okafor's long wait ended when the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the sixth pick of the fourth round.
Okafor becomes the third Longhorn to hear his name called during the draft after Kenny Vaccaro went 15th overall to the New Orleans Saints on Thursday and Marquise Goodwin went 78th overall to the Buffalo Bills on Friday.
"It's just a blessing," Okafor said on Saturday. "No matter what team you go to when you get that call on draft day you're already in love with the team. It's a great opportunity, that's all you can ask for."
The 6-foot-4, 264-pound two-time All-Big 12 defensive end finished his Longhorn career with 178 tackles, 22 sacks and 40 tackles for loss. In his final game with Texas he was named defensive MVP of the Alamo Bowl with 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble against Oregon State.
The Cardinals will hope the production shown at the bowl game will be there week in and week out from Okafor, who will join former Longhorns Sam Acho and Lyle Sendlein in Arizona.
"When I came here [Acho] was sort of a mentor for me, so the biggest transition from college to the NFL is finding guys to hang out with and making new friends and I've already got people down there that I trust and guys that will look out for me," Okafor said.
Consistent production was one of the reasons Okafor, who by some had been a projected first-rounder at times during the draft process, fell to the fourth round. That will be tested often in the suddenly quarterback-heavy NFC West where defending NFC champ San Francisco has Colin Kaepernick, St. Louis has former Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and Seattle has 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year Russell Wilson.
"I expected to be called [Friday]," Okafor said. "It was a long wait [Friday], but God has a plan for me and today I couldn't be any happier. It was worth the wait and I think I'm in a great situation."
Where he'll line up to get after those quarterbacks remains a question.
Okafor's fit in certain schemes was a big factor for teams interested as well. The Cardinals appear like they'll first plug him in at outside linebacker in their 3-4 alignment, but he's likely to have a lot of opportunities to move around and play with his hand on the ground in Arizona.
"When Sam (Acho) was here at Texas he was strictly a 4-3 end and he made a nice transition - started Week 7 and never gave that spot up the whole season," Okafor said. "I plan on doing the same thing."
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