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NFL Draft 2021: Dallas Cowboys select Iowa's Chauncey Golston in the third round


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Chauncey Golston did everything he was asked to do during his five-year Iowa career. He grew from a lightly recruited 220-pound prospect out of the Detroit area into a powerful and productive Big Ten Conference pass rusher at nearly 270.

And now that progression has paid off. Golston on Friday night was the first Hawkeye selected in the NFL Draft, going in the third round to the Dallas Cowboys with the No. 84 overall pick. Golston giddily took a phone call Friday from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

"The Cowboys? That'd be great," Golston responded as family members in the background hollered their approval of the pick. "... I'm more than excited, more than ready."

Golston (6-4½, 269 officially at Iowa’s pro day) should bring a reliable defensive-line presence to his new team and will be a strong asset to the locker room, as he’s known for being a high-character guy and strong leader. He was the No. 16-rated edge rusher in this year’s draft by The Athletic’s Dane Brugler.

Golston was a strong three-year contributor for the Hawkeyes, but circumstantially always seemed to be out of the spotlight. In 2018, Anthony Nelson and A.J. Epenesa were the Hawkeyes’ pass-rush monsters, but Golston quietly amassed nine tackles for loss and delivered big moments, including a huge fumble recovery in Iowa's 2019 Outback Bowl win against Mississippi State.

A year later, after Nelson was taken in the fourth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Golston was Iowa's starting defensive end opposite Epenesa and racked up another 9½ TFLs. But Epenesa was the D-line's star force and became a second-round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills.

Then as a fifth-year senior, Golston was again overshadowed by the exploits of a teammate, this time Big Ten defensive player of the year Daviyon Nixon. But Golston produced again, this time earning first-team all-Big Ten honors at defensive end after recording 5½ sacks in eight games for an Iowa defense that ranked in the top-10 nationally in scoring and total yards.

Golston finished his Iowa career with 27 tackles for loss. He possesses a rangy 84½-inch wingspan and can play both inside and outside at the next level.

Golston is the first Hawkeye taken by the Cowboys since linebacker Anthony Hitchens was nabbed by Dallas in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. He was the only Iowa player chosen in the first two days of the draft (Rounds 1-3). Nixon was billed as a possible Day 2 pick, but had to wait until Saturday to hear his name called.