You couldn’t help but feel for Dixon, who sat in the great Waco barbecue joint Vitek’s throughout Saturday with a room full of family and friends, all of them wondering why his name hadn’t been called yet.
A difficult weekend ended with a dream come true: A chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys after being selected in the seventh round.
It was easy to see why Dixon was so emotional, to the point of crying on his conference call with reporters. The former five-star recruit was the 248th selection in the draft and must’ve gone far later than he’d expected.
But if the Cowboys are patient, and Dixon catches on quickly in minicamp and training camp, he’ll have a future in the league. He’s a fiery safety who has range and hits hard, and in time he can work his way into the Dallas secondary as more of a down safety.
First, he’ll have to prove his worth on special teams. That’s where his ability to run and hit without holding back will make him an asset. Having a close friend on the team in Terrance Williams (and, at least for now, Glasco Martin) means Dixon will have guys looking out for him.
The chip on Dixon’s shoulder after going in the final round shouldn’t be underestimated, either. This is a guy who wants to be great, and gets to do so for his childhood favorite team. He’s got a lot to prove, but I wouldn’t bet against him.
Like Max, I think Dixon has a chance to stick in Dallas. But I really think the 49ers got a steal in Millard -- the top all-around fullback in the draft -- with the 245th overall pick.
Despite being a three-time All-Big 12 selection, Millard’s draft stock fell after he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in late October against Texas Tech.
But Millard is going to a franchise with a roster so loaded it has the luxury of being able to “redshirt” injured players while giving them their first year to rehabilitate. Last year, San Francisco drafted South Carolina Marcus Lattimore, who was still coming back from a gruesome knee injury. In this draft, the 49ers took two other players in similar predicaments in Clemson offensive lineman Brandon Thomas (fourth round) and Florida Atlantic cornerback Keith Reaser (fifth round), who also had ACL surgeries.
In San Francisco, Millard be given plenty of time to get back to 100 percent for the 2015 season. And with a full bill of health, he has the ability to effectively block in the run game, grab passes in the flat and even occasionally carry the ball -- he averaged 5.5 yards per carry during his college career -- all of which will make him an asset in the San Francisco backfield. The 49ers are one of the few remaining teams in the NFL that love to pound the ball between the tackles. Heck, they even used their second round pick on physical Ohio State ball-carrier Carlos Hyde, even with Lattimore and Frank Gore already on the roster.
Bruce Miller, the 49ers’ current starting fullback, signed a three-year extension in March. But Millard could carve out a role as an H-back, considering the 49ers didn’t nab such a player for their pistol attack with any of their 12 picks this year.
Though he was one of the last picks to go off the board, Millard was an excellent player in college. If he can get back to his previous form, he has a chance to be a pretty good pro for a seventh-round selection, too.