By Chuck Pool (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rice defensive tackle Christian Covington became the eighth player of the David Bailiff era to be selected in the NFL Draft when the Houston Texans selected him in the compensatory phase of the sixth round (216th player overall) of the annual draft which was held in Chicago, Illinois.
The native of Vancouver, Canada is just the 31st Canadian to be selected in the NFL Draft in the last three decades. He is the third Owl to be taken by the Texans, joining James Casey , who was a fifth round pick in 2009 and Cheta Ozougwu, who was taken with the final pick of the 2011 draft, earning the title of "Mr Irrelevant".
Rice has now produced draft picks in each of the last five years, the longest streak by the Owls since they produced draft picks in five consecutive years from 1979-83.
After seeing only eight players drafted in a 22-year stretch from 1986-2008, Rice has now seen eight players selected in the last seven years. Covington is the sixth draftee from David Bailiff's first five recruiting classes at Rice and the third defensive lineman, joining defensive ends Cheta Ozougwu and Scott Solomon.
The son of one of the legends of the Canadian Football League, career sack leader Covington came into the 2014 season as a consensus candidate for honors after a dominant sophomore season while leading Rice to its first outright conference championship since 1957.
However, his season was cut short by a pair of injuries that limited him to only seven games as a junior. He elected to declare for the draft, becoming the first Rice player since Casey to declare early for the draft.
He was credited with 20 tackles (14 solo) as a junior, including 3.5 for loss (2.5 sacks). His top game came against Army when he was credited with seven stops as the Owls held the Cadets to 69 yards under their rushing average.
He was credited with 1.5 of his sacks along with five tackles and a pass breakup in the win over North Texas. He was injured early the following week against FIU and missed the remainder of the year.
Covington was a first-team All C-USA pick by league coaches as well as Dave Campbell's Texas Football's All-Texas College second team as a sophomore, leading the team with career-high 11.5 tackles for loss among his 59 stops, including four sacks. He had 4.5 TFL in last five games despite playing with heavy cast on right hand after suffering thumb injury at North Texas.
He was the first sophomore DT from Rice to be honored as first-team, all-conference since the return of two-platoon football. In addition to his production behind the line, he also made first contact with the ball in each of the Owls first two defensive TDs in 2013. He partially deflected a pass that Michael Kutzler caught and ran back for a TD vs. Kansas and a blocked the field goal vs. Houston that Alex Lyons returned for a score.