NEW YORK — Even as Ryan Williams was bear-hugging Roger Goodell at the draft Friday, the NFL was back in position to shut down all other business.
The Virginia Tech running back waited in a side room at Radio City Music Hall for 37 picks. Arizona finally called his name at the sixth spot in the second round — moments before the league was granted a temporary stay against an injunction that blocked its lockout of players.
The teary-eyed Williams embraced the commissioner and former Cardinals cornerback Aenaes Williams, who made the announcement. Ryan Williams’ family and friends followed him on stage — about two dozen people in all — surrounding him and Goodell in a sea of celebratory supporters.
They had no idea Williams might not be allowed to report to the team if the lockout is reinstated while a court in St. Louis hears the league’s appeal.
“When I went to visit, they told me I would not slip past pick No. 38,” Williams said, his eyes still wet. “And I respect them 100 percent.
Williams left school with two years of eligibility remaining. He rushed for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 5.6 yards per carry, as a redshirt freshman in 2009, but was limited by a hamstring injury last season.
“The passion that I play with separates myself from a lot of people on the job,” he said.
Williams said the prolonged stay wasn’t that bad for his family and friends because “they got another day out in New York.”
Earlier, the fans’ mood over the labor dispute hadn’t changed as, for the second straight night, they showered Goodell with boos. And that was well before the most recent court decision.
Two high-profile quarterbacks preceded Williams and his entourage to the stage.
Cincinnati selected TCU quarterback Andy Dalton. The Bengals’ incumbent, Carson Palmer, has demanded a trade, and the addition of Dalton could pave the way for Palmer’s exit — whenever the league allows it.
“We spent a lot of time on this, no question,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “It’s a big, important, important pick, important piece.”
San Francisco immediately traded up with Denver to get the next spot and select the next QB: Colin Kaepernick of Nevada. He also was an outstanding baseball prospect, a former pitcher with a powerful arm.
Kaepernick was watching the draft with his family in Turlock, Calif., about a 2-hour drive from the 49ers’ practice facility in Santa Clara. He was so excited he was contemplating making the drive immediately — even though he might be turned away when he gets there.
“That just makes it that much easier for my family, friends to come and see me,” Kaepernick said. “I know everybody in Reno was hoping I went to the 49ers as well. For me, it was the perfect pick.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick pulled a surprise to begin the round: He stood still.
Given their willingness to trade down every year, the Patriots heard from several teams interested in that slot before taking Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling. Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett announced the pick.
Dowling said he had no private workouts for the Patriots in the lead-up to the draft.
“I don’t think you should be surprised at where you want to go,” he said. “You should be expecting to go in the first round, the highest pick or whatever. So I’m not surprised about them calling me. I’m just happy.”
Dowling is a hard hitter who missed most of last season with a broken left ankle, starting only two games. The Patriots made out well with last year’s first-round pick, cornerback Devin McCourty, and weren’t afraid to go back to the secondary again.
Buffalo also went for a cornerback, Aaron Williams of Texas, with the second pick of the second round.
Clemson sack master Da’Quan Bowers, at one point considered a top-five pick before undergoing right knee surgery, fell to 51st overall. Tampa Bay grabbed Bowers 10 spots after Jarvis Jenkins, a less-regarded defensive end from Clemson, went to Washington.
“The last 24 hours have been crazy long,” said Bowers, who assured the Buccaneers his knee was fine. “It’s been grueling just waiting for that one phone call. I didn’t expect the wait to be this long. I was expecting to go off the board in the first round.”
Kyle Rudolph of Notre Dame was the first tight end chosen, by Minnesota at No. 43. Two picks later went the first safety, UCLA’s Rahim Moore to Denver.
The final pick of the second round was Kentucky’s Randall Cobb, an All-American all-purpose player projected as a receiver in the pros, who went to Green Bay.
Twelve players from the Atlantic Coast Conference went in the second round.
Still waiting to be chosen were All-American linebacker Greg Jones of Michigan State, and Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, who is making a comeback from cancer.
Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, projected by some to go in the opening round, instead was chosen 10th in the third round by New England, where he can serve an apprenticeship under Tom Brady. Off-field issues clouded Mallett’s career after he transferred from Michigan.
The final choice Friday night was a complementary selection for Carolina, which lost Julius Peppers to free agency in 2010. The Panthers, who began the draft Thursday by taking Heisman Trophy-winning QB Cam Newton of Auburn, picked defensive tackle Sione Fua of Stanford.