EAGAN, Minn. — Devante Downs was at the grocery store, picking up some food for his father, when he learned he would become a draft pick via a phone call from the Vikings.
Selected in the seventh round with the 225th overall pick, Downs didn't lament the long wait that may have been impacted by his recovery from a knee injury that halted his senior season.
"I would say [the injury factored in] significantly, but everything happens for a reason, and I'm grateful to be a Viking now," Downs said during a conference call with Twin Cities media members on Saturday.
"I was having a pretty good year," Downs said. "I was two-time player of the week in my conference, and it just happened at a bad time, but like I said, everything happens for a reason and I can't wait to be a Viking and get out there."
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds by the Golden Bears, Downs played in seven games in 2017 before suffering a season-ending injury against Washington State.
He was making a big impact for Cal, twice earning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors in the first three weeks of the season.
Even though Downs missed almost half of his senior seasion, he was named Cal's Defensive MVP and garnered All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention.
Downs' performances included highs of 14 tackles against Southern Cal and 3.0 tackles for loss (2.0 sacks) against Mississippi.
He started 20 of the 40 games he played and totaled 212 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, five interceptions (including one he returned 59 yards for a touchdown), three pass breakups, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and four quarterback hurries.
Downs said he chose Cal because of its academic rankings as a public school and because of a high number of players they've placed in the NFL.
Cal had 32 former players on NFL rosters when the 2017 NFL season opened, which was tied for 13th-most nationally.
A native of Mountlake Terrace, Washington, Downs graduated from Cal in December with a bachelor's degree in legal studies.