By now it is old news that four Brigham Young Cougars are celebrating their new opportunity to continue playing football in the NFL. While they have every right to be happy, there is another group of players who get lost in the joy and jubilee—the established pro players who’s jobs are now at risk. BYU has 12 former players who fit this category.
In part 2 of BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL’s coverage of the NFL draft, we look at how the NFL draft may impact the former Cougars already in the NFL.
Let’s cut to the chase. It has already been well publicized that quarterback John Beck is gone. The Redskins drafted two quarterbacks in the first four rounds. No one was surprised when they selected Robert Griffin III from Baylor with the second overall pick. At that point, Beck’s spot as the no. 3 quarterback on the roster was fairly secure. As soon as Krik Cousins out of Michigan State was selected in round 4 on Saturday, Beck’s release was imminent.
Going into his sixth year, Beck is now looking for his fourth home. Here’s to hoping Steve Young can pull some strings and get Beck to San Francisco. If Beck is going to succeed in the NFL, Jim Harbaugh might be his only hope.
Earlier in the week, the Redskins acquired linebacker Bryan Kehl. Although Kehl has played on the outside most of his career, the Redskins made it clear that they intended to use him as an inside linebacker. The Redskins used their fourth round pick on Keenan Robinson an outside linebacker from Texas. He was the only linebacker selected by the Redskins. As long as Kehl does well in camp, his spot should be secure.
The Dolphins did little to threaten John Denney’s status with the team. Denney has been the team’s long snapper for seven seasons and appears poised to do it for an eighth.
Ray Feinga’s spot with the team is a little ambiguous at this point. The one offensive lineman the Dolphins did draft is Jonathan Martin from Stanford. Martin is listed as a tackle, but tackles can easily be moved to guard, which is where Feinga plays. Additionally, although not a draft pick, BYU center/guard Terrence Brown has signed with the Dolphins as a free agent; therefore, he will directly compete with Feinga for a spot on the roster.
This isn’t an either/or situation. Theoretically, both Brown and Feinga can make the 53-man roster. It is also possible they both don’t make the roster. Either way, Feinga has his work cut out for him.
Austin Collie has done enough in his first three years to keep his roster spot secure under almost any circumstance. In fact, his sure hands and precise route running will be an even greater asset this year as rookie quarterback Andrew Luck transitions to the NFL.
That being said, it wasn’t ideal to see the Colts draft two wide receivers. In the third round the Colts snatched the speedy T.Y. Hilton from FIU, and in the sixth round Lavon Brazill from Ohio. Presumably, the Colts drafted these two in hopes of finding someone to replace Pierre Garcon who bolted to the Redskins.
Hopefully, Luck is as smart as everyone says he is and he already understands Collie’s value. There is a reason why Collie became Peyton Manning’s go-to receiver in the red zone.
Defensive lineman Brett Keisel falls into the same category as Collie, notwithstanding his advanced age. Keisel and the Beard have become an enigma in the blue collared City of Steel. Keisel will be on the Steelers roster come September.
The Steelers did draft defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu from Washington. The Steelers brass may have some ideas to groom Ta’amu to replace Keisel, but it won’t be this year. Keisel’s time in the league is running out, but he still has a few good years left in the tank.
St. Louis Rams
Linebackers Brady Poppinga and David Nixon were with the Rams last year. Poppinga had a solid 2011 season, but is no longer on the team’s roster. Apparently, his contract was up and the Rams weren’t eager to resign him. He and the Rams could come to terms before the season starts.
Nixon has had to fight to keep his roster spot each week of his NFL career. He is still listed on the Rams’ roster, but that could easily change between now and September.
The Rams selected outside linebacker Aaron Brown from Hawaii in the seventh round of the draft. While Brown was just a seventh round draft pick, Nixon needs to be on alert. One more body to compete with does not bode well for Nixon or Poppinga.
Tight end Dennis Pitta had a breakout year in 2011. The AFC Championship game was, possibly, his best game of the year. It was evident that he has gained the confidence of quarterback Joe Flacco. Going into his third season, Pitta is another Cougar whose status is safe. It is no wonder than the Ravens didn’t draft a tight end.
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted offensive guard Brandon Washington from Miami (Fla.). This probably spells doom to Dallas Reynolds. The Eagles were gracious enough to give Reynolds one last chance to make the team. His practice squad eligibility has been exhausted (three years). Rather than release Reynolds, the Eagles have kept him on the roster to give him one last chance to make the 53-man roster before his career is over, at least in Philadelphia. If another team wants Reynolds on their 53-man roster, then they could sign Reynolds. However, that is unlikely since it hasn’t happened his first three seasons.
Green Bay Packers
Outside linebacker Vic So’oto made the Green Bay Packers’ roster last year on the momentum of an impressive preseason. Going into year two, I like So’oto’s odds to stay with the Pack. His playing time and production increased down the stretch. However, he will have some competition. The Packers drafted outside linebacker Terrell Manning from North Carolina State in the fifth round.
Fullback Manase Tonga doesn’t play a position that teams make it a point to fill through the draft. In fact, Tonga wasn’t even drafted, but made the Raiders squad as a free agent. While it is nice to see that the Raiders didn’t draft a fullback or any running back, for that matter, that doesn’t mean a free agent fullback couldn’t be signed. Initial reports, however, indicate this is not the case. Tonga’s spot on the team doesn’t appear to be negatively impacted by the recent draft.
Running back Harvey Unga is back with the Chicago Bears. However, nothing much has changed with the Bears’ running back situation since Unga was selected in the 2010 Supplemental draft. Matt Forte is still the franchise back. Fortunately, for Unga, the Bears did not draft any running backs last week.
That means Unga’s primary competition to make the roster will be 245 pound and four-year pro Michael Bush, the only other running back besides Unga (237 pounds) who weighs over 220. Bush was recently acquired from the Oakland Raiders where he rushed for just under 1,000 yards in 2011 and over 2,600 total yards the last four seasons.
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