As of Monday, at least 12 former Wildcat players from the 2013 graduating class will have a shot at playing in the NFL this fall. That’s how many members of the Big 12 champion have either been drafted or went undrafted but were picked up as undrafted free agents. Here is our list to-date:
LB Arthur Brown; Baltimore Ravens – Brown was selected in the second round when Baltimore traded up to get its replacement for retiring future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis.
WR Chris Harper; Seattle Seahawks – Seattle selected Harper in the fourth round to bring toughness to a unit lacking an identity last year.
FB Braden Wilson; Kansas City Chiefs – Wilson was selected in the sixth round by Kansas City. The Chiefs were without a true fullback last year, and Wilson has an excellent shot at filling this spot on the roster.
Undrafted Free Agents
CB Nigel Malone; Indianapolis Colts: Malone was accused of being burned at times but was also expected to play aggressively against the best quarterback league in the nation the past two years while hauling in interception after interception. You can never have too many cornerbacks in the NFL, and with the Colts looking to upgrade last year’s lackluster defense, this could be an excellent fit.
QB(?) Collin Klein; Houston Texans: Numerous speculations around the league considered the prospect of a team ignoring Klein’s demands to be taken seriously as a quarterback and pick him up in the fourth round as the next breakout tight end. Instead, Klein fell out of the draft and will get his chance to prove himself as the signal caller to back up Matt Schaub.
RB Angelo Pease; Green Bay Packers: Pease was clearly the back up last year in receiving 60 carries while John Hubert ran the ball 180 times and Collin Klein 207 (he also had five receptions to Hubert’s 18). However, he still displayed the strength and speed to warrant a healthy look in the league and could easily land on someone’s practice squad in August.
LB Justin Tuggle; Houston Texans: Joining Klein in Houston will be Tuggle, the converted junior college quarterback to linebacker who became a household name across the state after helping demoralize and demolish Landry Jones and the Oklahoma Sooners’ passing attack last fall. He will be given a look at inside linebacker for the Texans.
CB Allen Chapman; Indianapolis Colts: While teammates on Saturday afternoon, Malone may be one of Chapman’s biggest competitors this summer as both vie for a spot on the Colts’ secondary. Chapman brings the same acumen to the table as Malone (strong, aggressive, risk-taker), indicating the Colts believe their defense was too passive last year and desire at least one of these players to enhance the physicality of the team.
K Anthony Cantele; Indianapolis Colts: Marking the third Wildcat making the drive north to Indiana, Cantele will be given a shot to replace Adam Vinatieri – one of the greatest kickers in NFL over the past 20 years. Vinatieri has been with the Colts since 2006, but at age 40 the team may be looking to acquire a fresher kicking leg.
TE Travis Tannahill; Cleveland Browns: Cleveland maintained four tight ends on the roster last year, which is absurd in its own right. They combined for 79 of the team’s 328 receptions and were led by Ben Watson, who accounted for 49 catches. The 6’4″ Tannahill was a beast over the middle last year and seemed to catch everything Klein threw his way, no matter how hard he was hit by opposing linebackers. It will be difficult to make Cleveland’s roster given the depth already present, but expect to see his name on someone’s roster this fall.
LB Jarrell Childs; Oakland Raiders: The third piece of the three-headed monster known as K-State’s linebacker corps this year, Childs has been given the opportunity to give Kansas residents one reason to roots for the Raiders. Personally, the Jug will be rooting for Childs to make the team and record 14 sacks – one for every loss the team suffers. Nobody roots for the Raiders.
P Ryan Doerr; Denver Broncos: Doerr will be in Denver this summer to compete against the brother of Chiefs’ punter Dustin Colquitt – Britton Colquitt. Britton ranked third in the NFL last year with a net average of 42.1 yards/punt (although the thin Denver atmosphere gives the ball a slight boost). Denver’s intentions for Colquitt are unknown – they have discussed signing him to a multi-year deal before training camp in July, but also lowballed him with a low right of first refusal that allowed teams to bid on Colquitt without surrendering a draft pick should they make a better offer to him. At the end of the day, Doerr is in a tough spot here and the extremely talented punter will likely be forced to look elsewhere for a spot in the league.
The big name missing from this list of course is DE Meshak Williams. Although his name was not widely circulated following draft workouts, I half-expected him to go in the first seven rounds and certainly didn’t expect 12 Wildcats to be brought in without his name on the list. Obviously my expectations in January have since been tempered, but there’s no way he goes without an invitation from someone before the week is up.
Editor’s note: as of Monday Meshak Williams has joined Brown in Baltimore. More on that story here.