By: Barry Barnes, Founder
Climbing to the top of the world’s highest peaks and mountains is difficult, nearly possible considering some of the tough conditions. The hike to the NFL is just as equal, especially when a player is not drafted and off the radar. Well, getting to the top of the world’s massive rocks are accomplish-able, and climbing to the NFL, by way of the Regional Combine, is just as doable.
15 athletes from the nearly 4,000 participants of the Combine workouts signed with teams Monday for the 2014-15 NFL season.
Great climb gentlemen! Now, it’s time to conquer the mountain of sustaining an NFL career.
As of Sunday, 11 players signed onto a practice squad. However, the ultimate goal was to make the 53-man active roster. And four were able to manage that feat.
Among those signees were:
Offensive lineman Ulrick John, who was selected in the seventh-round by the Indianapolis Colts in May. The Georgia State product is currently on the team’s injured/reserved list. John attended the Tampa workouts on Mar. 1 and was impressive enough during the Super Regional Combine in April for the Colts to select him.
For the record, Georgia State launched their football program in 2010 and John joins wide receiver Albert Wilson of the Kansas City Chiefs and defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi of the Cincinnati Bengals as the only Panthers in the NFL.
Defensive end Davon Coleman was added to the Dallas Cowboys much needed defensive line unit. Coleman plays with a high motor and displayed his aggressive style of during the preseason. The Arizona State defensive end ventured through the Combine held in Miami, and finished with eight tackles for the preseason.
It’s no secret that the Washington Redskins need help in the secondary. The Skins struggled to stay healthy and their secondary lack of consistency in their play, which led them to give up big plays last season. Veterans DeAngelo Hall and Ryan Clark will need support from their youthful teammates and signing cornerback Akeem Davis gives them another player to influence.
On March 9, Davis attended the workouts in Atlanta. Unlike last year when Davis was invited to the SRC in Dallas, he was not invited to attend the Super Regional Combine in April, which was held in Detroit. The Memphis graduate took advantage of his opportunity and he’s now wearing the burgundy and gold.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is the franchise’s cover boy and to keep the face of the organization untouchable and pretty, the need for good offensive linemen is necessary. Tackle David Foucault dropped into their mist from Montreal, Canada by way of the RC.
Foucault registered for the workouts in Tampa and was invited to the SRC in April, after his successful showing in Florida. Shortly after the NFL Draft, the Panthers signed the University of Montreal product on May 19.
Foucault demonstrated his raw talent of athleticism and quickness during the preseason. The Panthers could not afford to let him get away, so they place him on the active roster after he was told that he will be apart of the practice squad, if no team claim him off waivers.
“I talked with my family and my friends to tell them the good news — I’m on the team, on the practice squad,” said Foucault, according to Panthers.com. “After like two hours I get this phone call, and I was so excited. I called my parents back, and they started to cry and yell.”
The remaining 11 were not selected to any other 53-man rosters Saturday. Clearly, among the 700 players cut, these Regional Combine players were good enough to be apart of a club’s future.
Buffalo Bills – Linebacker Bryan Johnson was one of the four players the Bills signed from the RC (defensive backs Kamaal McIlwain and Michael Carter and wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt) for training camp. Johnson made the squad.
Chicago Bears – Cornerback Al Louis-Jean was among one of the favorite this training camp and preseason. Although the Boston College product did not make the 53-man roster for the Bears, there was no doubt that the organization was going to make him a member of the practice squad. By signing Louis-Jean and two other cornerbacks in Terrance Mitchell and Isiah Frey to the squad, is a sign that the Bears are preparing for the aerial attack of the NFC North.
Louis-Jean is very aggressive and is always in attack mode. Against the Cleveland Browns in Week 4 of the preseason, he caused Browns running back Terrance West to fumble with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter. And before the two-minute warning of the first half, Louis-Jean drove for an over thrown pass by Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Denver Broncos – defensive end Chase Vaughn is currently placed on the Broncos injured/reserved list. Vaughn is a 25-year old indoor football veteran, and when healthy, he will get the chance to play in the great outdoors of the NFL.
Indianapolis Colts – The Colts continues to pluck players from the RC. Last year, it was linebacker Josh McNary. Defensive tackle Nnamdi Obukwelu joins the fold and the Harvard Crimson will be a good addition when he is call upon.
Minnesota Vikings – Wide receiver Donte Foster is a speedster. Foster worked out in the Indianapolis Combine on Mar. 30 and was invited to the Super Regional Combine. During the preseason, the speedy receiver from Ohio had two receptions for 27 yards.
New York Giants – Defensive end Jordan Stanton joins the squad after a solid camp and preseason. Stanton ventured through the Baltimore workouts on Mar. 29.
Oakland Raiders – Normally, big plays and touchdowns generates attention. For the case of tight end Scott Simonson, the big hit he took during the contest against the Lions spotlighted his toughness in Week 2. The Assumption College standout caught two huge passes from quarterback Matt McGloin, despite fumbling after his 24-yard gain against the Lions inside their 2-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
Simonson is a solid blocker, and solid blocking tight ends are rare.
Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers welcome two players from the Regional Combine. Wide receiver Charain Goodwin has been apart the club since June, and without a phone call from legendary Steeler and Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount, quarterback Ben Roesthlisberger may have missed out on a potential weapon.
The Steelers picked up linebacker Alejandro Villanueva off waivers after the Philadelphia Eagles released him.
Seattle Seahawks – After a solid performance by the running game during the preseason, the Seahawks understood that they have something in running back Demitrius Bronson. The reigning Super Bowl champions are deep in the backfield with Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael and Robert Turbin. Along with Bronson, the Seahawks piled up 141.5 yards on the ground during the preseason – fourth-best.
Bronson is a tough runner and he fits the mold of what the Seahawks want, which is to ultimately sustain their top beast. The Seahawks signed Bronson quickly after they released him.
Tennessee Titans – Tackle William Poehls blocked his way onto the Titans practice squad, and when it’s his time, the Montana standout will pave the way.
Teams still have time to sign other players, as all the squads did not fill their 10-man practice squad rosters. So, expect to see a couple other Regional Combine participants get signed soon.
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