Peekin at the Pros: A Look at NU Players in the NFL

What's just like college football, but less fun to pay attention to and more lucrative? PRO FOOTBALL!

Just like college football, people are getting ready to pay attention to the NFL. Scratch that, because people pay way too much attention to the NFL, they've been paying attention to it for about five months, and now people are flocking to various low-level college fields across the country to check out their favorite teams do basic drills that Albert Haynesworth can't complete. 

And who plays pro football? Ex-college football players! So let's check up once again on NU's silm, but existent, NFL crew. Right now, there are 16 Northwestern players on NFL rosters - that number will probably be down to about 12 by the time the season starts.

Let's take a look at who we got, after the jump. 

Locks:

Luis Castillo, San Diego Chargers: Nobody's knocking Luis out of his starting role at defensive end in San Diego. The papers know that, the blogs know that, the depth chart knows that.

Barry Cofield, New York Giants: Barry got messed over by the NFL - he nearly got traded to the Saints, and ended up being tendered and forced to accept a one-year deal for under $2 million, even though he's started at defensive tackle for four years for the Giants. Either way, he'll be starting again for them, so, he'll have the opportunity to make more money later on down the road if he plays as well as he has since he came into the league.

Lookin' for PT:

Nick Roach, Chicago Bears: Earlier in the offseason, Nick Roach was named Chicago's starter at strong side linebacker, but since then, the team went out and signed Pisa Tinoisamoa, who has a fantastic name, and is good at football. It'll be a battle between the two for the final starting gig - and with Brian Urlacher healthy, Roach won't get to randomly start at middle linebacker from time to time.

Kevin Bentley, Houston TexansBentley was last year's "Special Teams captain" on the Texans, which isn't exactly the world's most prestigious title. He's a definite lock for the roster, but the question remains as to where he'll play. The Houston Chronicle praises Bentley's versatility, veteran leadership, and willingness to do what the team asks of him, the problem is, there's talented guys at their three linebacker spots, putting Bentley in "we like you but have nowhere to put you" limbo. With rookie of the year Brian Cushing out because he used the roids, there's a chance Bentley takes over his spot until his suspension is over. And this article lists Bentley as one of the reasons the Texans are the hottest team in the league, so there's that, ladies. 

Mike Kafka, Philadelphia Eagles: As Pro Football Talk put it, the Eagles love them some Mike Kafka. There have been dozens of articles about how he's impressed in Eagles camp, and after the team cut ex-Purdue gunslinger/pickthrower Joey Elliott, his spot on the roster has been virtually locked. But he's behind Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb, meaning he's far from seeing the field.

Trai Essex, Pittsburgh Steelers: Trai is listed as the starter at right guard, but behind him, he has the phenomenally named rookie Maurkice Pouncey from Florida, on whom the Steelers used a first-round pick. News coming out of camp, including this from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a snippet from Behind the Steel Curtain, makes it seem as if Essex has the edge in the position battle for now, but it would be surprising to see a team use a first-round pick on an offensive guard and then let a career backup in Essex play anyway.

Zach Strief, New Orleans Saints: You win the Super Bowl, you try not to change much, even when it comes to backup offensive tackles. Last year, Strief was used as a left tackle when the starter, Jermon Bushrod, wasn't up to snuff, and stayed in the rotation all year long as a goal-line tight end and special teamer. The New Orleans Times-Picayune says that versatility is likely to keep him on the roster - he'll be looking to nudge out Bushrod, who has a hilarious last name, for the starter's role.

Lookin' Mediocre:

Corey Wootton, Chicago Bears: Corey's a fourth-rounder, so he's not going to get cut. But the Bears have him listed as a third-stringer on the left side of the defensive end spot, behind Mark Anderson and Israel Idonije. Windy City Gridiron speculates that Wootton would be a good candidate for a "redshirt" season on the injured reserve - he's still injured a bit, and the Bears have a history of doing this with guys, such as Henry Melton last year. It would save them a roster spot, and give Wootton some time to develop and heal properly.

Sherrick McManis, Houston Texans: You stand by your draft picks, so, even as a fifth-rounder, Sherrick won't get cut this year after training camp. But according to Battle Red Blog, he hasn't been in the mix much at the cornerback spot for a variety of reasons. And he got put as the fourth right-side cornerback on the Texans' first depth chart, which, most of the time, would lead me to believe that they'd cut him, but, as I just said, you rarely see teams cut guys they just drafted, so I don't think it's as bleak as the depth chart makes it seem.


Oooooooooof:

Tyrell Sutton, Charlotte Panthers: People in Charlotte really like Tyrell, as evidenced by this nice little puff piecethat came out in today's Charlotte Observer. But he's in the same spot he was with the Packers last season: Sutton's doesn't make the three-deep depth chart in Charlotte at running back behind stars DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart - he'll have to beat out Mike Goodson for a guaranteed spot on the roster, because fourth running back isn't a lock to make a final roster. He's also listed as the team's second kick returner, again behind Goodson. He'll have to win over one of those spots.

Jason Wright, Arizona Cardinals: The numbers game in Arizona at running back is not pretty for Jason, as Revenge of the Birds points out.  He's behind Tim Hightower, former tOSU running back Beanie Wells, and the well-named LaRod Stephens-Howling. His best chance to make the roster is by hoping the team looks at him as an undersized fullback, where they don't have much depth - not much popping on Wright's google news, which really isn't a good sign.

Eric Peterman, Chicago Bears: Eric definitely has a better chance of sticking with the Bears than he did the year before, when he was sort of an afterthought despite decent preseason play, but it's still bleak. He cracked the team's initial depth chart, but, as one of two fourth-string wide receivers, which would lead you to believe he's the seventh or eighth best guy Chicago has in camp. It's highly unlikely Chicago brings eight wide receivers into a season, so, he'll have to pass some people by. Windy City Gridiron has been playing a game called Wide Receiver Roulette where they see who their readers think should end up on the final roster, and after several rounds, they whittled the competition down to a one-on-one matchup for a seventh and final special teams spot between Rashied Davis and Peterman, and, well, Peterman is losing that vote right now. Of course, fans aren't the deciding factor for most personnel decisions, but it's not that unrealistic a depiction: the Bears clearly like Peterman, picking him up in back-to-back years, but, despite lacking a great No. 1 receiver, they have about six or seven guys worthy of the roster, and if Peterman wants to make it, he'll have to beat out guys like Davis, Juaquin Iglesias, and Greg Mathews

Marquice Cole, New York Jets: Everybody's jinxing my New York Jets by saying they could be Super Bowl bound. I hope their chances of making the big game are better than Cole's chances of staying on the roster: although he did play in 11 games last year, primarily on special teams, he's relatively expendable, and they have a very deep secondary. Darrelle Revis, the league's best corner, on one side; Antonio Cromartie on the other, and if that doesn't work, we have first round pick Kyle Wilson. (I'm weeping tears of joy as I write this.) Offseason signee Brodney Pool is your dimeback, Dwight Lowery is moving to safety, but can probably play corner if you need... and... well, then there's Marquice. Roster math sucks, but on the plus side, reading my team's roster makes me overwhelmingly happy to levels I didn't know were possible.

Ike Ndukwe, Kansas City Chiefs: I'm being favorable by not saying he has no chance: Arrowhead Pride reports that Ndukwe didn't pass his conditioning test and is the team's clear-cut third-string left guard.

 

Nah, son:

John Gill, Indianapolis Colts: John Gill was never going to be a key contributor to the Colts. Although he was on their squad, playing two games last year, they were games they were resting everybody else on their roster - including Peyton Manning - before the postseason. When you're a guy on the fringe of making a roster - in any sport, at any level - the best advice I can give is to act like you're willing to work hard and improve, and stay the hell out of trouble. Even if Gill did the first two things, he did a terrible job of the third, getting arrested at 4 in the morning passed out in a ditch in Indianapolis Saturday night. He was barefoot, with "soiled" shorts, and couldn't stand up, and, as Stampede Blue points out, was about a half a block from a strip club about 45 minutes away from where the Colts have training camp in Anderson. According to my math, (player who isn't likely to make team)+(arrest)=(a player not making said team at all).  It is for this reason Stampede Blue anoints Gill as "He Who is Most Certain to get Cut Soon". 

That being said, it's hilarious that he peed himself.

Zeke Markshausen, Chicago Bears: The Bears signed Markshausen Sunday, but I wouldn't expect much. He'd been at a Bears mini-camp earlier in the year, but, when it comes down to it, he's the eleventh wide receiver on the Bears roster, and the second-most likely Northwestern wide receiver to end up on the team in September. Remember that eight-deep wide receiver depth chart I was talking about in the Eric Peterman part? Yeah, Markshausen isn't on it. 

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