Two former Northwestern Wildcats were taken in the NFL Draft. Ibraheim Campbell was a lock, and him being selected in the fourth round by the Cleveland Browns was about on par with pre-Draft expectations. The bigger surprise was Trevor Siemian being taken with one of the final picks of the draft. He'll head to Denver. Then, the undrafted free agents came quickly. Brandon Vitabile to Indianapolis. Chi Chi Ariguzo to San Diego. Jimmy Hall to Oakland. Tony Jones to Washington. Finally, Kyle Prater to Cleveland.
All of these guys will have a chance to make a roster. But how good are their chances? I'll rank them in order:
1. Ibraheim Campbell, Browns
Campbell should easily make this Browns' roster. Cleveland has a relatively strong secondary, with Joe Haden being an elite corner and Tramon Williams, who was just brought in from Green Bay, on the opposite side. Justin Gilbert, a first-round pick, and a host of other younger guys back those two up. At the safety position, Donte Whitner and Tashaun Gipson are the projected starters according to ESPN, which has Campbell as the backup to Whitner at strong safety. Whitner will be 30 when the season starts, and it's not unreasonable to think that Cleveland drafted Campbell as a guy to eventually replace him. Additionally, Gipson is yet to sign his restricted free agent tender, so he might be looking for a long-term deal that the Browns may or may not be willing to give to him. Overall, Campbell, barring injury, has a very good chance to stick and perform in some capacity, whether that be on special teams or on spot duty defensively.
2. Trevor Siemian, Broncos
The fact that Siemian was drafted surprised many. In a year when only seven signal callers were taken and Siemian was ranked 21st by CBS Sports heading into the draft, it was certainly a shock. But the inconsistent former WIldcat must have showed the Broncos enough in meetings and workouts.
"There was just something about the way he played, his footwork, his release, I liked the way he went about things," -Broncos coach Gary Kubiak
Peyton Manning can't play forever, and the situation behind him is far from clear. Denver has fourth-year man Brock Osweiler, a talented 6-foot-8 gunslinger from Arizona State, as a possible candidate to take over for the living legend once he retires, but the jury is certainly still out. In comes Siemian, who will battle Zac Dysert, another young guy, for the third quarterback spot. Although Dysert has an extra year's worth of experience in the system, he wasn't drafted by Kubiak, and Siemian was. Given that, Siemian should have a decent chance to earn a spot in Denver.
3. Kyle Prater, Browns
He's 6-foot-5 and has great hands. Sure sounds like a wonderful combination if I'm an offensive coordinator. (P.S. He also had an amazing documentary made about him.) If Prater can make it through camps okay health-wise, he should have a decent shot at cracking this Browns team. Cleveland desperately needs someone to catch balls from [to-be-determined quarterback]. The Browns drafted Vince Mayle to shore up the receiving corps, but the team's pass catchers outside of that are not very impressive. Andrew Hawkins is a great slot guy and Taylor Gabriel and Travis Benjamin have some speed, but neither is a go-to guy near the redzone. Dwayne Bowe has produced but is starting to get up there in years, and Brian Hartline is another free agent acquisition, but not a game breaker. Enter Prater as perhaps a sixth wide receiver mainly used in redzone situations. Another route that could possibly open up is at the tight end spot. There was talk of Prater beefing up 15-20 pounds and becoming a tight end. The Browns do not have any standout tight ends, especially after the loss of Jordan Cameron to Miami. Keep your eyes on Prater, who could fill a need in Cleveland.
4. Brandon Vitabile, Colts
Khaled Holmes and Jonotthan Harrison. Those are the guys in front of Vitabile in the battle for the right to snap the ball to Andrew Luck. Unless you're a Colts diehard, you likely haven't hear of either of those guys. Holmes got five starts last year, but didn't do enough to earn the first-team designation this year and Harrison struggled in his time last year as well. Vitabile was a late-round candidate early in the draft process, but this stock slipped a little bit due to physical limitations. Still, expect Vitabile, a noted hard worker and high-IQ guy, to perhaps make the roster or the practice squad.
5. Jimmy Hall, Raiders
The Raiders love guys who test well. Size, strength and speed? Jimmy Hall's got it. It'll be tough for him to make the Oakland squad considering they have two very impressive young starters in Khalil Mack and Sio Moore as outside linebackers and Malcolm Smith, a former Super Bowl MVP, as a backup. Curtis Lofton mans the inside position of the 4-3 scheme and the Raiders drafted Ben Heeney in the fifth round of the draft to back him up. Still, Hall has the physical attributes that could help him make it as a special teamer out in the Bay Area.
6. Chi Chi Ariguzo, Chargers
Ariguzo is going to have a tough time making both the team and the practice squad. Not only do the Bolts have young, talented linebackers all over the place, but they also added two undrafted rookie linebackers who probably have a better shot at making the team or practice squad than Ariguzo. Ariguzo would likely be competing for a roster spot as a inside linebacker in San Diego's 3-4 defense, but it just might not work out for him in southern California.
7. Tony Jones, Redskins
The Redskins have plenty of speed at the wide receiver position already. DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts are in place and the team added Jamison Crowder in the NFL Draft. Jones can move, but his hands are suspect at best and he doesn't fill a need.