Over the years, Northwestern has seen a number of players parlay their success in college into NFL careers. With training camps around the nation getting underway, let’s take a look at how the Northwestern alumni and current NFL veterans are faring heading into 2016.
DT Corbin Bryant, Buffalo Bills
Bryant played five years at Northwestern (starting 35 games) before entering the 2011 NFL Draft. He landed on the Steelers practice squad for a year after going undrafted in 2011, but found a more stable home in Buffalo in 2013, where he has spent the last three seasons. Bryant, now 28, is coming off a career year in 2015 in which he registered 45 tackles. He re-upped with the Bills on a one-year deal back in April and has established a clear role in Buffalo.
CB Sherrick McManis, Chicago Bears
McManis, a fifth-round pick to Houston in 2010, is entering his seventh NFL season and his fifth with his current team Chicago. McManis has struggled to find his stride as a defensive back in the league, but has carved out an important role on special teams with the Bears. Chicago re-signed McManis to a two-year contract back in March based on his contributions in the third phase.
OT Zach Strief, New Orleans Saints
Strief is entering his 11th season with New Orleans after the team selected him in the seventh round of the NFL Draft back in 2006. Strief spent a number of years as a rotation piece along the Saints offensive line and took over starting right tackle responsibilities in 2011; however, starting NFL offensive lineman is far from the most impressive accolade on Strief’s resume. He was a part of New Orleans’ Super Bowl winning squad in 2009 and earned First-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2013. Strief enters 2016 the Saints most experienced offensive lineman and a key piece for a team looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2015 campaign.
LB Brian Peters
After stops in the Arena Football League, the (now-defunct) United Football League, Canadian Football League and the National Football League with the Vikings, Peters found a role as a special teams standout in Houston last season. The hard-hitting, athletic former Wildcats had 17 special teams tackles last year, tied for the most in the NFL. He seems to have carved out his role with the Texans.
S Ibraheim Campbell, Cleveland Browns
Campbell is a guy to keep an eye on in 2016; he enters camp listed as the Browns’ starting strong safety and has an opportunity to really establish himself given the team’s recent release of Donte Whitner and a promising rookie campaign behind him (he was a fourth-round selection by Cleveland in 2015). A more in-depth examination of Campbell as an NFL contributor can be found here.
QB Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos
This is the one you’ve all been waiting for, right? Touchdown Trev’s NFL resume speaks for itself: seventh-round pick to the Broncos in 2015. Super Bowl Champion. Oh yeah, and he might just be the heir apparent to Peyton Manning in Denver. He showed real promise in limited action in 2015, so let’s see how things play out for Siemian in 2016. He’ll enter camp in competition with Mark Sanchez and 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch for starting quarterback duties. But even if that doesn’t work out, you’ll always have that ring, Trev.
WR Kyle Prater, New Orleans Saints
Prater’s long and laborious journey to the pros continues in 2016 after the Saints inked him to a reserve-future contract in February. He went undrafted in 2015 before landing contracts with the Browns and then the Saints over the course of the 2015 offseason. Prater was released by New Orleans last August before landing that aforementioned contract with the team earlier this year. Prater joins Strief as the resident Northwestern alumni in New Orleans.
Kyle Prater with a nice catch in position drills https://t.co/0lMTYUTIri— Amos Morale III (@Amos_MoraleIII) July 29, 2016
S/LB Jimmy Hall, Oakland Raiders
Jimmy Hall (older brother to current Wildcat Nate Hall) oscillated between linebacker and safety in his time at Northwestern and has been labeled a ‘tweener’ between the two positions in his short time in the NFL, as well. Hall entered the NFL Draft in 2015 and signed with the Raiders as an UDFA last offseason. He enters 2016 still listed on Oakland’s roster.
WR Rashad Lawrence
One of two Rashad wide receivers on the Jacksonville Jaguars (Rashad Greene being the other), Lawrence faces an uphill climb to make the team in 2016. He’s bounced around from Washington, D.C. to Chicago to now Jacksonville but is yet to play a single regular-season down. He has gotten some run with the second-team unit, though.