First round picks Rashawn Slater and Greg Newsome only had to wait a few hours to hear their names called in Cleveland, and Earnest Brown IV had to wait until Saturday, as the defensive lineman was selected in the fifth round by the Los Angeles Rams. However, not all of the former Wildcats were lucky enough to receive the call last weekend. Although they did not get selected, seven Northwestern alumni thus far have been signed post-draft and will still have the chance to battle for a roster spot this fall as undrafted free agents.
Paddy Fisher: LB, Carolina Panthers
One of the NU players that was widely predicted to be drafted, the three-year captain surprisingly didn’t hear his name called, and now heads to Carolina. Middle linebacker is a position the Panthers have struggled to fill since Luke Kuechly’s retirement, and a smart player with great leadership qualities like Fisher would be ideal to take over. Carolina signed MLB Denzel Perryman this offseason, but the veteran has yet to play a complete sixteen-game season since entering the league in 2015. If Perryman is unable to stay healthy, Fisher has a solid chance at snatching the starting job.
Blake Gallagher: LB, Baltimore Ravens
The second Irish Law Firm member on this list has a tough road to a linebacker spot, and will likely find himself on special teams. The Ravens have a solid young linebacker core already, consisting of Tyus Bowser and last year’s first rounder, Patrick Queen. Northwestern’s team leader in total tackles could find himself on the active roster in September via strong special teams play, but will probably not play linebacker soon.
Riley Lees: WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Lees saw his yardage and reception numbers both cut in half last season, but his speed and special teams ability drew the interest of the Bengals. Beyond punt returning, Lees’ quickness could prove a valuable asset to quarterback Joe Burrow and the young Cincinnati offense. Additionally, Lees could be used in trick plays (see: pass to Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman vs Wisconsin) if the Bengals offense decides to dial one up. Regardless, the selection of Ja’Marr Chase makes the chance at being anything more than a special-teamer unlikely.
JR Pace: DB, Atlanta Falcons
The senior defensive back is headed back to his hometown team as a UDFA, where he’ll compete for a roster spot among a very young cornerback group. The Falcons have spent the last two offseasons going younger with their defense, drafting AJ Terrell in the first round last year and selecting three defensive backs this year. With the secondary largely unproven, Pace has a chance to step in and contribute.
John Raine: TE, Atlanta Falcons
Raine joins the aforementioned Pace in Atlanta, where he has a decent shot at making the final roster. The Falcons drafted Kyle Pitts fourth overall, and the team already has Hayden Hurst, who scored six touchdowns last season. With those two on the field, Raine likely will not get much playing time, but could get a chance to carve out a role on special teams or goal-line scenarios. There is also still a chance that Hurst gets traded, given his $5.5M cap hit in 2022 and the Falcons’ dire cap space, so Raine could see a roster spot open up if the team decides to go cheaper and younger.
Peyton Ramsey: QB, Carolina Panthers
The ‘Cats former QB1 faces an uphill battle to land on the Panthers’ roster at the most important position. Carolina traded for the Jets’ Sam Darnold a month ago, and have two young backups in former XFL star PJ Walker and West Virginia standout Will Grier. Given their current roster, it would take a phenomenal training camp to make it on the team over one of those three. Ramsey is likely a practice squad candidate, unless he is able to sign with a team with less depth.
Gunnar Vogel: OL, Chicago Bears
Lastly comes Gunnar Vogel, who will travel only a 15 mile trip down to his new home at Soldier Field. The Bears are certainly in need of a stronger offensive line, having finished last season with the 20th-ranked blocking unit according to Pro Football Focus. Chicago also hopes to revamp the line for their new rookie quarterback Justin Fields. After drafting two linemen (including one in the second round), Vogel is on the outside lookin in when it comes to making the team. However, if the Bears can have a draft that they don’t screw up, then anything is possible.
[UPDATE] Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman: WR, Indianapolis Colts
After a couple of days’ worth of tweets were sent by Northwestern faifthful arguing in favor of the team’s top receiver from the 2020 season, RCB has finally been given a shot by an NFL team, earring a minicamp tryout with the Indianapolis Colts today on May 5, 2021.
Heading to a team that has what could be described as a rather weak wide receiver room behind number one option T.Y. Hilton, the Colts may offer everyone’s favorite barber a great chance at finding a permanent home on an NFL roster. He’s certainly been preparing for an opportunity like this one.