For the third straight year, not a single Fresno State player was selected in the NFL Draft. But a number of players are not giving up on the idea of playing professional football.
The NFL has had a slew of players that went undrafted but still found success in the league. Tony Romo, Antonio Gates and Arian Foster – to name a few – all carved out careers filled with Pro Bowl seasons, in spite of going undrafted.
It was not easy. All three of the aforementioned NFL stars and all other undrafted free agents were faced with an uphill battle in their quest for a contract.
There are 90 spots on an NFL offseason roster, and earning one of those spots is the first step to making the eventual 53-man final roster that takes the field during the regular season.
A number of Bulldogs are trying to make a name for themselves this offseason
Receiver Da’Mari Scott was signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent, making him the only Bulldog free agent signee.
Scott was the ‘Dogs’ second leading receiver, behind KeeSean Johnson. Scott finished last season with 57 receptions for 566 yards and five touchdowns. He established a comfortable rapport with quarterback Marcus McMaryion throughout the season. Scott proved to be a reliable set of hands that made difficult catches when the play or throw called for it.
Scott saw his numbers flourish when he was moved from the outside to the inside. His speed and physicality were able to get the better of the linebackers and safeties he battled, an easier battle to win as opposed to those against cornerbacks on the outside.
But at the next level, Scott will not have that luxury. The speed is turned up a notch in the NFL, and Scott’s speed leaves a little to be desired.
Scott has a difficult road ahead. The Browns receiving corps received an upgrade at the slot position in Jarvis Landry, and the team selected Florida receiver Antonio Callaway in the fourth round.
Defensive tackle Malik Forrester was a force to be reckoned with in the Mountain West’s best run defense.
The 6-foot-1, 295-pound standout was second on the team in sacks with five and third on the team in tackles for loss with 9.5. Forrester was a wrecking ball off the snap, moving powerfully while also keeping his hands and feet moving.
His efforts earned him mini camp invites from the San Francisco 49ers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has yet to announce which of the two he will accept.
One of the biggest hurdles in Forrester’s path to the NFL is ineffectiveness against more than one blocker. There were several occasions in which he had his moves halted by a single blocker.
The fact that both the Jaguars and the 49ers have depth at interior defensive line, and the fact that he was not offered an undrafted free agent contract are both discouraging. It will be up to him to prove his worth over the other players in contention for spots.
Center Aaron Mitchell was one the Bulldogs’ most prominent voices in the locker room. He could consistently be found in the middle of the huddle rallying his teammates.
No longer a Bulldog, Mitchell’s play on the field has earned him a mini camp invite from the Detroit Lions.
Mitchell led the charge for a Bulldog offensive line that ranked third in the Mountain West in allowing tackles for loss.
Mitchell is 6-foot-2 and 305 pounds, making him a little small to be playing on an NFL offensive line. But Mitchell has worked hard on his frame, setting personal bests this past season to get it to where the Red Wave saw it this season.
The former Bulldog team captain earned his keep on the ‘Dogs’ offensive line, so much so that he was rewarded a role as a team captain. For what he lacks in size and technique, Mitchell makes up for in his work ethic and drive.