Posted: 2:10 p.m. Monday, April 29, 2013
As expected, the Hoos had just one player drafted, Oday Aboushi. And, Oday went right around where we thought he'd go. He was drafted in the 5th round, with the 141st overall pick, to the New York Jets. This is a very good situation for him. The Jets starters at OG last year (Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore) are both gone, and while the Jets signed Willie Colon, they still have an open spot at OG, and Colon is in his 30s. And while D'Brickashaw Ferguson mans the left tackle position, the Jets weren't thrilled with the play of RT Austin Howard last season.
The Jets actually drafted another OG in the 6th round, so it is clear they were looking to upgrade the position. Aboushi, as we know, played OT his entire career at Virginia. At the Senior Bowl this year, he played some OG and was solid there. He has short arms and isn't quite athletic enough to meet the standards of NFL left tackles, but he could play on the right side for the Jets. Or, he could end up at either OG position.
Aboushi will be 22 when the season begins. He played 4 years in college and he measured 6'6" 308 pounds at the combine. Put all of that together and he is likely as NFL ready as any member of this draft. Having fellow UVA alumnus D'Brickashaw Ferguson around to show him the ropes will help as well.
While Aboushi will certainly need some seasoning to learn the nuances of OL play in the NFL, and especially so if he moves inside to OG, he could well be starting for the Jets when they open the season in September.
Undrafted Free Agents
As always, guys who are not drafted tend to get picked up pretty quickly by NFL teams looking to fill their training camp rosters. Several Virginia players were picked up.
LaRoy Reynolds signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he will join former teammate Eugene Monroe. Not surprisingly for a team that had the 2nd pick in the draft, the Jaguars aren't exactly loaded at the LB position. Only one of their starting OLBs from last season is still around, although they did sign Geno Hayes away from the Bears. Daryl Smith was their top LB, but he missed much of last season with a knee injury and is still unsigned.
This situation is perfect for Reynolds. Again, the Jaguars are not very deep and could use a guy like Reynolds on special teams while he improves his LB play. Geno Hayes is likely going to take over the Will spot in the Jags 4-3 defense, which would leave Reynolds fighting for the Sam position, which wouldn't exactly be his strong suit.
There is a very good chance that Reynolds makes this team out of camp, due to his athletic profile and his experience playing special teams.
The Cowboys have Jason Witten, one of the top pass catching TEs in the NFL. They also drafted a TE in the 2nd round, Gavin Escobar, who is similar to Witten. Escobar excels at making tough catches over the middle, but struggles as a blocker. They also have James Hanna, a third year TE who had 8 catches last season in limited playing time. Hanna is also a better receiver than a blocker. This is where Freedman would fit in, as he's a better blocker than receiver.
Freedman is actually listed as an H-back, which is actually a role that the Cowboys use their TEs in a fair amount. While Freedman appears to be a decent fit, I am not sure there is really a place on the Cowboys roster for him. I simply can't see them going into the season with 4 TEs on the roster, and the other three guys are well ahead of him in the pecking order. Freedman isn't a good enough blocker to play in line on short yardage plays, nor is he much of a threat in the passing game.
Steve Greer was signed by the hometown Washington Redskins. The Skins play a 3-4 defense, which means there is an extra ILB position for Greer to compete for. One ILB position is locked down by London Fletcher, although he is 38 years old and clearly nearing the end of his career. The other OLB spot is held by Perry Riley, who is young and promising. Greer wasn't likely to fight for a starting positions anyway.
The Skins lost their primary backup ILB, Lorenzo Alexander, in free agency. Their primary backup now is 4th year pro Roddrick Muckelroy. Thus far, Muckelroy hasn't seem much action on defense, but has been a solid special teams player. Greer would have to go the same route, excelling on special teams in order to get noticed. He will likely be fighting with 3rd year pro Vic So'oto for a roster spot. So'oto is bigger, but hasn't shown the instincts to play LB at the NFL level. Greer, on the other hand, has outstanding instincts that help him play faster than his speed would indicate, and that may help him stand out in training camp.
That said, Greer is unlikely to make the team. The Skins simply may not have room for Greer.
Perry Jones has signed with the Baltimore Ravens. This is an interesting spot for him, because the Ravens are the defending Super Bowl champions, and therefore are pretty strong all around. And, as is often the case with Super Bowl champions, the Ravens lost quite a bit off last year's team.
The Ravens, on the other hand, are very strong at RB. Obviously, Ray Rice is one of the top all-around RBs in the NFL. And because of his receiving skills, he's a true every down RB. Behind Rice is 2nd year pro Bernard Pierce, who is bigger than Rice (and Jones), but isn't near the receiving threat. Third year pro Anthony Allen is the 3rd string RB. Allen is bigger than all of them.
Jones isn't unseating any of the three RBs on the Ravens, as all three are good, well-established players. If Jones is going to make the Ravens, he's going to need to excel on special teams. He certainly has the ability to do that. Jones played RB for the Hoos, but he was recruited by most schools as a LB/S prospect. That experience on defense will help him in a special teams role. Jones simply oozes enthusiasm and energy and that is exactly what NFL teams look for in special teams players.
Jones likely isn't big enough or explosive enough to play RB in the NFL, and certainly not for the Ravens. But he could become a very good special teams players, which would help him stick around for a while.
(Editor's Note: This will be updated as news of any other signings comes in.)