Despite not having a ton of success on the field over the past decade, the Hoos have put a good number of players into the NFL. Here at STL, we're going to be tracking them all season long. Today, we'll take a look at who is where and what their season prospects look like.
In alphabetical order:
Oday Aboushi, Jets - Aboushi is listed as the backup at RT. He's probably not ready to be an every down OT in the NFL, but the Jets are not deep on the OL, so if one of the guards goes down, he could be used there as well.
Danny Aiken, Patriots - Aiken is a good long snapper and will snap both FGs and punts. But nobody cares about long snappers until they screw up.
Branden Albert, Chiefs - The Chief's OL (and everything else) was pretty terrible this year. They used the first overall pick on an OT, but Albert is still starting on the left side. Eric Fisher (that 1st pick) will start on the right side. Maybe people thought the Chiefs would try to trade Albert once they selected Fisher. The OL (and the team) should be much improved this year with a Fisher, plus a new coach, and a real QB.
Ahmad Brooks, 49ers - Brooks is a starter at OLB for the defending NFC champ Niners. Last year, he had 46 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 1 INT, 6 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles and a TD on the season. He's still relatively young, so he could put up even better numbers. The 49ers defense is arguably the best in the NFL.
Chris Canty, Ravens - Canty is back in a 3-4 defense, following 4 years of playing 4-3 DT for the Giants. He's really a better fit in the 3-4, and looked good last night, posting a sack and 2 tackles. Of course, the Ravens D got lit up for 49 points.
Nate Collins, Bears - Collins moved over from the Jaguars this offseason. He's been a part-time player thus far in his career, totaling 21 tackles and 0.5 sacks in 22 games. The Bears are strong on the DL, and Collins is the primary backup DT, so he could see more action this year.
Matt Conrath, Rams - Conrath saw action in just 1 game last year for the Rams, but he's made the 53 man roster this year. The Rams DL isn't bad (led by fellow Hoo Chris Long) and Conrath is likely the lowest on the totem pole there. He'll probably be used on the FG defense teams, and his 6'7" frame makes him a pretty good FG block option.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Jets - Brick, now in his 9th season, is still one of the better OTs in the NFL. Last year, the Jets were not a very good team, but the OL was still solid. At least, when it came to run blocking they were. They weren't very good at pass blocking, but then again they weren't very good at passing either.
Cam Johnson, Colts - The Colts moved to a 3-4 defense last year, which moved long-time DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis from DE to OLB. Freeney has moved on to San Diego now, but Mathis is still in place as an OLB. They traded a 7th round pick for Cam Johnson, who spent most of last season on the 49ers practice squad. With no need for LBs, he was superfluous for the 49ers. The Colts could use some pass rushers, and Johnson fits the bill. However, the Colts use a high draft pick on FSU DE/OLB Bjoern Warner, so Johnson may still find playing time hard to come by. He should see time on special teams.
Chris Long, Rams - It's perhaps taken longer than people expected, but Long has turned himself into one of the NFLs top DEs, with 24.5 sacks over the past 2 years. The Rams DL was one of the top DLs in the league last year, with a league leading 52 sacks. They were also very good against the run.
Rodney McLeod, Rams - McLeod made the Rams roster as an undrafted free agent last year, and was one of their top special teams players. He figures to reprise that role this year, but right now is likely to be starting at SS as well, due to a hamstring injury suffered by Darian Stewart. Stewart may return for week 2, but for now McLeod is the starter. It remains to be seen how McLeod will do as an every down defender. He's a bit small for an NFL SS.
Heath Miller, Steelers - I think most Wahoos know Big Money's story by now. He's won two rings with the Steelers. He's turned himself into one of the top blocking TEs in the NFL, and he also had 71 receptions for 816 yards and 8 TDs last year. He also suffered a fairly devastating knee injury late last season. However, he's been activated and should be in the starting lineup on Sunday for the Steelers.
Eugene Monroe, Jaguars - HooGene is entering his 5th season in the NFL, and he's still a very good LT. Now, the Jaguars have been pretty bad for most of that time, and last year was no different. Their OL graded out as about average, but they used the 2nd overall pick on Luke Joeckel, who will play RT opposite Monroe. That should help.
Kevin Ogletree, Buccaneers - Ogletree has been a promising talent, just waiting for a breakout moment. Many thought he had it last year on opening night, with 114 yards and 2 TDs. But, the rest of the season was a bit disappointing and he finished with 436 yards and 4 TDs. He's left Dallas and moved to Tampa Bay, where is the 3rd WR. The Bucs top two WRs are pretty good, so Ogletree could find some good matchups in the slot. He could have a big year.
Austin Pasztor, Jaguars - Pasztor is a back up on the previously mentioned Jaguars OL. He spent most of last season on the practice squad, but was activated and started the final 3 games of the season at LG. He's listed as the backup at LG and RT. If something were to happen to Monroe, Joeckel would switch sides and Pasztor would likely slide into the RT spot.
Cedric Peerman, Bengals - Peerman has established himself as a pretty good special teams guy and a decent ball-carrier. The Bengals used a second round pick on Giovanni Bernard, so Peerman is now the 3rd string RB. He doesn't figure to see many carries, unless somebody is hurt. Still, he'll play plenty on special teams. Working as the up-back in the punt formation, he had 2 big runs on fake punts.
John Phillips, Chargers - The Chargers signed Phillips to a 3 year deal, with 2 million dollars guaranteed. He's the primary backup to Antonio Gates, who has dealt with numerous injuries over the past few years. Phillips will already be in line for plenty of opportunities in 2 TE sets, but if Gates were to miss any time, Phillips could get a lot of run. He's also a good special teams player, picking up 22 tackles on coverage units in 3 years.
LaRoy Reynolds, Jaguars - Another UVA product in Jacksonville, Reynolds was signed as an undrafted free agent, but impressed throughout training camp. He's the primary backup to MLB Paul Posluszny. Posluszny has become one of the steadier MLBs in the NFL, so Reynolds isn't likely to supplant him any time soon. Still, he's just a rookie, and he can impress on special teams. He'll get his shot.
Matt Schaub, Texans - Schaub is now entering his 10th season in the NFL and 7th as a starter. He's thrown for nearly 22000 yards and 120 TDs. The Texans offense largely revolves around a power rushing game, and a play-action passing game which suits Schaub's game perfectly. The Texans figure to be one of the top teams in the NFL again this year. His biggest problem throughout most of his career has been injuries. Football Outsiders ranked him 12th among QBs last season.
Jason Snelling, Falcons - Snelling has seen action for the past 6 years as a RB, FB and special teams player. He's rushed for over 1000 yards in his career and caught passes for over 1000 as well. He has 13 career TDs. He'll continue to get occasional touches for the Falcons high-powered offense, while providing solid special teams play.