It is that time again. All 32 NFL teams have reported to training camp and 90 guys are trying to convince the coaching staffs that they deserve to be on the final 53-man rosters when the end of camp arrives. A new crop of former Gophers have joined the group of established players trying to win a job, and while it will be quite the long shot for most, there are one or two who could surprise and end up on a final NFL roster.
Below are the names of the ex-Gophers currently in NFL training camps and also a few names who are still looking to catch on with a team. I give my prediction for a percent chance they have of making the 53-man roster at the end of camp. I have no real inside information, its just a guess. I’ll update the percentages as camp moves along.
Demarius Travis—Safety —New England Patriots
Travis spent the entire 2017 season on the Patriots practice squad after being signed as an undrafted free agent. He will be in a battle to make the 53-man roster once again, but does have one more season of practice squad eligibility and could return there.
Chance of making the 53-man roster? 5%
MarQueis Gray—Tight End—Miami Dolphins
Gray completed his sixth season in the NFL and second with the Dolphins in 2017. He played in all 16 games and caught one pass for ten yards and ran the ball five times for 14 yards. He has been the Dolphins #2 or #3 tight end for two seasons and even with the drafting of Penn State’s Mike Gesicki he should have a solid hold on one of the backup tight end spots in 2018.
Chance of making the 53-man roster? 80%
Maxx Williams— Tight End—Baltimore Ravens
Maxx enters his fourth NFL season just trying to stay healthy. In three previous seasons with the Ravens he has only played in 29 games. Last season coming off of a horrific knee injury in 2016 he played in 11 games and recorded 15 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Maxx will have a definite roster battle on his hands as the Ravens took Hayden Hurst out of South Carolina in the first round, and then Mark Andrews out of Oklahoma in the third round. Maxx is the elder statesman of the remaining Ravens tight ends, but that won’t guarantee him a job in a month.
Chance of making the 53-man roster? 50%
Briean Boddy-Calhoun—Cornerback—Cleveland Browns
Boddy-Calhoun enters training camp with a fairly strong hold on a job. BBC started seven of the Browns games in 2017 at cornerback and 39 tackles, and defended six passes. #4 overall draftpick Denzel Ward may try and cut into some of BBC’s time but Boddy-Calhoun has the NFL experience to give him a early leg up into camp.
Chance of making the 53-man roster? 100%
Jalen Myrick—Cornerback—Jacksonville Jaguars
Myrick enters camp in 2018 trying to continue to lock down a roster spot. He played in five games in his rookie season with the Jaguars and had one pass defense in week 15 against the Houston Texans. It won’t be easy for Myrick to earn his spot back, but he knows how to grind out a job in the NFL and can do it again.
Chance of making the 53-man roster? 50%
Tramaine Brock—Defensive Back—Denver Broncos
Brock had a rough 2017 season after getting cut by the San Francisco 49ers in the off-season due to some legal issues. Those were resolved and Brock ended up signing with the Minnesota Vikings. He played in just 11 games and saw very limited time. Brock has now moved onto Denver where a lot of young players will be looking to win jobs from the veteran.
Chance of making the 53-man roster? 50%
Eric Murray—Cornerback—Kansas City Chiefs
Murray enters his third NFL training camp with a roster spot relatively secured. He played in 14 games in 2017 for the Chiefs and started two of them. He had 36 tackles, one sack, and five pass defenses a year ago. Murray has excelled on special teams for KC, one reason why his job appears quite secure heading into 2018.
Chance of making the 53-man roster? 95%
Steven Richardson-Defensive Tackle—Los Angeles Chargers
Richardson signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent after the 2017 season and is one of a few Gopher rookies who hopefully have a chance to stick in the NFL. It has only been a day or two of training camp, but Richardson has looked good in practice. If he can keep it up, he will have a good shot to make the final roster.
Chances of making the 53-man roster? 45%
Damien Wilson—Linebacker—Dallas Cowboys
Wilson enters his fourth NFL season in 2018 coming off of his best season as a professional. He played in all 16 games for the Cowboys and started nine of them. He recorded 35 tackles, one sack and one pass defensed. Wilson had been playing a lot of special teams for the Cowboys, but emerged into a true 4-3 linebacker in 2017. Hopefully he can continue to grow in 2018.
Chances of making the 53-man roster? 100%
Marcus Sherels—Cornerback/Returner—Minnesota Vikings
Marcus Sherels enters his fifth season in the NFL with the Vikings and once again rumors of his demise are floating around. In almost every previous season there are rumors that Sherels wouldn’t make the final cut as his play at corner back is not as strong as it needs to be. However, he keeps coming back and is arguably one of the best punt returners currently in the NFL. He will be getting pushed by rookie cornerback Mike Hughes in the return game, but early indications seem like Sherels is safe in his punt return spot and Hughes will just return kicks for the time being. But you can never be sure until the final roster is announced.
Chances of making the final 53-man roster? 75%
Ryan Santoso—Punter—Detroit Lions
Santoso was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Lions to push incumbent veteran punter Sam Martin in training camp. Martin brings in a bit of baggage and was suspended for six games last season for an off the field incident. From all indications Santoso has looked good early, but will it be enough to get the Lions to go with the untested rookie? Lets hope so, but the cautionary tale of Peter Mortell lingers long in Gophers fans memories.
Chance of making the final 53-man roster? 40%
Nate Wozniak—Offensive Tackle—New Orleans Saints
No that’s not a typo, the Saints have moved the former Gopher tight end to offensive tackle. The 6’10 Wozi has bulked up to 280 and has the footwork to definitely have potential at the tackle spot. He spent most off the offseason bulking up and eating all he could to get up to an offensive lineman’s typical weight. Will it be enough to get him on the final 53-man roster? I’m guessing not, but hopefully a practice squad spot is within his reach.
Chance of making the final 53-man roster? 5%
De’Vondre Campbell—Linebacker—Atlanta Falcons
Campbell enters his third NFL season as a budding star in the league. Cambell played and started all 16 games in 2017 for the Falcons and recorded 92 tackles, 2 sacks and forced a fumble. He has a starting spot locked down and will not need to worry about his spot in camp.
Chance of making the final 53-man roster? 100%
Jonathan Celestin—Linebacker—Atlanta Falcons
After trying out for a few different teams including the Falcons twice, it was officially announced Monday afternoon that the Falcons had signed Celestin.
I want to thank GOD first and foremost for giving me the ability to play this game. I want to thank my mom , my dad (FlyHighPops ), my little sister, family, & friends. This is just the beginning of a new Journey... #InBrotherhood #RiseUp ⚫️ #ImHome pic.twitter.com/8CW3WlmtXX— Jonathan Celestin (@JonC__4) July 30, 2018
He joins his former college teammate in the Falcons linebacking corps, which will give him a slight leg up. But it will be a very long task to see Celestin making the final Falcons roster. His best chance is to impress in camp and try and earn a practice squad spot.
Chance of making the final 53-man roster? 2%
Those are the 14 former Gophers currently in NFL training camps. But some big names are missing from the above list. Here is an update on a few:
Eric Decker—Wide Reciever
Decker is currently a free agent after getting cut by the Tennessee Titans in the offseason. According to ESPN, “Decker campaigned publicly to sign with the New England Patriots; offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels drafted Decker in Denver. As of yet, however, the Patriots have yet to indicate strong interest.” Decker remains a free agent waiting for a NFL team to call who needs a veteran wideout late in camp.
Ra’Shede Hageman--Defensive Tackle
Big Shede has had some personal issues arise in the last few years that have made him less popular in the NFL After getting into some legal trouble a year ago which has since been resolved Hageman was cut by the Atlanta Falcons. He did not play in 2017. He worked out in May for the New England Patriots, but then in June, Hageman was arrested for Suspicion of DWI in Hennepin County. He remains unemployed.
Issac Fruechte—Wide Reciever
Fruechte spent some time on the Vikings and Lions practice squads but could not hold down a permanent job in 2017. He has quit playing football and is now the WR coach at UW-LaCrosse.
Leidner stuck with the Vikings through training camp in 2017 but could not get a spot on either the final roster or the practice squad. Leidner signed with the Spring League in Texas to try and make a comeback (as did a certain qb named Johnny Manziel) but Leidner decided to retire this summer after his long history of head injuries caught up to him.