Chippewas in the NFL: Who will make the 53-man roster?
Rookies around the National Football League are welcomed in many different ways.
Former Central Michigan wide receiver Mark Chapman was given a hideous haircut by the Denver Broncos veterans in his training camp. It's a Denver tradition that dates back to Tim Tebow's first season in the NFL. Chapman's new style features a baled top with a ring of hair around his head, like a halo.
Chapman is one of many NFL rookies hailing from CMU. He was selected No. 1 in the Canadian Football League 2018 Draft, but signed with Denver on July 26.
Tight end Tyler Conklin (Minnesota Vikings), defensive end Joe Ostman (Philadelphia Eagles), Chapman, Corey Willis (Arizona Cardinals), Amari Coleman and JP Quinn remain in the mix to make an NFL active roster, but the journey will not be effortless as training camp has officially concluded and the preseason is underway.
Each NFL team is authorized 53 players on its active roster, plus a five-person practice squad.
Here are my predictions for the remaining CMU rookies in the NFL:
The 90-man training camp roster for the Vikings included six tight ends — Blake Bell, Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Hoppes, David Morgan, Josiah Price and Conklin.
Three players will likely come from the tight end position. Bell, Hoppes and Price should get cut, meaning Rudolph, Morgan and Conklin would make the roster.
In 28 games in three seasons for CMU, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound tight end caught 83 passes for 1,159 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“They are a perfect fit for me by the fact that they are a Super Bowl contender, they signed Kurt Cousins, who likes his tight ends, and they have a vision for me," Conklin told CM-Life.
The interior offensive lineman options include Tom Compton, Cornelius Edison, Pat Elflein, Danny Isidora, Josh Andrews, Colby Gossett, Chris Gonzalez and Quinn.
Despite Quinn's cultivation on the field at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, he will probably be one of those four players cut. Just as the Colts dropped him, so will the Vikings.
The Eagles featured 88 players in training camp, signifying 35 need to be cut.
Philadelphia has its defensive end position players basically set in stone with Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett, Chris Long and Josh Sweat.
This means Ostman will not be found on the reigning NFL champions' 53-man roster once the NFL regular season opens.
However, after recording 63 tackles, 13 sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles in his senior season for the Chippewas, Philadelphia should keep Ostman on the five-man practice squad.
“The Eagles reached out first, and they were anxious to get me out there,” Ostman told CM-Life after signing with the Eagles.
In Chapman's ballgame, he is one of 12 receivers on the Broncos preseason roster.
The others encompass Bryce Bobo, River Cracraft, John Diarse, DaeSean Hamilton, Jordan Leslie, Isaiah McKenzie, Tim Patrick, Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, Demaryius Thomas and DeAndre White.
Being the No. 1 overall CFL pick, expect to be shocked if Denver did not add Chapman to the 53-man roster.
In Chapman's first preseason game for the Broncos, he caught two passes for 16 yards. In three full seasons with the Chippewas, the 6-foot, 180 pounder caught 146 passes for 2,031 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Expect the Broncos to take six wide receivers, of which one being Chapman.
Willis is another CMU wide receiver fighting for one of six projected spots on the Cardinals 53-man roster.
In Arizona's 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, Willis was not targeted.
Forecast Larry Fitzgerald, Brice Butler, Chad Williams, Christian Kirk and Trent Sherfield to make the NFL roster, while Willis would be an exceptional candidate for the practice team.
“(My agents) researched and looked at the guys who they had on the team and the receivers on the roster," Willis told CM-Life after being signed. "After that, they figured it was the best chance for me to make an NFL team. Arizona was a team I wanted to play for since the start, so it was an exciting time.”
Willis made 161 receptions for 2,384 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Chippewas.
If the Cardinals decide to cut him from the roster, another team will doubtlessly sweep in and pick him up.
Along with Quinn, Coleman is one former Chippewa who is likely to be cut from his NFL team's roster without a practice squad opportunity.
The Buccaneers are predicted to add five cornerbacks — Brent Grimes, Vernon Hargreaves, Carlton Davis, M.J. Stewart and Ryan Smith — to the active 53-man roster.
Coleman, like he was with the Lions, will probably be chopped from Tampa Bay some point prior to the first week of the NFL regular season.
Making 141 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, one sack, 29 passes defended, eight sacks, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble for the Chippewas, Coleman could become a big-time name in the CFL or Arena Football League.