Welcome Hokie faithful! August means a couple of things. Back-to-school sales, particularly warm summer days, Fantasy Football drafts, and NFL Training Camps! Gobbler Country takes a moment to look at how former Hokie standouts are performing in the NFL. We begin our exploration with the offense.
Tyrod Taylor: Taylor is embroiled in a training camp battle for the position of starting QB in Buffalo. Although new head coach Rex Ryan states that it is a three way battle for the starting job, based on training camp repetitions the reality is that E.J. Manuel will most likely not start for the Bills next year. Matt Cassel was impressive in the first preseason game, but Rex Ryan has named Tyrod the starter for the second preseason outing. It seems that the competition is fixed between Taylor and Cassel. Cassel has starting experience and seems to be the safe bet, but Tyrod has shown flashes of brilliance that may earn him the starting job in Ryan’s new offense. This training camp battle is, far and away, the most interesting and intense of all the VT Hokies currently in the NFL.
Logan Thomas: Drafted as a developmental player, Thomas continues to show improvement. He had a solid preseason outing as a rookie and this year he has continued that trend. That being said, Thomas simply is not in a position to challenge for the starting job. Although it is extremely early, the first depth chart, released by the Cardinals, has Logan listed as the third QB.
Michael Vick: The 35 year old veteran hopes to find a place on an NFL team this year. After the inexplicable altercation involving Geno Smith there was discussion that Vick might end up back with the Jets. In the end, that relationship did not pan out. There is a lot of training camp, and even more season left, but currently the most famous and exciting Virginia Tech player, in history, does not have a home in the NFL.
Jarrett Boykin: Jarrett Boykin had minimal impact during his three years with Green Bay. His best year was 2013 when he hauled in 49 receptions for 681 yards. In the other two years, 2012 and 2014, he played in 23 games, but only caught a total of eight passes for 60 yards. The initial Panthers preseason depth chart projection has Boykin listed in the WR corps. Boykin had one reception for 16 yards in the Panther’s preseason loss to Buffalo, and is locked in a battle to make the team.
Josh Morgan: The Saints have a substantial amount of young, exciting players at wide receiver. Morgan has experience that could help New Orleans develop its younger corps, but there is a lot of talent on roster. As training camp and the preseason continue we can hope that there is a place on the roster for the NFL veteran.
Eddie Royal: Royal had a fantastic rookie year when QB Jay Cutler was throwing to him. That was the first and last year Eddie and Jay worked together before Cutler was shipped off to the Bears. Cutler and Royal have been reunited in Chicago, and the team hopes that they rediscover the chemistry they had in Royal’s rookie season. Royal is pretty much a lock to remain on the Bears’ roster.
Ryan Williams: Ryan Williams has been plagued by injuries for his entire NFL career, and was released by the Dallas Cowboys earlier this summer.
Nick Becton: Undrafted Hokie rookie, Becton, will be fighting for a spot on the New Orleans roster or with the practice squad this season.
Duane Brown: Pro-Bowler Duane Brown will continue to start on the offensive line of the Houston Texans. Brown was featured in the first episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks, which follows the Houston Texans during their 2015 training camp.
Laurence Gibson: Dallas’ seventh round draft pick is currently listed on the Cowboy’s initial roster projection and will continue to compete for a place on the team.
Vinston Painter: Originally drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2013, he has been with the Browns since 2014. ESPN has him listed on the Brown's initial projected roster.
Kyshoen Jarrett: Rookie Kyshoen Jarrett is turning heads in Washington and certainly seems to have a place on the team. With the injuries suffered by the Redskins, in the secondary, Jarrett should see increased looks in the Redskin’s defense.
DeAngelo Hall: Another Hokie on the 'skins, Hall suffered a season-ending injury when he tore his Achilles tendon last year. Nobody doubts the pro-bowlers talent and experience, but he has suffered some injuries in this year’s training camp, which has caused some concern about his durability. The Redskins are developing young talent at CB, and there are rumors that Hall could potentially see a transition to Safety. Either way, barring significant injury, Hall will have a place on the Washington defense.
Brandon Flowers: Flowers cut his teeth in Kansas City for six successful seasons before moving to San Diego last year. During his time Flowers has been a solid player for both teams, and ESPN considers his pairing with Jason Verrett one of the best CB combos in the league.
Kyle Fuller: The second year corner is making a splash at Chicago and should be put in a position to have a significant impact on the Chicago defense.
Jayron Hosley: Hosley was one of four Giant’s DBs to be injured in their preseason opener. Hosley is already on the hot seat and this setback is not going to help his case to stay in NY. ESPN’s initial roster projection has him being cut.
Kam Chancellor: Kam is not only VT’s premier active DB, but also one of the premier safeties in the league. His holdout continues.
Antone Exum Jr: Antone made some waves, in the preseason, against Tampa Bay when he intercepted the current number one NFL Draft pick, Jameis Winston, in his NFL debut. The second year Vikings safety is in a competition for the starting safety spot opposite Harrison Smith.
James Gayle: Gayle was waived earlier this year by the Redskins.
Chase Williams: Chase Williams is not projected to make the Raiders’ 53 man roster, but hopefully will find a place on the practice squad.
Derrick Hopkins: The undrafted Free Agent will likely be fighting for a roster spot on the Atlanta practice team.
Daryl Tapp: Tapp enters this season with something to prove. Last year he was waived by Detroit for three days, and then reacquired by the Lions. The NFL veteran has engaged, during training camp, with renewed vigor, and is expected to maintain his spot on the team.
There is a tremendous amount of time left during training camp and the NFL preseason. No one can ever fully predict the final rosters, but this is where former Hokies in the NFL sit. There is certainly not a dearth of Hokies making an impact in the NFL, and the excitement surrounding the battles involving the former VPI greats will continue.