Last weekend was a tough one for the Virginia Tech football program. For the first time since 1993, the Hokies did not have one single player drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft. The most draftable players were offensive tackle Yosuah Nijman and defensive tackle Ricky Walker.
While those two weren’t drafted, it didn’t take them long to find a home as Nijman quickly signed with the Packers after the draft. It’s an excellent opportunity for Nijman as the depth in Green Bay isn’t great and his experience playing both tackle spots could help him land a spot on the 53-man roster.
Rookie free agent Yosh Nijman of Va. Tech played all 639 snaps at RT allowing (12) total pressures and (1) sack in 2018. In his previous three seasons, Nijman logged 1,844 snaps at LT and another 18 as a inline TE. #Packers pic.twitter.com/4yiJhNTQLT— PFF GB Packers (@PFF_Packers) May 3, 2019
Walker, meanwhile, announced he had signed with the Dallas Cowboys. While some would consider Walker a bit undersized, he is actually an ideal fit for Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s scheme. Marinelli is one of the better defensive coaches in the league and is known for getting the most out of his players. Dallas has a major need at defensive tackle and Walker’s quickness could give him a shot of at least earning a spot on the practice squad.
Former Hokie offensive lineman Kyle Chung signed with the Chicago Bears. Chung’s experience working at numerous positions on the offensive line in Blacksburg could help him push for a spot with the Bears.
Other former Hokies were invited to different camps on a tryout basis as Steven Peoples and Vinny Mihota both earned invites to the Arizona Cardinals’ minicamp. Braxton Pfaff received invites from both the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Injuries really derailed Mihota’s career with the Hokies. He was set for a big senior season but struggled to stay on the field and was likely off the radar of NFL teams.
While many will point to the streak ending, remember, the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Tennessee Volunteers also failed to have players drafted. It was the first time since the early 1960s Nebraska did not have a player drafted. And considering how the recruiting services ranked Tennessee’s classes four and five years ago, that’s a massive failure by that program.
For the Hokies, it happened for a number of reasons. Recruiting did slack off in Frank Beamer’s later years and while there has been some positive momentum in the last two classes under Justin Fuente, more work must be done. Also, the Hokies did lose quite a bit of talent last year, especially with underclassmen like Tremaine and Terrell Edmunds, Tim Settle and Adonis Alexander.
Anyhow, best of luck to these six Hokies as they look to achieve their dreams at the next level.