Written By Lydia Knoll
As the 2016 NFL Draft comes to a close, Hoosier Nation could not be more proud with the results. With three players drafted by NFL teams, this marks the most drafted players since 2010. So far, four more players have received contracts as undrafted free agents, making for a total of seven IU football players that will appear in NFL mini camps this year.
Jason Spriggs, OT, Green Bay Packers 48th Overall
The first Hoosier off the board was offensive lineman Jason Spriggs. Springs was picked up by the Green Bay Packers in the second round as the 48th pick overall. This marks the first time since 1993-1995 that IU has had players selected in the first three rounds for three years in a row. Due to lack of depth along the Packers offensive line, Spriggs has a very good possibility of getting early playing time. His tall, lean build and versatility to play both left and right side with speed, make him the perfect candidate to protect Packers quarterback, Aaron Rogers. By the start of the season in 2017, after current tackle David Bakhtiari becomes a free agent, Spriggs is expected to be a starting tackle. His football knowledge and game maturity have the potential to make him a quick standout player in the league.
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears 150th Overall
The second Indiana player to hear his name called was running back Jordan Howard in the fifth round as the 150th overall pick. Howard was selected by the Chicago Bears. Although a knee injury that required surgery put him out for a short period during the season, the Bears still see his great potential in him becoming a powerful, strong running back on the team as long as he can stay healthy. Former Bears starting running back Matt Forte recently left the team for the New York Jets, leaving the starting spot open to 2014 draft pick Ka’Deem Carey, 2015 draft pick Jeremy Langford, and now 2016 draft pick Howard. Langford is most likely to be the starter going into the 2016 season, but Howard has a chance to fight for the spot as soon as this season.
Nate Sudfeld, QB, Washington Redskins 187th Overall
In the sixth round, as the 187th overall draft pick, Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld was taken by the Washington Redskins. Although the Redskins already have two quarterbacks on their roster with starter Kirk Cousins and backup Colt McCoy, this may actually be a blessing in disguise for Sudfeld. He will have the chance to learn underneath these more experienced veterans and improve his skills. He may not make a game appearance for a few seasons, but no doubt he will benefit from this opportunity to play professionally.
Four more Indiana players were signed after the draft. Darius Latham, defensive lineman, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Oakland Raiders who do not have a lot of depth on their d-line. Jake Reed, Indiana center, was signed by the Atlanta Falcons. He will join former IU players Tevin Coleman and Collin Rahrig, who both play for the Falcons as well. Also, Michael Cooper, tight end for the Hoosiers, was signed by the Redskins where he has an opportunity to play alongside his college QB, Sudfeld. Wrapping up the list of players headed to the NFL is DL/LB Zack Shaw who signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, joining former Hoosier long snapper Matt Dooley in the Steel City.
While the NFL Draft may seem like a culmination of hard work to people on the outside, the players know that there is still work to be done to have their dreams of playing in the NFL realized, but, for a few days at least, they can celebrate with family and friends because all of their hard work at the college level has paid off.
We at Hoosier Huddle want to wish all seven of the former Hoosiers the best of luck in the NFL and will be anxiously watching how their careers pan out.