Knapp, Pflugrad sign free agent contracts

For players that didn't have the benefit of being invited to February's NFL combine, their Pro Day performance was crucial in their chances of grabbing the attention of NFL teams. On March 16th former ASU players Dan Knapp and Aaron Pflugrad certainly turned some heads and consequently tonight signed free agent contracts with the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles respectively.

 

Offensive lineman Dan Knapp, who began his Sun Devil tenure playing tight end the first two years, drew rave reviews from his March 16th performance. Knapp put up 41 reps on the bench press which would have led all offensive linemen at the NFL combine, and just as impressive the 6-5 304-pound Knapp ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.9 second range.

He said at the time that he hadn't heard from any NFL teams, and needless to say that quickly changed in the days to follow. However, Knapp he admitted that he the Raiders were one of his less aggressive suitors.

"The Raiders did kind of come at me from left field," Knapp said. "I've been talking to some teams for three, four weeks like the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons. The Raiders just came into the picture a week ago but showed a lot of interest in me."

"I'm excited to be a Raider and it's great that they're located just a three-hour drive from my family in Reno. The coaches said that they like my athleticism and versatility. Their depth also gives me a great chance to compete for a spot there."

Knapp said that the dialogue he had with several teams today led him to believe that he had a good chance of being drafted in the later rounds, but at the same time he wasn't disappointed at the least by being offered a free agent contract.

"I knew that all I needed was one shot and I got my shot," Knapp stated. "Sometimes getting picked in the 7th round can be a disadvantage. As a priority free agent you get to pick the team you want to go to and maybe even have a better chance of getting on the field.

"I really think things worked in my favor. They have a new coach and new GM and those are the guys that are bringing me in. They are taking a lot of pride in who they pick and that can give me a better chance of getting on the field. I also like the zone scheme that they run because that is something I feel very comfortable playing in."

One of Knapp's closest friends on the ASU team is former quarterback Brock Osweiler and the lineman was actually with the Sun Devil signal caller when he was selected by the Denver Broncos in the second round on Friday. Without knowing what would transpire some 24 hours later, the two had a conversation that proved to be prophetic as they pictured themselves on both sides of a fierce AFC West rivalry.

"It was funny because after he got picked by the Broncos," Knapp recalled, "I told him wouldn't it be a joke if I got picked by the Raiders, and then we gave each other the mean eye. I said ‘see you on the field.'

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Much like Knapp, Aaron Pflugrad took full advantage of Arizona State's Pro day. The 5-10 182-pound wide receiver was impressive on the bench press posting 22 reps, as well as recording a 40-yard time in the low 4.5's and a 35-inch vertical leap.

Pflugrad wasn't sure if he was going to get drafted in the later rounds today, but he was extremely optimistic that he was going to land a free agent deal.

"It feels great signing with the Eagles," said Pflugrad. "I'm very grateful to have this opportunity and am excited to head out there. I haven't heard from the Eagles at all before the draft, but Marty Mornhinweg, their offensive coordinator, has ties to Montana where I grew up so he has heard about me. I actually trained down here (in Tempe) with their backup quarterback, Mike Kafka.

"So this is a good situation for me. It's all about getting an opportunity and I feel very blessed to get that chance. I'm ready to get out there and work my butt off."

Pflugrad said that the Eagles were impressed with his senior game film, a campaign where he collected 44 receptions for 665 yards and scored five touchdowns.

"They throw the ball around quite a bit," Pflugrad said of the Eagles' offense. "Their team needs wide receivers and I feel I can make an impact with them. There were other teams that said that they were going to contact me, but at the end of the day I'm happy that the Eagles called me first and offered me a contract. I'm very happy to be an Eagle.

"It's also great to see a lot of our guys getting picked up (as free agents) by other teams. It's good to see Sun Devils getting opportunities."

According to various reports the following ASU players have also signed NFL free agent contracts today:

WR Gerell Robinson – Denver Broncos

LB Vontaze BurfictCincinnati Bengals

LB Colin Parker – Arizona Cardinals

OL Garth GerhartCleveland Browns

DL Jamaar Jarrett – St. Louis Rams

OL Aderious SimmonsNew Orleans Saints

LB Shelly LyonsMiami Dolphins

Safety Eddie Elder received an invitation to the Arizona Cardinals' rookie mini-camp May 11-13. His performance at that event could lead a contract offer.


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