The 2015 NFL Draft has come and gone. Marshall had one player drafted in the seven round event. Defensive back Darryl Roberts was taken in the final round by the New England Patriots. The Patriots have had a history with Marshall players in the past, and continued that trend this past weekend with the Roberts selection.
The Herd also had four other players sign free agent contracts within hours of the draft’s completion. Neville Hewitt, the CUSA defensive player of the year signed with the Miami Dolphins. Eric Frohnapfel signed with the San Diego Chargers, Chris Jasperse inked a deal with the Cincinnati Bengals and James Rouse will be in camp with the Houston Texans.
Two of the most decorated players in Marshall history, not just in the school record books, but with All Conference honors and awards, wide receiver Tommy Shuler and quarterback Rakeem Cato remained unsigned. Is the reason their size, or lack there of? These two players have competed and succeeded at every level in which they have played together.
Marshall will head into the 2015 season with a plethora of players who will have a chance to make it to the next level. Will they be drafted or signed as free agents remains to be seen.
Here is a look at a few of them that could very well have a chance to hear their name called in twelve months.
Davonte Allen – Allen is a 6’2”, 201 pound wide receiver from talent rich Glades Central High School in Belle Glade, Florida. Allen is extremely athletic, can run, and has big hands. He can make all of the catches, the question is, can he put together one final, full, complete season, void of any injuries or moments when he disappears. If he can do that, there is no doubt, Allen will put up numbers worthy of being looked at by the NFL.
Keith Baxter – Baxter has very little game film to go off of right now. Baxter came into Marshall with his head coach talking about how he would be a great cornerback. Nagging injuries have kept Baxter off of the field for the better part of his career. This spring, the 6’0”, 195 pound corner remained healthy and started to show why he could be one of the conference’s best defensive backs.
Taj Letman – Letman is a 6’2”, 189 pound safety who came to Marshall via the JUCO route. Prior to him signing with the Herd, he was the one player that the coaching staff was worried, could flip. Letman injured his hand in junior college and several big name P5 schools backed off, Marshall swooped in. Letman is P5 talent, and has the build to play at the next level. He has proven that he can stay healthy, and is always around the football.
D.J. Hunter – Hunter has a long and storied past, starting in high school, and leading to his eventual arrival at Marshall. It is the type of story that seems made to be told during the live coverage of the draft. Hunter is a 6’0”, 209 pound linebacker who is built and plays a little like former Dallas Cowboy Roy Williams. Hunter has played safety in college as well, and done it very well.
Evan McKelvey – McKelvey is the younger brother of former Baltimore Rave safety Omar Brown. McKelvey in bigger and more athletic than Brown, standing 6’2”, and 213 pounds. The question is health. McKevley is returning for his fifth year at Marshall after going down with an injury last year.
Clint Van Horn – Van Horn is just going to be a two year starter at Marshall, but the in state native has all the measurable to get a shot at the next level. Van Horn is 6’5”, and 295 pounds.
Jarquez Samuel – Samuel is a large defensive tackle with very good feet and length. Samuel is 6’4”, and 290 pounds and could play anywhere across the line with his size and athletic ability.
Devon Johnson – Johnson burst onto the scene, literally, and figuratively, last season. Johnson had an incredible 2014 season. He ended the year with 1,767 yards rushing on 206 carries and 17 touchdowns. There can’t be any question regarding his power or size, standing at 6’1”, and 246 pounds. He has also proven he can catch the ball as he is a converted tight end.
Matt Cincotta – Most of you might be saying, wait a minute, who? Well, that right there could be one reason why he could get a shot. The one thing that could hurt him is the fact he barely weighs 200 pounds. Cincotta is the four year long snapper for the Herd. The fact that many people have no idea who he is could be his biggest attribute. Very few, if any, bad snaps in his career.
In my opinion, the one player in the class of 2016 who could have the longest NFL Career is senior punter Tyler Williams. Williams does nothing but absolutely boom punts. High towering, deep, effortless punts. Williams has been an incredible weapon at Marshall and he has NFL size for the position at 6’0”, 200 pounds.
Where will these guys, and others go? Time will tell, there are several others that could push their way into those categories with big years, Steward Butler being one of those.
Stay tuned to Herdhaven for further updates.
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