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NFL rookie minicamps: Rutgers reset

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Denman to join Patton, Agudosi, Muller, Cioffi, James

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Rutgers
Denman joins Muller at an NFL rookie camp.
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Steeves (RutgersNation86) previously covered which former Scarlet Knights had signed undrafted free agent rookie deals or were offered a try out. Unfortunately for the Scarlet Knight football community, more signatures were not put on paper until it was reported in the last 24 hours by Ryan Dunleavy that JJ Denman received a try out with the Buffalo Bills. We also previously published recap of pro day performances that led to many of those. Here we will review the dates and “fit” for those at mini camps, plus chances for the others still pursuing their NFL dream.

Carlton Agudosi is participating in the Arizona Cardinals rookie minicamp beginning yesterday, May 12. Anthony Cioffi on the other hand participated in Raiders camp earlier this week. The full NFL team by team off-season calendars here.

Howard v Rutgers
Agudosi dons a different shade of red with Arizona.
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Carlton Agudosi, Arizona Cardinals

An optimist can’t compare his career to Tim Wright's enough. A prospect the staff always seemed to want to get on the field, he never really found a role in a crowded receiver corps. There were plenty of flashes for Carlton like his relief role of an injured Leonte Carroo and carrying the Knights comeback along with several defenders on his large shoulders multiple times in the 4th quarter in the 2015 historic comeback at Indiana.

The Cardinals disappointed heavily in 2016 after a conference title game appearance following the 2015 season. They are looking for ways to add more wrinkles to an offense that looked completely stale in that ugly 6-6 tie with Seattle last season. One way is to try and convert another former receiver to tight end, Ricky Seals-Jones. So if Agudosi who is clearly more athletic can demonstrate an ability to simply catch the ball and understand the playbook, he should stick around. It’s also reported that the Cardinals plan to keep 5 QBs most of the off-season, and they will need bodies to catch the ball so that could mean Carlton sticks around and for an undrafted rookie all he can ask for is time. The ceiling is a role like Wright or Brandon Coleman in short yardage or the red zone. Carson Palmer if healthy can get the ball to big receivers and still has a big arm.

Andre Patton, Los Angeles Chargers

It is still weird to type “Los Angeles” in front of Chargers as I was not around during the first year of the AFL in 1960, but I think this is a great situation for Andre. Coming out of high school, the Delaware Mr. Basketball had tremendous athletic ability and when he had the ball seemingly could not be tackled due to his size and strength. That was on full display in his breakout late in the 2014 season when he simply couldn’t be stopped alongside Leonte Carroo in the season’s final two games. He never really developed a repore with the quarterbacks after Gary Nova graduated, but still served as the team’s number one receiver in 2016.

The Chargers are a team that throws the ball a lot with Philip Rivers under center. Being in the best division in the NFL the last two seasons, they happen to be trailing a lot and need to throw even more. I like the fit because the Chargers have had success with bigger, athletic receivers who may or may not have had great college careers. Not just the miracle of Antonio Gates, but Vincent Jackson had his best years in San Diego, Scott Chandler, Ladarius Green, Malcolm Floyd, etc. If you can get open, which Patton has shown when defenses were not keying on him specifically, Rivers will get you the ball. Patton has seen so many playbooks he should be able to absorb that element quickly. The upside is perhaps a 3rd or 4th wide receiver eventually if everything breaks right. They did pick Mike Williams in the first round, but he’s the only offensive skill position player drafted which should mean plenty of opportunities in rookie camp and the rest of the offseason.

Rutgers v Maryland
Patton grabbed 2 TDs in the historic comeback.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Chris Muller, Indianapolis Colts

You can never have enough offensive linemen and clearly the Colts did not the last two seasons. Andrew Luck was battered and the Colts failed to beat out a Texans team who won back to back division titles with average at best QB play themselves. Muller came to Rutgers as a 4 star recruit and started for four years at right guard. He brings plenty of experience that Andrew Luck may appreciate in the huddle potentially. The Colts value smart, experience players and Muller has a chance to fit the bill.

Anthony Cioffi, Oakland Raiders

Our friends at Silver and Black Pride offered their assessment of Anthony. They mentioned the longtime family friendship with Mike Tice as a reason Anthony choose Oakland from a list of a few suitors. His speed and ball skills have been mentioned at length meaning he likely could catch on in the NFL.

The team fit here starts with the Raiders being a good football team. A season ago they won their division despite losing so many defensive backs to injury that often they would have to start safeties at cornerback. When you generally have the lead and opponents are forced to throw your team ends up in a lot of sub packages which the Raiders had trouble fielding in 2016. Oakland has long been home to players cast off by other clubs and those with a lot of speed. Cioffi’s versatility could help the Silver and Black and honestly could you picture any Knight of the last few years looking more like a Raider?

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Indiana
James donned his familiar superman cape, taking it to the house to tie Indiana late in the 4th.
Matt Kryger-USA TODAY Sports

Paul James, Seattle Seahawks

There is likely not a better opportunity for Paul anywhere else in the league. Seattle has struggled to replace Marshawn Lynch since he departed. The perennial Division champs and dark horse super bowl contender have had plenty of players carry the ball, but have struggled to find a playmaker alongside Russell Wilson. Javon Kearse and Jimmy Graham came along in the second half of 2016 which should open up the running game. James surely can make defenders miss and catch the ball out of the backfield. With his size and injury history he will never be an every down back, but anyone who ever watched him play knows he could be effective on 3rd downs.

J.J. Denman, Buffalo Bills

As mentioned above, Denman is a participant in Bills rookie camp this weekend. The Bills have 58 players in camp and are in what seems to their fan base like never ending rebuilding mode. Like the others on this list, I can’t think of a better team fit for J.J. It’s not secret Buffalo has the worst weather in the NFL especially for an outdoor team so to have any level of success they need to run the ball. A four star recruit who started parts of three seasons, the growth opportunity of moving inside to guard may allow him to stick. At Rutgers Denman was not going to move Muller and later Miller from guard so he might have more ability than we saw to play inside. He surely has NFL size.

Derrick Nelson, free agent

It had been reported that Nelson signed with the Baltimore Ravens. Though details are hard to come by it looks more like he was offered a tryout and ultimately was not offered a contract. Nevertheless as a starting center of a Big Ten program for two seasons, he likely could get another shot elsewhere. As a steady performer who never gets too high, or too low he will roll with the punches.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Rutgers
Even an injured Hamilton inflicted plenty of punishment.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Recovery from injury

Darius Hamilton based on pedigree and status as a 5 star recruit out of high school looked destined for an NFL career at every stop along the way. Had he gone pro after the 2014 season, he may have been drafted. But injuries to both needs took their toll and it dramatically impacted his production. Hopefully at full health he can demonstrate enough burst to get a look.

Quanzell Lambert is coming off a knee injury as well. Readers of our site know I like Lambert and feel he may be the best pro prospect from the 2016 Rutgers squad. Nothing has been reported as of yet, but his football sense and versatility would make him attractive to me if I were a GM. Health though is a concern.

Greg Jones has been cleared as per Ryan Dunleavy of nj.com, but will pursue a 6th year of college eligibility. If the NCAA does not grant him one, he may may follow the Paul James path. James did not try for a 6th year eligibility, but as listed above once he recovered fully from injury is getting a look in the NFL. We posted a poll in our recent article announcing Ron’Dell Carter’s transfer, the fans spoke up and feel strongly Chris Ash should give Jones a scholarship.

Others:

Kevin Marquez. His chances may have been artificially inflated in the media (including me) from the fullbacks signing contracts. He did back it up with a borderline spectacular pro day. Perhaps he’s a two way player in another league?

Vance Matthews and Marcus Parker, no news reported for the former walk-ons. I saw a note that Matthews was looking toward a coaching career, but nothing to indicate he wouldn’t be willing to pursue more playing days.

Kaiwan Lewis, more than a year removed from his final down has not been reported to have tried out anywhere.

Khaseem Greene had signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, but was reportedly cut this week due too an off-field incident.

Rutgers v Minnesota
Marquez had a nice game when pressed into duty at LB.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images