The NFL season is set to begin next weekend and final 53 man rosters were set for all 32 teams over the past two days. From a Rutgers perspective, it was a good weekend, as four rookies who played on last year’s team made the final cut for their respective teams. Overall, fifteen players from the program made their current team’s opening day roster for the 2018 campaign.
As for the rookies, second round draft pick Kemoko Turay expectingly made the Indianapolis Colts and is expected to start at defensive end. Sebastian Joseph-Day made the Los Angeles Rams after being selected in the sixth round in April. He be a backup on a defensive line that includes Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh.
The surprise news was that free agent rookies, Janarion Grant and Robert Martin, beat the odds and made their respective clubs final roster. Grant is expected to be a primary returner in the kicking game for the Baltimore Ravens, as well as a backup receiver. Martin made the New York Giants, despite seeing limited action in late August after a strong start to preseason.
Grant made several catches in the preseason, but was most useful to the Ravens as a returner. After suffering a serious ankle injury during the 2016 season and struggling to regain his form in his final year at Rutgers, it is rather significant that Grant was able to make an NFL roster as a free agent player. It’s a great story and one Rutgers fans will be happy to hear and tell, as Grant is a likeable kid who always seemed like he deserved better throughout his career in regards to his health, his supporting cast, and play calling at Rutgers. Say what you want about former offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer, but he was the only one during Grant’s career to use him in a way he could approach his full potential. Unfortunately he got hurt in the fourth game against Iowa, but he was on pace for a monster 2016 season. It’s certainly a feel good story regarding his success in Baltimore and hopefully he can solidify a spot on the roster with his return game.
Martin finished the preseason with 97 yards on 6.5 yards per carry and had two catches for 11 yards. Here he is running for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions.
ROBERT MARTIN PUTTING IN WORK WITH THE GIANTS pic.twitter.com/zBBd3IStKA— UNDEFEATED RU Stool (@BarstoolRU) August 18, 2018
Martin was limited in the last two preseason games due to an ankle injury, making only 3 carries combined. However, the Giants were apparently impressed enough by his work during training camp that he made a final group of five running backs, including top pick and former Penn State star Saquon Barkley. Martin was another talented Rutgers player who always seemed like things didn’t work out the way it should have after a monster freshman season. Martin was solid overall during his Rutgers career, but conceded the lead runner role to Miami grad transfer Gus Edwards in his senior season. Regardless, Martin was able to make the most of his opportunity with the Giants and defied the odds by making the 53 man roster.
UPDATE 9/5: Martin was cut by the Giants and is waiting to clear waivers. Martin was then signed by the Giants to the practice squad.
Speaking of Edwards, he was one of the final cuts of the Baltimore Ravens. However, he was signed back by them to their practice squad, so give Edwards credit for sticking with the organization as an undrafted free agent as well.
Other former Rutgers players who were cut, but signed to practice squads include Leonte Carroo (Miami Dolphins) and Andre Patton (San Diego Chargers).
Overall, there are 15 former Scarlet Knights who made the final 53 man roster of various NFL teams. Joining the 4 rookies are veterans Duron Harmon, Jason and Devin McCourty with the New England Patriots, Clark Harris and Tyler Kroft with the Cincinnati Bengals, Michael Burton and Marcus Cooper of the Chicago Bears, Logan Ryan with the Tennessee Titans, Mohamed Sanu of the Atlanta Falcons, Andrew DePaola with the Oakland Raiders, and Steve Longa with the Detroit Lions,
Notable free agents include a pair of former Rutgers receivers in Kenny Britt and Brandon Coleman. Other Scarlet Knights available as of this posting (12:30 a.m. September 3rd) after being cut include another receiver in Carlton Agudosi, as well as Tim Wright, George Johnson, Kaleb Johnson, and Jonathan Freeny.
We will report roster updates as they occur and will keep track of all of the current Knights in the NFL this season. Good luck to all of the former Rutgers players set to play on Sundays in 2018.