The NFL preseason is in the books. The final cuts have been made and the rosters are set. With Thursday’s kickoff between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles looming, let’s take a closer look at the 2018 NFL rosters.
There are 80 former DII football players on current NFL rosters, down from the 90 that opened up the 2017 season*. Some have made themselves household names, like Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler and 2017 breakout star Adam Thielen. Others are rookies simply looking for a chance, like 2018 Harlon Hill winner and national champion quarterback Luis Perez.
Here’s a closer look at former DII players on NFL rosters by the numbers:
1 — Quarterback on a roster. That honor goes to Texas A&M-Commerce’s Luis Perez. It’s rare for a DII quarterback to get a chance, even if it’s on the practice roster like Perez. Last year, there were no DII quarterbacks in the NFL.
3 — The number of players who kick a football. The Los Angeles Rams’ Greg Zuerlein out of Missouri Western has a Pro Bowl appearance to his name.
5 — The number of former DII linebackers and running backs each in the NFL. Tiffin’s Chris Ivory earned a Pro Bowl trip in 2015 with a 1,000-yard season.
6 — NFL teams without a single DII player on its roster. The Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, and Washington Redskins had some in camp, but none made the final cut.
7 — The number of former DII players the Indianapolis Colts roster, more than any other team in the NFL. The Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a close second with six apiece.
8 — Tight ends on NFL rosters that played DII football. Central Missouri’s Delanie Walker may be the best known of the bunch.
12 — Former defensive linemen on NFL rosters.
14 — Wide receivers on NFL rosters. West Alabama’s Tyreek Hill is a star in the making, already with two All-Pro appearances, while the aforementioned Thielen is widely considered one of the better receivers in football.
2009: Adam Thielen’s only option was a $500 scholarship at Minnesota State.
2014-16: Vikings paid him $1.5M total
2017: Gets $11M guarantee
11/23/17: Becomes 1st Viking since Randy Moss to have 1,000 yards receiving before end of November. pic.twitter.com/rcHe6BNenS
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) November 24, 2017
16 — The most populous positions on NFL rosters go to defensive backs and offensive linemen. Twelve-year veteran, four-time Pro-Bowler, and former Shippensburg star Brent Grimes may be the best of the bunch.
(* Note: All rosters per NFL.com. Rosters included injured reserved and practice squad players and are noted in the list below. Several teams were still at 52 spots on their rosters, while others had not filled out their practice squads at the time of the release of this article. Those updates will be made as we are made aware of them.)
|Dennis Gardeck||LB||Sioux Falls||NSIC|
|Will House *||OL||Southern Nazarene||GAC|
|Zack Moore||DE||Concordia-St. Paul||NSIC|
|Brandon Fusco||G||Slippery Rock||PSAC|
|Ryan Schraeder||T||Valdosta State||GSC|
|Justin Zimmer||DL||Ferris State||GLIAC|
|John Brown||WR||Pittsburg State||MIAA|
|Brandon Carr||CB||Grand Valley State||GLIAC|
|Matthew Judon||OLB||Grand Valley State||GLIAC|
|Zack Seiler||DT||Ferris State||GLIAC|
|Brandon Williams||DT||Missouri Southern||MIAA|
|Deon Lacey||LB||West Alabama||GSC|
|Khari Lee||TE||Bowie State||CIAA|
|Alex Armah||RB||West Georgia||GSC|
|Amini Silatolu||T||Midwestern State||LSC|
|Eric Kush||OG||California (PA)||PSAC|
|Adam Shaheen (IR)||TE||Ashland||GLIAC|
|C.J. Goodwin*||CB||California (PA)||PSAC|
|Chris Okoye (IR)||DT||Ferris State||GLIAC|
|Kevin Bowen||OL||East Central||GAC|
|Desmond Harrison||OL||West Georgia||GSC|
|Tavierre Thomas||DB||Ferris State||GLIAC|
|Jeff Heath||S||Saginaw Valley State||GLIAC|
|Marquette King||P||Fort Valley State||SIAC|
|Tyrell Adams (IR)||LB||West Georgia||GSC|
|Denzelle Good||T/G||Mars Hill||SAC|
|Kenny Moore II||CB||Valdosta State||GSC|
|Grover Stewart||DT||Albany State||SIAC|
|J’Marcus Webb||T||West Texas A&M||LSC|
|Jared Machorro (IR)||T||Texas A&M-Commerce||LSC|
|Keelan Cole||WR||Kentucky Wesleyan||G-MAC|
|Chris Reed||OL||Minnesota State||NSIC|
|Kansas City Chiefs|
|Tyreek Hill||WR||West Alabama||GSC|
|Josh Crockett||WR||Central Oklahoma||MIAA|
|Los Angeles Chargers|
|Austin Ekeler||RB||Western State||RMAC|
|J.J. Jones||WR||West Georgia||GSC|
|Tyrell Williams||WR||Western Oregon||GNAC|
|Los Angeles Rams|
|Marqui Christian||S||Midwestern State||LSC|
|Morgan Fox (IR)||DE||Colorado State-Pueblo||RMAC|
|Matt Longacre||OLB||Northwest Missouri State||MIAA|
|Luis Perez*||QB||Texas A&M-Commerce||LSC|
|Ethan Westbrooks||DE||West Texas A&M||LSC|
|Greg Zuerlein||K||Missouri Western||MIAA|
|William Hayes||DE||Winston-Salem State||SIAC|
|C.J. Ham||RB||Augustana (SD)||NSIC|
|Adam Thielen||WR||Minnesota State||NSIC|
|New York Giants|
|Michael Jordan||CB||Missouri Western||MIAA|
|New York Jets|
|Trenton Cannon||RB||Virginia State||CIAA|
|Rontez Miles (PUP)||S||California (PA)||PSAC|
|Mike Pennel||DL||Colorado State-Pueblo||RMAC|
|Nathan Shepherd||DL||Fort Hays State||MIAA|
|Paul Butler*||TE||California (PA)||PSAC|
|Erik Harris||S||California (PA)||PSAC|
|Seth Roberts||WR||West Alabama||GSC|
|De’Vante Bausby||CB||Pittsburg State||MIAA|
|Marcus Tucker (IR)||WR||Northern Michigan||GLIAC|
|David Moore||WR||East Central||GAC|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Alex Cappa||OL||Humboldt State||GNAC|
|Tanner Hudson*||TE||Southern Arkansas||GAC|
|Ryan Jensen||CB||Colorado State-Pueblo||RMAC|
|Freddie Martino||WR||North Greenville||GSC|
|Leonard Webster||T||Missouri Western||MIAA|
|Malcolm Butler||CB||West Alabama||GSC|
|Jerome Cunningham||TE||Southern Connecticut State||NE10|
|Johnny Maxey||DL||Mars Hill||GSC|
|Delanie Walker||TE||Central Missouri||MIAA|
|* = Practice squad|