Duke Football: Blue Devils Place Nine on NFL Rosters

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

As each year goes by the list of new accomplishments by the Duke Football program continues to grow.  2015 is no different.  Including the NFL Draft and the subsequent free agent acquisition period this week, nine members of the 2015 class have found their way to an NFL roster.  Two players were drafted and seven were signed to free agency contracts this week.

Offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson became the first Blue Devil to be selected in the first round since 1987 when the Detroit Lions selected him with the 28th pick.  Jamison Crowder had to wait until day 3, but had his name called early when Washington picked him with the 105th pick not long into the fourth round.  It didn’t take long for the news of each free agent transaction to be released.

Duke’s all time wins leader, quarterback Anthony Boone, will be joining Tomlinson in Detroit.  Crowder will be joined by former left tackle Takoby Cofield in Washington.  Cofield was a big target in post draft free agency, and as a result netted the biggest guaranteed contract of all undrafted free agents.  Crowder’s wideout partner Issac Blakeney was signed by the San Francisco 49ers.  Blakeney’s size and athleticism make him an intriguing NFL prospect.  While his career production in Durham didn’t necessarily match his potential, Blakeney showed flashes of brilliance during his senior season and surely caught the eyes of several NFL scouts.  Josh Snead was the last offensive player from Duke to receive a free agent contract when he was signed by the Denver Broncos.  Snead will join former teammates Juwan Thompson and Kenny Anunike in Denver.

Duke also saw several players on the defensive side of the ball make their way to the next level.  The ACC’s leading tackler for the last two seasons, David Helton, signed with the New York Jets and defensive end Dezmond Johnson signed with the Cinncinatti Bengals.  Johnson will join former Blue Devil standout Vincent Rey.  Fellow defensive end Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo was also signed to a free agent deal.  JDO will be joining the Philadelphia Eagles.

When it was all said and done every Duke player that participated in Duke’s Pro Day event was signed by an NFL team.

Tomlinson and Crowder are virtually guaranteed to remain on the rosters of their respective teams based on their draft status.  The rest of the guys will have to prove their worth in training camp and offseason workouts.

In a matter of just a few days Duke more the doubled the number of former players in the NFL.  Time will tell how many of these former Dukies can hold on to their spots, but if their drive and work ethic over the last four years is any indication it won’t be easy to beat out these Blue Devils for a place on the roster.