UConn football players trying to make NFL rosters as undrafted free agents


Pictured: Noel Thomas, UConn wide receiver at UConn's Pro Scouting Day in Shenkman Training Center March 22, 2017. (Amar Batra/ The Daily Campus)

Pictured: Noel Thomas, UConn wide receiver at UConn’s Pro Scouting Day in Shenkman Training Center March 22, 2017. (Amar Batra/ The Daily Campus)

After three days consisting of 253 picks and countless dreams coming true for numerous student athletes, only one former UConn football player was selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Defensive back Obi Melifonwu was picked No. 56 overall by the Oakland Raiders, although he was projected to go a bit higher after a stellar performance at the NFL Combine where he showcased his incredible athleticism. Melifonwu led the Huskies with 118 total tackles and four interceptions last season, the lone bright spot in an absolutely dismal year for UConn football.

None of Melifonwu’s college teammates were selected in the draft, even wide receiver Noel Thomas who was projected to be a late-round pick. However, several Huskies, including Thomas, were picked up by NFL teams for a rookie minicamp try-out and signed as undrafted free agents.

The aforementioned Thomas signed a contract with the Detroit Lions, where current UConn head coach Randy Edsall used to work as Director of Football Research – Special Projects. The wide receiver from Norwalk, Conn. was a consistent threat in his time with the Huskies, compiling 183 receptions, 2235 yards and 10 touchdowns in 42 games, including 100 receptions and 1,179 yards in his senior season.

Two other UConn defensive backs signed with NFL rosters over the last week in hopes of making it big. Jhavon Williams, who tallied five interceptions and 174 tackles in his UConn career, signed with the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are a team with a depleted secondary so Williams may have a chance at making the pre-season roster. He won’t be short of experience entering camp, having started 42 of his 47 games at UConn.

The other Huskies defensive back to sign is the speedy John Green, who will try-out for a spot on the Tennessee Titans. Green had 50 total tackles in 44 games played throughout his UConn career, managing 13 passes defensed in that time.

Former UConn kicker Bobby Puyol found a try-out opportunity with the Baltimore Ravens. Puyol finished his collegiate career with a modest 76.5 field goal percentage (39-51) and a 91 percent PAT percentage (61-67). The redshirt senior made a career-long field goal of 52 yards in 2015 so he has shown that he has a good leg. However, he may struggle to find a roster spot with the Ravens, who have perhaps the best kicker in all of football in Justin Tucker.

Defensive lineman Mikal Myers was also picked up by the Ravens for a try-out. Myers is more of an interior lineman who is a run-stuffer more than a pass rusher. He recorded 51 tackles and one sack in his senior season for a career total of 112 tackles and three sacks in his time at UConn.

Offensive lineman Andreas Knappe reached an agreement with the Super Bowl runners up, Atlanta Falcons. Born in Denmark, Knappe is an older player, already 25, but is an intriguing prospect due to his massive size at 6’8” 325 lbs. He played in 36 games for the Huskies and could compete for the swing tackle position in Atlanta, given the team’s lack of offensive line depth.

The San Francisco 49ers gave offensive guard Richard Levy a chance to make their roster by signing him to an undrafted free agent deal. Levy, who stands at 6’6” 312 lbs, started 25 games at left tackle for the Huskies before shifting over to the guard position last season. Levy could provide depth in either offensive lineman position should he make the final roster.

Chris Hanna is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu. He tweets @realchrishanna.

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