Six former Buffaloes sign with NFL teams after NFL Draft

Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Jake Mauff at jacob.mauff@colorado.edu

No Colorado football players were drafted in the NFL draft this year. A fair amount, however, have signed as undrafted free agents in the days since the draft’s seventh round ended.

Nelson Spruce signed with the Los Angeles Rams, Stephane Nembot with the Baltimore Ravens, Jered Bell with the San Francisco 49ers, Christian Powell with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ken Crawley and John Walker both signed with the New Orleans Saints.

The most notable name on the list is Spruce. He graduated as the all-time Pac-12 leader in receptions, as well as the school’s most productive receiver ever.

In Los Angeles, he’ll face an uphill battle to make the roster. The Rams went offense-heavy during the draft, including two receivers and two tight ends. They also have Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin. Britt is a traditional threat outside and Austin is a tinker player who can be placed around the field.

Spruce is not going to light up anybody with his athleticism. He will, however, offer very steady hands. Of the 93 catchable passes thrown his way, he only dropped four in the entire 2015 season.

Nembot also faces a tough challenge to make the final 53. The Ravens have been a very consistent organization, except for last year when they lost their quarterback for six games. That helped them get the high pick that they did.

To bounce back from the lackluster season, Baltimore went offensive tackle with their first pick. The sixth pick, for that matter.

Nembot was a versatile member of the Buffs offensive line. For a team that lost Kelechi Osemele in free agency, Nembot could provide a valuable depth piece.

Bell has a similar situation. San Francisco went secondary-heavy in the draft, picking up three cornerbacks.

However, Bell is more of a safety. The 49ers still have good safety depth with Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea manning the starting spots. They also drafted depth in high rounds in recent years with Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt.

Powell is coming into another tough roster battle. Pittsburgh has a fair amount of running back depth. That includes one of the best all-around running backs in the league with Le’Veon Bell.

The Steelers were without Bell and his backup DeAngelo Williams for their last game of the season, a playoff game against the Broncos. The rushing game that took over for the two injured backs was not nearly as impressive. Against Denver, the team had 85 yards. Forty of those yards came from wide receiver Martavis Bryant.

It’s possible that Powell will display enough to make the team as a depth piece. Either way, he’ll have to work hard to break camp with the team.

Walker and Crawley may have the best chances of making a team. Walker only played in four games last year. Crawley only missed the first game and went on to record eight pass deflections.

The Saints finished as the second-worst team against the pass last season. New Orleans also didn’t focus on the corner position in the draft, only adding a free safety in the second round to help with their ailing secondary.

The team also let Brandon Browner go. He had a sloppy season last year, but he was one of the best corners the team could import. One of these Buffaloes may make final cuts before the regular season.

Jake Mauff

Jake Mauff is the Editor-in-Chief and staff writer for the CU Independent. He enjoys biking, hiking and running in what little free time that he has, and he has interviewed a variety of interesting people including a presidential candidate. You can follow him on Twitter at @jake_mauff.

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