Senior QB Sefo Liufau exploits a gap during the third quarter of play at Folsom Field. Nov. 26, 2016 (Nigel Amstock/CU Independent File)

Buffs Spotlight: Sefo Liufau at the NFL Combine

Four recently-graduated Buffaloes have secured invites to the annual NFL Combine, a week-long event for former college players to showcase their abilities to NFL coaches. As they attempt to land on a pro team for the upcoming camp and workout season, the CU Independent’s Jack Stern has been paying attention to the potential suitors of the players.

Potential destinations for the former Buffs quarterback Sefo Liufau include the New England Patriots, the Seattle Seahawks and the Cincinnati Bengals.

New England Patriots: Say what you want about head coach Bill Belichick, but he always manages to bring out the best in players the rest of the NFL has either given up on, or paid no attention to. Even with Tom Brady, a franchise quarterback, under center, and solid options at backup, I could still see Belichick looking to add more talent at the position.

Liufau is a hard nose player with a big frame who isn’t afraid to turn on the afterburners. During his college career he racked up 933 rushing yards. There were also several instances during which Liufau showed precision-passing skills, such as a 70 yard touchdown-pass to then junior wide receiver Shay Fields against Michigan back in mid-September. 

Bottom Line: This outcome is possible, but not likely. Belichick always finds a way to implement certain players into his system and have them play the role they are best fit for. With Liufau’s frame, he could potentially remove him from the quarterback position, something Belichick has not hesitated to do in the past, as he did with Julian Edelman. The Patriots wide receiver and former Kent State quarterback was taken in the sixth round of the draft. Since then Edelman has been used all over the field as a Pro Bowl wide receiver, and even made an appearance at slot cornerback in 2011.

Even if Belichick picks Liufau up only to simulate running quarterbacks with the scout team, he will eventually find a way to make use what the player offers. No matter how you look at it, Belichick is a guy who knows what to do with talent. However, it is still up in the air if the Patriots will even look to add another quarterback next year, especially coming off of a year during which they drafted Jacoby Brissett out of NC State in the third round.

This, considered with the fact that the Patriots’ primary backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo may return after all, makes it a wildcard for Liufau to land here. Essentially, predicting what will come next with the Patriots is the equivalent of trying to figure out what a professor will put on a test, in a class you haven’t attended all semester.

Seattle Seahawks: It is no secret the Seahawks are attracted to mobile signal-callers. Not only is their current starter, Russell Wilson, a run-threat, but they have had several mobile-quarterbacks on their roster since Pete Carroll took the the helm. Throughout his career, Carroll has used lackluster quarterbacks as backup, including Tarvaris Jackson and Terrelle Pyror in the past, and Trevone Boykin currently. 

Bottom Line: Of the three destinations, I see this one as the most likely. The Seahawks are looking for depth at the position as Wilson ages, and with the lingering possibility of Boykin playing running back down the road, it makes this move even more likely.

Even if their plan isn’t to groom Boykin as Wilson’s replacement, the Seahawks still need depth at the quarterback position. Why not gain this depth with a guy like Liufau, who fits the Seahawks’ system perfectly? Especially given that Liufau will be available come the final round of the draft, and at such a low cost. Look for this to happen in a low-risk, but high-reward, scenario.

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are a team in transition that could look at add Liufau in another low-risk, high-reward scenario. Although they have their franchise quarterback in Andy Dalton, and a solid backup in A.J. McCarron, depth is key in the NFL. Given the fact that McCarron is only under contract through next season, the Bengals are likely to be looking to add depth. 

When his contract expires, McCarron will likely demand a higher salary and look for a team where he would have an opportunity to start. Signing a veteran backup down the road may prove costly for the Bengals, so why not take a shot and draft someone – like Liufau – who you can mold into a solid backup?

Bottom Line: This outcome is possible. Liufau would make sense here, as he could be used as a change-of-pace guy in game situations. During drives where Dalton spreads the ball around, it could prove beneficial to switch things up and experiment with Sefo in the wildcat. This could keep defenses honest, and would open up offensive coordinator Ken Zampese’s bag of tricks.

Additionally, Liufau may turn out to be a solid precision-passer at the pro level. Having big targets like A.J. Green and Brandon Lafell would certainly move his development along. In a best-case scenario, Liufau would be able to take over for Dalton in event of an injury, and while doing so develop himself as the future franchise quarterback.

While I could conceivably see this happening, it’s more likely than not that Luifau goes overlooked or unnoticed as a late-round signal caller.  The move certainly would make sense, but this time around it’s more likely that the Bengals are not focusing on taking on a player for the quarterback position, given their urgent needs at a number of other positions.

Contact CU Independent Sports Writer Jack Stern at jack.stern@colorado.edu.

About Jack Stern

Jack Stern is a staff sports writer for the CU Independent. He is a know-it-all sports fan who soaks up anything sports related. His favorite sports are football, baseball, and basketball, but is always excited to learn about, and cover other sports. For story ideas, he can be contacted at jack.stern@colorado.edu or by phone at 718-938-5846.

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