NFL rookies sometimes have it tough as their veteran teammates welcome them to the league, just ask Houston’s K.J. Dillon.
Dillon suffered a season-ending injury for the Texans in Week 5, but that hasn’t stopped the rookie from being hazed.
*Editor’s Note: The tweet has been deleted since the time this was published.
It almost happened. If not for a torn ACL suffered by Texans’ rookie safety K.J. Dillon in Week 6, we would have seen WVU’s starting safety duo from each other square off against each other this week on Monday Night Football.
Karl Joseph, taken 14th overall by the Oakland Raiders in this year’s NFL Draft had to wait a few days to hear the name of his teammate called by Houston. The Texans drafted Dillon in the fifth round.
After some early season injuries to Houston safeties, the team called upon Dillon for more playing time. And he was playing well until going down with the season-ending injury against Indianapolis.
This Monday, the Raiders and Texans meet in Mexico City on Monday Night Football. While Dillon’s recovery is going well, Joseph is sad that he will miss out on seeing his old teammate lined up across the field.
“It’s sad that it happened,” Joseph said. “I was definitely looking forward to playing him.”
Joseph can of course sympathize after having his senior season at WVU cut short with the same injury. Joseph has spoken with Dillon and offered encouragement.
“He’s in a good mindset,” Joseph said. “I know he’s getting ready to attack it and come back strong. I have definitely tried to give him advice given that I just went through it. I know how tough it can be, and how much work goes into it. But I’m looking forward to seeing him back strong as ever.”
In the fifth week of the NFL, we saw one young WVUPro help his team to a win, but another going to injured reserve. Let’s recap the fifth week of the 2016 NFL season.
Chargers 31 vs. Raiders 34
Three games into his young career, Karl Joseph is showing why the Raiders drafted him 14th overall, despite having a torn ACL at the time of the NFL Draft. On Sunday against San Diego, Joseph intercepted the first pass of his career off Philip Rivers near halftime (which set up a field goal), and recovered a fumble in the second half resulting in Michael Crabtree’s go-ahead touchdown.
Joseph flew around the field and plugged holes throughout the game for the Raiders’ defense. Oh, he also finished with six tackles and broke up a pass. Not bad for a rookie making his third start.
— Nick Hjeltness (@NickHjeltness) October 9, 2016
After the game, Joseph revealed that, even with as well as he played, he is still learning and recovering from the knee injury.
“Every week I go out there, I get a little more comfortable,” Joseph said. “I’m just trusting the process. Still battling with the knee a little bit, so I’ve just got to keep trusting the process and keep growing and keep getting better every week.”
Bruce Irvin had one tackle and a QB hit.
Eagles 23 vs. Lions 24
Want to know what it’s like being a rookie in the NFL? Let’s head to Detroit and check on the fourth round draft pick of the Eagles, Wendell Smallwood: A week after picking up 79 yards on the ground and his first NFL touchdown, Smallwood played just one down on offense. The reason: the return of starter Ryan Matthews.
Bears 23 vs. Colts 29
Like his former teammate Smallwood, Bears rookie Nick Kwiatkoski also found himself taking a backseat in the return of starter Danny Trevathan. Kwiatkoski didn’t break into the box score, but make an adjustment on a play that cut off a pass in the backfield, resulting in a sack on Andrew Luck.
For Indy, Pat McAfee punted three times for a 63.3 yard average, landing two inside the 20, and had a long of 74 yards. Boomstick indeed.
Titans 30 vs. Dolphins 17
Quinton Spain again started for Tennessee at LG, and helped pave the way for 398 yards of total offense for the Titans.
Redskins 16 vs. Ravens 10
Terence Garvin picked up the first sack of his career on Sunday against Baltimore. He finished with two tackles.
Texans 13 vs. Vikings 31
In K.J. Dillon’s first three games as a pro, he did not register any stats. In his fourth game, he wasted no time, recording a tackle on the opening kickoff against Minnesota. He went on to register four tackles.
Bengals 14 vs. Cowboys 28
Adam Pacman Jones finished with five tackles and broke up a pass for Cincinnati.
Bills 30 vs. Rams 19
Through the first four games of the season, the Rams targeted Tavon Austin 35 times, catching 16 (about 45%). In this game, Austin was targeted 10 times and caught 7 for 59 yards. He also carried the ball three times for 26 yards.
Bucs 17 vs. Panthers 14
Going into the weekend, there was some question as to whether Charles Sims would play for Tampa Bay in their Monday night clash against Carolina due to a knee injury. On Monday afternoon, Sims was ruled as OUT and then placed on Injured Reserve. Sims suffered the injury the previous week against Denver. He could return in eight weeks.
He makes four
#WVUPros currently on injured reserve. He joins Kevin White, J.T. Thomas, and Will Johnson.
On the opening drive, Tampa drove the ball down inside the Panthers’ 20-yard line. On third down, Daryl Worley broke up a pass intended for Mike Evans, resulting in a field goal for the Bucs. Then, Keith Tandy stuffed Artis-Payne on third down of the Panthers opening drive to force a punt.
Later in the game, Worley bit on a double-move from Mike Evans and gave up the game-tying TD. The rookie out of WVU finished with five tackles. Tandy had two for the Bucs.
In this week’s check-in on WVUPros in the NFL, we have updates on Kevin White, Geno Smith, Daryl Worley, K.J. Dillon and more.
K.J. Dillon, Texans – Normally a 5th round pick on the defensive side of the ball isn’t expected to contribute much in their first season beyond playing on special teams. Dillon might be an exception. Will Reeve of TodaysPigskin.com believes that Dillon will be a “sneaky good late pick.”
Dillon should help an area of need for the Houston Texans right away. And that’s something you rarely get in a fifth-round pick.
At 6′ tall, 210 pounds he’s perfectly built for the nickel safety position, and given that 65 percent of snaps are being ran out of sub-packages in the NFL today, there’s little doubt Dillon will see the field week one barring something unforeseen or a medical scare.
Daryl Worley, Panthers – In the second week of Panthers’ OTA’s, the rookie Worley is still getting reps at outside corner with the first-team as Carolina looks to replace Josh Norman.
Keith Tandy, Bucs – After OTA’s are finished, players normally have about six weeks before they have to report for training camp. Some players go on a long vacation, others spend time with their families, while others like Quinton Spain, Bruce Irvin and Keith Tandy hold youth football camps for kids.
This summer, Tandy will return to his home state of Kentucky for his annual camp. Read details on his camp here.
Kevin White, Bears – Alshon Jeffery is skipping the team’s voluntary OTA’s, leaving White as the lead receiver. After missing his rookie season with a shin injury, the Bears’ first-round pick from a year ago is getting valuable reps and developing a great rapport with QB Jay Cutler. Chicago named Jeffery as a Franchise Player, but he has yet to sign his tender. He is looking for a long-term deal to remain in the Windy City, but seems to want Dez Bryant-type numbers on his contract. Thus far, Chicago has toed a hard line with Jefferey. One reason could be that they see White as their eventual lead receiver. If Jefferey’s contract situation doesn’t work out, White could be Cutler’s primary target sooner rather than later.
Tavon Austin, Rams – Last year, Austin caught 52 passes. So far this offseason, beyond the move to Los Angeles, the Rams are in the process of re-vamping their offense (I believe I’ve written that statement on the Rams three years in a row at around this time of the year). The focus for the Rams will be on getting RB Todd Gurley the ball and the development of rookie QB Jared Goff. They traded up to take Goff because they love his precision passing.
Last year, beyond pounding the ball inside with Gurley or hitting Austin on the outside with a quick swing pass, the team failed to gain chunks of yards downfield. Head coach Jeff Fisher has an idea of what the Rams want to do this fall, and the former WVU star sounds like he’s going to be the emphasis in the passing game.
“And so when it’s all said and done,” Fisher said, “I think we’ll be able to look back and I think see Tavon maybe double in catches over what he had last year. And that’s the most important thing, is just get the chunks downfield.”
So, if Austin doubles the number of catches he had last year, that would give him over 100 this year. Seeing as how many times they plan on giving the ball to Gurley, for Fisher to achieve that goal, Goff will likely have to target Austin on almost every passing play.
If that happens, and it works, that could be a lot of fun to watch.
Geno Smith, Jets – With contract talks with Ryan Fitzpatrick at a standstill, Geno Smith is once again the starter in New York (for now). A big reason for Smith’s demotion last season sprung from his maturity off the field. After two weeks of OTA’s, Smith’s teammates see that he is maturing.
“He’s an ultimate pro right now,” Brandon Marshall said. “I don’t know if that’s always been the answer [about him]. But I’m just so proud of the kid, because the areas where he’s been challenged, he’s grown and gotten better.”
“I definitely agree,” Jets receiver Calvin Pryor told NJ.com. “He’s always on time. He’s always doing the right things. At first [in previous years], I saw that Geno really didn’t talk to too many people. But now he speaks and he goes about things the right way. That’s what you have to do when you want guys to believe in you. You have to make sure you talk with everyone. You have to have everybody’s trust, everybody believing in you. Because we’re only going to go as far as you’re going to take us, along with this defense. Every great team, you have to see great quarterback play.”
The question with Smith is not his physical tools as a quarterback, it’s his ability to be a leader on and off the field while making the correct in-game decisions. When it comes down to it, if Fitzpatrick doesn’t re-sign, does Smith’s teammates think they can win with the WVU record-breaker at the helm?
“I do,” Pryor said. “He has to believe that as well. I think he’s very confident. Before the [Enemkpali] incident happened last year, I think he was having a great camp. I think he was buying guys in. In this locker room, guys were believing in him. I’m pretty sure everything happens for a reason. He learned from that moment. And I think he’s better. Guys are confident that he can get the job done. He just has to be confident in himself, and I think he is. So far, I’m happy with the results.”
With the five WVU football players drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft joining their new teams, here are their assigned jersey numbers.
Joseph was drafted in the first round to the Oakland Raiders where he will be joining Mountaineer, Bruce Irvin. Joseph will wear the number 42 jersey, made famous by Ronnie Lott.
In the third round of the NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers traded up to draft Daryl Worley. This pick came soon after the Panthers and cornerback Josh Norman parted ways. Worley will wear the number 26 for Carolina.
In the fourth round of the NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears selected linebacker Nick Kwaitakowski. Kwaitakowski will be joining last years first round pick for the Mountaineers, Kevin White, in Chicago. Kwaitakowski will wear the number 44 jersey.
In the fifth round of the draft, the Eagles selected running back Wendell Smallwood. Smallwood entered the draft his junior year, foregoing his senior season. He will be joining Mountaineer linebacker, Najee Goode in Philadelphia. Smallwood will wear the number 28 jersey.
Also in the fifth round of the draft, Mountaineer nation saw another player head to play on Sunday’s. The Houston Texans with their pick selected K.J Dillon. Dillon will be wearing the number 36 jersey.
Every year, WVU sends football players to the NFL Combine. In year’s past, some have used that platform to launch themselves up draft boards. Which Mountaineers made their mark at this year’s event? Let’s recap.
This year, the NFL invited six players from the most recent Mountaineer squad to attend the annual event held in Indianapolis. Four of those players were among the leaders of Tony Gibson’s defense: Karl Joseph, K.J. Dillon, Darryl Worley and Nick Kwiatkoski as well as RB Wendell Smallwood and P Nick O’Toole.
Joseph is the top prospect among this class, and was recently rated as the top overall safety by draft analyst Mike Mayock. He did not take part of the on-field drills as he continues his recovery from a torn ACL. He did take part in the measurements and team interviews. He measured out at 5’10” 210lbs. with 32 1/8″ arms and 9 3/4″ hands.
“It kind of hurt not being able to compete out here,” a plain-clothed Joseph told Deion Sanders in an interview during drills. Sanders then asked Joseph who he thought was the best safety at the combine. The WVU star turned and looked Sanders in the eyes, and said with conviction, “I’m the best safety out here . . . I want to be one of the greatest.”
WVU’s other safety present at the combine was K.J. Dillon. He improved his draft stock, being a top performer and finished 4th in the 40-yard dash at his position, running a 4.53. He put up 11 reps in the bench press and posted a 121.0″ broad jump.
CB Daryl Worley measured in at 6’1″ 204lbs. He ran the 40 in 4.64 seconds, 14 bench press reps, 35.5″ vertical, 123″ broad jump, 6.98 seconds in the 3-cone drill, 4.15 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle, and did the 60-yard shuttle in 10.87 seconds.
ILB Nick Kwiatkoski came in at 6’2″ 243lbs. He was a top performer in the 20-yard shuttle with a time of 4.22. He ran the 40 in 4.73 seconds, had 19 reps in the bench press, had a 32″ vertical leap, did a broad jump of 120″, and did the 3-cone drill in 7.16 seconds.
RB Wendell Smallwood had a great performance, showing off his speed and shiftiness. He had one of the fastest 40 times abound backs with a 4.47, posted the best 3-cone drill time at 6.83 seconds as well as the best time in the 60-yard shuttle with 11.14 seconds. You can read our full recap of Smallwood’s combine along with videos here. We conducted a post-combine interview with him that we will post on Wednesday.
Nick O’Toole measured in at 6’3″ 219lbs.
“I think one of my positives is my leg strength,” O’Toole said during the combine. “I think I can bang it. This past year at West Virginia, all we did was directional punting. Either way, either to the sideline or the middle of the field, I think I have a good feel for it.”
This time of the year is not only an important time for college sports, but also a very important time for college athletes who are taking their talents to the NFL, where multiple Mountaineers will show off their talents off at the NFL Combine starting on the 26th of February.
In a recent mock draft by CBS Sports they have the Mountaineers listed with five players being drafted as of now. These will likely change after the NFL Combine and WVU’s Pro Day, and we will update these projections as the draft draws closer.
- Karl Joseph is projected to go 112th overall and is rated 4th best in his position with some analysts having him as the best in his position.
- K.J. Dillon is projected to go 169th overall and is the 6th position.
- Wendell Smallwood is projected to go 198th overall and is the 17th best in his position.
- Daryl Worley is projected 206th overall and is the 26th best at his position.
- Nick Kwiatkoski is projected 250th overall and is the 10th best at his positon.
- Nick O’Toole is projected to go undrafted and is the 5th best at his positon.
The field for the Mountaineers is very large this year and there is a large chance we are going to be seeing our seniors play on Sundays.