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Multiple former Hoosiers have shot at NFL



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Junior wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. attempts to run the ball before being tackled by Charleston Southern during the Oct. 7 game at Memorial Stadium. Cobbs was one of 11 Hoosiers that have agreed to an NFL deal this offseason. Ty Vinson Buy Photos

The 2018 NFL Draft didn’t quite go the way some former IU football players might have expected. 

During the three days of the draft  — between April 26 and 28  — only two Hoosiers, tight end Ian Thomas and linebacker Chris Covington, heard their names called from the stage at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

That left a number of former IU players who had been projected as late-round picks, such as linebacker Tegray Scales, wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. and cornerback Rashard Fant, undrafted and with their football careers momentarily up in the air.

However, despite only two former Hoosiers receiving that coveted phone call from the draft, 11 former IU players have now earned opportunities to make NFL rosters.

Ian Thomas

The tight end, who only played his final two seasons at IU after transferring from Nassau Community College after the 2016 season, was the first Hoosier to come off the board in the draft. Thomas was selected by the Carolina Panthers 101st overall in the fourth round, making him the first pick on day three of the draft. The selection also made him the highest drafted tight end in IU history.

Thomas showed a lot of promise during his senior season in Bloomington after pulling in 25 receptions for 376 yards and five touchdowns. He also received honorable mention All-Big Ten and was named to the Senior Bowl watch list in 2017.

Thomas will look to gain experience behind veteran three-time pro-bowler Greg Olsen during his rookie season and could provide a much-needed young pass-catching option for Carolina quarterback Cam Newton.

Chris Covington

Covington’s journey from originally being recruited to IU as a quarterback to being one of IU's starting linebackers by the end of his senior year came to head when he was the second and final Hoosier to be drafted on day three of the draft. 

Covington was selected by the Dallas Cowboys 193rd overall in the sixth round, making him the first IU linebacker to be drafted since Van Waiters was selected by the Cleveland Browns in 1988.

He finished the 2017 season third on the team in tackles with 85 and second in tackles for loss with 12. He was also named the Hoosiers’ Defensive Player of the Year and honorable mention All-Big Ten.

The Cowboys came into the draft with linebacker as one of their main needs. Covington was the second linebacker they selected along with Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch, who Dallas selected 19th overall in the first round.

Tegray Scales

Scales ended his career as one of IU’s most decorated defensive players of all-time, but still went undrafted in 2018. However, after the draft, he was signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Rams. 

Scales finished his career near the top of multiple career defensive categories at IU and was a two-time recipient of the Anthony Thompson Most Valuable Player Award. He was also First Team All-Big Ten after his senior year and was named to SI.com’s second team All-America team after his junior year. 

He’ll look to make Los Angeles’ roster, which also features four other rookie linebackers in Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Micah Kiser, Travin Howard and Samson Ebukam.

Simmie Cobbs Jr.

At the end of his redshirt junior season in 2017, Cobbs found himself in the top 10 in career receptions, receiving yards and 100-yard games at IU, but still went undrafted. The wide receiver then signed a free agent deal with the Washington Redskins.

Cobbs managed to bounce back from a season-ending ankle injury in 2016 to finish second in the Big Ten in receptions in 2017 with 72 on the season.

Cobbs will look to secure a spot on Washington’s young, inexperienced receiving corps led by the likes of Jamison Crowder, Brian Quick, Josh Doctson and the recently-signed Paul Richardson.

Rashard Fant

Along with Scales and Cobbs, Fant was projected as another possible late-round selection prior to the draft. However, he went undrafted and later signed a free agent deal with the Chicago Bears. 

The cornerback was one of IU’s defensive leaders in the secondary over the course his four years in Bloomington. He finished his career as IU’s all-time leader in both passes defended and pass break-ups. He was also named second team All-Big Ten in 2017.

Fant’s draft stock might have been hurt by the numerous injuries he suffered at IU, the most recent being a torn pectoral muscle during the bench press at the NFL Combine. 

He’ll try and break into a Chicago secondary that has been seen as a weakness for the team recently. The Bears have tried to address that this offseason by signing free agents Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper.

Robert McCray III

McCray went undrafted but signed a free agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The defensive lineman played mainly at defensive tackle for IU over the past four years, He finished his senior season as the team leader in sacks with six in 2017, and was also named honorable mention All-Big Ten. He also ended the season with 20 tackles, 7.5 for loss and one forced fumble.

McCray’s free agent signing will give him an opportunity to earn a spot on Kansas City’s roster during training camp. 

Richard Lagow

The quarterback went undrafted and received a rookie minicamp invite from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Lagow spent two seasons at IU after transferring from Cisco Community College in Texas, but still managed to finish in the top 10 all-time passing touchdowns, completions and passing yards. 

Lagow split time with then-freshman Peyton Ramsey at quarterback in 2017 and threw for 1,936 yards, 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

After participating in minicamp with the Chiefs, Lagow has moved on to his second rookie minicamp invite with the Indianapolis Colts.

Griffin Oakes

Oakes went undrafted and received a rookie minicamp invite from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The kicker ended his senior season on a high note, winning his second Big Ten Kicker of the Year award, being named First Team All-Big Ten, receiving the Terry P. Cole Award as the Old Oaken Bucket game MVP and being named a the Lou Groza Award semifinalist.

If he makes it to training camp, Oakes will battle veteran Chandler Catanzaro and rookie Trevor Moore for the Buccaneers’ kicking position.

Greg Gooch

Gooch went undrafted and received a rookie minicamp invite from the New Orleans Saints.

The defensive lineman started 11 games in 2017, mainly at defensive end. He earned the Chris Dal Sasso Award as the most outstanding lineman for IU after registering 26 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles during his senior season.

He’ll look to get a training camp deal at the Saints’ minicamp.

Chase Dutra

The safety went undrafted and received a rookie minicamp invite from the Detroit Lions.

Dutra had a monster senior season in 2017, leading the team in tackles with 96, and being named honorable mention All-Big Ten. 

He’ll try to earn a shot at training camp at Detroit’s minicamp.

Tony Fields

Fields went undrafted and received a rookie minicamp invite from the Jacksonville Jaguars.  

Fields was mainly a safety at IU, but also spent some time at the husky position in 2017. He is the only player in IU history to play in 50 games and finished fifth on the team in tackles during his senior season with 56. 

If he makes it past minicamp, Fields will have a chance to earn a spot in Jacksonville’s secondary during training camp.

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