We all know Deone Bucannon of Washington State will be newly minted onto a roster by sometime mid-second round of this year’s NFL Draft, at the very latest. Who else on the Cougars could be hearing a call to fill a free agent roster spot in the days following the NFL Draft?
DL Ioane Gauta
Sept. 22, 2012; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars nose tackle Ioane Gauta (95) gets ready for the snap against the Colorado Buffaloes during the first half at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
About a month ago we heard from Gauta’s agent, saying that he has some interested suitors in free agency. The rub is that he is a very specific, 3-4 scheme fit defensive player which limits his stock, but his strength to combat that is that he is extremely versatile along the d-line and could be plugged in at either position to fill a hole. The main question about Gauta is whether he will be at an ideal playing weight of around 300 lbs come camp time as he played 2013 around 285 lbs.
OL John Fullington
Nov 16, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Washington State Cougars offensive lineman John Fullington (77) stands on the field in between plays during the first quarter against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. The Cougars beat the Wildcats 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
Fullington is a savvy, decently sized offensive guard that could draw a little interest to tryout in a few camps. He has improved his feet and has a ton of playing experience at WSU to draw from. Ultimately I think he ends up in the CFL or Europe, which isn’t a bad gig. But he really needs more time to mature and improve technique if he’s going to stick with an NFL team.
OL Rico Forbes
Forbes is similar to Fullington in many respects but really struggled in 2013 against quickness, a death-sentence in the NFL. He has better raw athleticism and pure power (leg drive) than does Fullington, making him an ideal fit to actually surprise and make it to cut days if he could find a team to call him into camp. Again, ultimately the CFL, Europe or Arena League could come calling for Rico, but he’s also in my opinion the most likely candidate out of this group to find himself out of football as of a few months from now. Injuries have killed his career to this point and could be a major concern.
CB Damante Horton
Nov 16, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Washington State Cougars cornerback Damante Horton (6) looks to the sideline during the third quarter against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. The Cougars beat the Wildcats 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
Horton’s season numbers are worthy of a second-look and his ball skills are above average, which should easily land him in a pro league somewhere. However his achilles heel has always been his lack of speed and his only real shot at even a tryout on an NFL roster this season flew out the window with a disappointing 40-time at the Pro Day tryout last week. The NFL these days is all about size and burst, both of which he lacks enough of at this point in his career.
K Andrew Furney
Nov 16, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Washington State Cougars kicker Andrew Furney (49) prepares to attempt a field goal during the first quarter against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. The Cougars beat the Wildcats 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
In my opinion, Furney is the only other guy outside of Bucannon and Gauta who has a real shot at an NFL roster at the beginning of the 2014 season. He’s been to at least one private workout with the Patriots and drilled 14 of 15 from 35-40 yards out, then put six balls five or more yards deep into the end zone. He didn’t do a lot of work at the Pro Day last Thursday as far as drills or anything, but he did smash a 58 yarder through the uprights. He says he’s changed his approach on the ball to be more upright and has found even more leg-power as a result (remember he kicked a 60 yarder against EWU two seasons ago). His only drawback may be that most boards have him ranked in the 10-12 range as far as available kickers out of last season, but he should get a call into a camp at some point and he has the leg to shock the world and make the tryout stick.
*Teams in attendance at WSU’s Pro Day last Thursday included Seattle, Detroit, Green Bay, Kansas City, Philly, Pittsburgh and San Diego.