Dane Cruikshank drafted by Tennessee Titans, other UA players sign as free agents in NFL Draft
This past weekend, the 2018 NFL Draft took place in Dallas, Texas, where 256 college athletes were selected to play professional football for 32 prospective organizations. Hundreds more signed undrafted contracts with NFL teams at the conclusion of the draft.
The latest (and only) Arizona Wildcat to hear his name called in the NFL Draft was defensive back Dane Cruikshank. Tennessee traded up in round five on Saturday afternoon to select Cruikshank with the 152nd overall pick.
The Titans felt strongly enough about the Arizona defensive back that they were willing to ditch their final two selections in exchange for Baltimore’s fifth-round pick.
After a strong showing at the NFL scouting combine, and an impressive week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game, Cruikshank rose in mock drafts and drew praise from a few NFL scouts.
In Tennessee, Cruikshank will be reunited with former Arizona receivers coach Tony Dews. Dews was Cruikshank’s primary recruiter coming out of Citrus College in Glendora, California. Now, he serves as the Titans running back coach.
Despite being the lone Arizona player to be drafted over the weekend, Cruikshank wasn’t the only Wildcat given an opportunity to play in the NFL.
In the wake of the draft, two former Arizona offensive linemen were offered free agent contracts. Jacob Alsadek parlayed three years as a starter at Arizona into an undrafted free agent deal with the Green Bay Packers. Alsadek will rejoin former Arizona defensive lineman Reggie Gilbert.
The 6-foot-7, 317-pounder athlete is capable of lining up at either of the tackle or guard positions. Three years of consistent tape and a strong showing at UA’s Pro Day in March helped Alsadek find a suitor for next fall.
Gerhard de Beer
Alsadek’s teammate and South Africa-native offensive lineman Gerhard de Beer also received an offer, inking a free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills. De Beer made the most of his time as a Wildcat, starring for the UA track and field team, as well as helping the rushing attack at Arizona burst onto the national scene.
The 6-foot-8 physical lineman has the chance to become only the third South African football player to make his mark in the NFL. His potential mirrors that of other monstrous tackles selected in the draft, but his lack of experience played a key role in not being drafted and could ultimately hold him back at the next level.
The final Wildcats to extend their playing careers over the weekend were former running backs Zach Green and Nick Wilson.
Shortly after the draft concluded Saturday, April 28, Wilson announced he was signing with the Chicago Bears on Twitter. Wilson looked to be a budding star in his freshman year at Arizona, racking up 1,375 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.
However, a combination of foot, shoulder and knee injuries plagued Wilson over the next three years, and he was never able to see the field consistently as a result. Wilson is a dynamic back when healthy and could serve as a backup to Chicago’s Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.
On Saturday night, Green also indicated on Twitter that he was signing as an undrafted free agent with the Cincinnati Bengals. Green will join a crowded Bengals backfield where he’ll try to fight reps away from Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, and fellow 2018 draftee Mark Walton.
Although Green was never featured as Arizona’s primary ball carrier, he still managed to draw enough interest from NFL teams as a possible goal line back. In 2017, he added 11 touchdowns to Arizona’s dynamic rushing attack. Green’s strong frame and aggressive running style helped him fit at Arizona and should benefit him with the Bengals. His ability to bounce off of tackles and get skinny through the skirmish near the end zone are attributes that can make him an intriguing ball carrier at the next level.
Lack of UA NFL Draft picks
Since 2008, just 20 Arizona football student-athletes have been selected in the NFL Draft. Under former head coach Rich Rodriguez, Arizona didn’t produce a single pick in the first three rounds.
Arizona’s new head coach Kevin Sumlin, on the other hand, has a list of numerous high-profile players that have gone on to be high draft picks, including last year’s No. 1 overall selection, Myles Garrett.
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