Blue Hens gone pro: Former UD players take the field on the biggest stage

BY
Senior Reporter

Delaware Pro Day - Louis Mason
Louis Mason/THE
REVIEW

Delaware Stadium won’t be the only place you’ll be able to watch Blue Hens play football this fall. In addition to the previous three NFL players from the university, seven players from the class of 2018 were either drafted, signed to rosters or received a training camp invitation. To contextualize, this figure is tied for the most in school history, according to the program. While not all of these players ended up on NFL rosters, there will be a total of five former Blue Hens playing NFL football, with another making a practice squad. The university’s strong program has resulted in tangible professional success, so let’s take a look at the Blue Hens gone pro.

The Veterans:

Nick Boyle

While Flacco left Baltimore this past offseason, Boyle decided to stay. The 26-year-old tight end signed a three-year, $18 million contract with the Ravens this past offseason after a career-high 213 receiving yards in 2018. While this statistic may not be eye-popping, Boyle played a large role in Baltimore’s rushing attack, as he was often deployed as a blocking tight end, and is currently listed as their starting tight end on the depth chart. With the rise in Baltimore’s emphasis on their run game through Jackson and free agent acquisition Mark Ingram, paired with Boyle’s sizable contract, it is reasonable to assume that Boyle will play a substantial role with the Ravens.

Joe Flacco


IMG_3944 Teddy
Gelman/THE REVIEW

For the first time in his career, Flacco will not begin his NFL season with the Baltimore Ravens. Balttimore traded Flacco to the Denver Broncos during the offseason in exchange for a 2019 fourth-round pick. Flacco will serve as a mentor to rookie quarterback Drew Lock, who the Broncos expect to be their starter in the future. However, Flacco has the starting job locked down for the time being.

In 2018, Flacco suffered a hip injury that kept him out for several weeks, allowing rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson to take the reigns of Baltimore’s offense. Under Jackson, the Ravens shifted from a balanced offense to a run-heavy system, which ended up working for them, as evidenced by their 6-1 finish to the season that gave them a playoff berth. While Jackson established himself as the future of the Ravens’ offense, Flacco was relegated to backup quarterback.

Despite this change for Flacco, he has the tools to be successful. Denver boasts a strong defense led by All-Pro edge rusher Von Miller, and Flacco will have weapons like dual-threat running back Phillip Lindsay, veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders and deep threat Courtland Sutton. During his last few years in Baltimore, he didn’t have the dynamic offensive weapons that he will have this season. Denver will have a tough path to the playoffs, given the strength of the AFC West, but Flacco could potentially revitalize his career and re-correct his reputation this season.

While Flacco left Baltimore this past offseason, Boyle decided to stay. The 26-year-old tight end signed a three-year, $18 million contract with the Ravens this past offseason after a career-high 213 receiving yards in 2018. While this statistic may not be eye-popping, Boyle played a large role in Baltimore’s rushing attack, as he was often deployed as a blocking tight end, and is currently listed as their starting tight end on the depth chart. With the rise in Baltimore’s emphasis on their run game through Jackson and free agent acquisition Mark Ingram, paired with Boyle’s sizable contract, it is reasonable to assume that Boyle will play a substantial role with the Ravens.

Bilal Nichols


YXRJCIOBEKFPQTS.20170808185500 Coutesy of University of Delaware Athletics

Nichols, a fifth-round draft pick in 2018, burst onto the scene as a rookie with the Chicago Bears. Nichols totalled 28 tackles and 3 sacks on the season with the Bears, which featured one of the best defenses in the league. Nichols is coached by Matt Nagy, another former Blue Hen, and is playing alongside elite NFL talents like Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks, so there is probably no better place for him to be for the sake of his development as a player. Nichols is listed as the Bears’ starting defensive end, so expect him to build off of his strong rookie campaign.

The Rookies:

Nasir Adderley


Delaware Pro Day - Louis Mason Louis
Mason/THE REVIEW

Nasir Adderley was drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Chargers, and will look to make his mark on the NFL and showcase his talent.
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After a standout career at Delaware featuring big hits, interceptions, kickoff returns and everything in between, The Los Angeles Chargers drafted Adderly in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Adderley joins an already-stacked secondary, with players like Casey Hayward, Desmond King II and Derwin James. Adderley suffered a hamstring injury during his pro day in March 2019, which lingered into training camp and preseason and caused him to miss the first three preseason games. However, Adderley displayed his talent in the final preseason game when he recorded an interception. Adderley will start the season relatively low on the depth chart due to his injury during training camp and preseason, but his playing time will likely increase as he gets more integrated into the team, especially because star safety James broke his foot during the preseason and will likely miss most of the season. Adderley may have to be patient, but the Chargers are aware of his talent and it won’t be long until he gets opportunities to showcase it.

Troy Reeder


FB_ReederDPOW_MainPic Courtesy of University of Delaware Athletics
Troy Reeder will be the backup inside line backer for the Rams.

After a strong career at Delaware, Reeder went undrafted in 2019. However, he signed with the Los Angeles Rams shortly after the draft. Reeder quickly established himself as a real candidate to make the 53-man roster with his first preseason game in which he totaled 7 tackles, and continued to impress for the duration of the preseason. Reeder joins the reigning NFC champions who look just as likely to contend again, and like Nichols, will be surrounded with elite talent like Aaron Donald and Aqib Talib. He will play inside linebacker for the Rams, with a lot of his playing time likely coming on special teams

Charles Scarff

Scarff had a great senior season at Delaware. The 6 feet 6 inches tight end hauled in 7 touchdowns and earned First Team All-CAA honors in 2018, which put him on the NFL radar. Although Scarff went undrafted in 2019, he received a contract with the Ravens. After a strong preseason, the team gave him a spot on their practice squad. This was mostly for personnel reasons, as the Ravens decided to roster three tight ends as opposed to four. It’s possible that Scarff could see the field this season, but at the very least he’ll get experience with the team and a chance to make a name for himself within the Ravens organization.

Bonus:

Vinny Papale

Papale received a training camp invitation from the Oakland Raiders shortly after the NFL draft, and also participated in a rookie minicamp with the Washington Redskins. He was not selected to an NFL roster for the 2019 season, but it appears likely that he will be playing professional football in the near future, as he participated in an XFL Showcase in Washington D.C. over the summer. The experimental league is set to launch in 2020 during the NFL offseason, and will feature eight teams from various cities across the country. The D.C. Defenders, which ran the camp Papale attended, published a video via Twitter highlighting Papale’s performance at the showcase. The video also included a few short interview questions with him and his father, Vince Papale, a former NFL player whose story has become widely-known through the movie “Invincible” starring Mark Wahlberg that highlighted his journey to the NFL. Expect to see Papale take the field for an XFL team in early 2020.
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