A few days ago, we here at the Blog provided updates on five out of the TEN W&M players currently on NFL rosters, including the likes of R.J. Archer, Sean Lissemore, Derek Cox, Mike Leach, and Jonathan Grimes. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s an awesome read that you can find here.
In this post, we continue our status updates of the next 5 players. We still can’t believe that W&M has a double digit amount of players in the NFL, but it’s true! So, without further ado, let’s update you on another five W&M alums currently on NFL squads.
Mike Reilly, DE/OLB – Cleveland Browns
Last season, the Tribe’s Mike Reilly finished with 41 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and 8 QB hits. In addition, he was named the CAA’s Defensive Player of the Year. Reilly is known for his insane work ethic, especially in the weight room. Although he did not receive an invite to the NFL Combine, Reilly proved his mettle at William & Mary’s Pro Day. And let’s not forget that he has plenty to show on his highlight reel.
All of this led to Mike Reilly’s Rookie Mini Camp invite and eventual signing with the Cleveland Browns as an Outside Linebacker. Reilly is busy adjusting to the NFL and making the switch to OLB from Defensive End, and we believe he can get the job done. He may prove to be very well suited for Mike Pettine‘s hybrid defensive scheme, able to contribute both as an outside linebacker and as a defensive end. If his worth ethic has taught us anything about him, it’s that he will not give up on his dream of playing in the NFL. Keep it up Mike!
BW Webb, CB – Pittsburgh Steelers
After an outstanding W&M career that saw him receive First Team All-CAA honors 3 years in a row, BW Webb was drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft’s 4th round by the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately for Webb, he found himself drafted into a pretty terrible situation. A horrendous defense marred by injuries forced the Cowboys to push Webb into action early in his career. You can imagine that jump from CAA football to the NFC East can be quite an adjustment. Ultimately, Webb let up too many big plays on blown coverages and was cut by the Cowboys.
However, this may have been a blessing in disguise, as Webb was subsequently picked up by fellow W&M alum Mike Tomlin‘s Pittsburgh Steelers, with whom Webb spent all of last season learning the playbook and participating in practices. This season, the Steelers’ #1 cornerback job is locked up by Cortez Allen, who recently signed a 5-year $26 million contract extension. However, the second and third cornerback positions are up for grabs. Webb will need to prove himself this offseason to earn a spot on the team, as he faces stiff competition in veteran William Gay and second round draft pick Senquez Golson out of Ole Miss. But as Webb has been on the roster for a year learning the ins and outs of the defense, that may give him the extra edge needed to make the team.
Jerome Couplin III, S – Philadelphia Eagles
He is known as “The Osprey,” boasting an 81 inch wingspan and freakish athleticism. Couplin III was not drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft, but signed on as an Undrafted Free Agent with the Detroit Lions that season. Throughout the preseason last year, Couplin III mightily flashed his big hit potential, turning a couple heads in the process. One article stated, “The man doesn’t just hit you. He hits you like he wants you to remember it.” He would go on to play with the Lions that season, but was ultimately cut in November that year.
After Detroit, Couplin III briefly found himself on the Buffalo Bills roster before being brought back yet again by the Detroit Lions and placed on their practice squad. Less than a month later, Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles signed Jerome from the Detroit practice squad. Chip Kelly, the mastermind that he is, may just see the vast potential in Couplin III and be the type of coach that he needs to excel at the next level.
If Couplin III can develop better coverage abilities in the NFL and couple that with his already stellar tackling abilities and top notch athleticism, he will undoubtedly have a shot to start at safety this season for the Eagles. Malcolm Jenkins currently mans the first safety position, but the other spot is completely up for grabs. One media pundit has already predicted Jerome will be the starter at the beginning of the year. We hope to see a lot of Jerome this year in Philadelphia!
Tre McBride, WR – Tennessee Titans
Finishing as one of the best W&M receivers in school history, Tre McBride was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the 7th round of the NFL draft, 245th overall. It was a surprising slip for McBride, as many expected him to go as high as the 3rd or 4th round. However, this has placed a huge chip on McBride’s shoulder as he looks to prove himself this year. Since the draft, McBride has been involved with the Titans’ Rookie Mini Camp and Organized Team Activities, learning as much of the playbook as humanly possible.
In a recent interview, McBride said that his “head was spinning a little less” than during Rookie Mini Camp, but that he still has a lot to learn in the playbook. McBride says that it has been tough, but it’s on the rookies to get the job done. The NFL is a cut-throat, competitive league that won’t wait very long for a player to understand the playbook. You either learn it and excel, or you’re cut–simple as that. McBride has fully understood this from the start, and continues to study the playbook late into the night (something that any true W&M grad can relate to).
McBride says that Justin Hunter, Harry Douglas, and Kendall Wright have been instrumental in helping him in his transition to the NFL (McBride is currently Wright’s backup at the F and Z wide receiver positions), but he still has a lot to learn. Tre has more than enough tools to make the team, and although he faces stiff competition, we expect him to make the 53 man roster this year.
Jasper Coleman, DE – Houston Texans
On June 2nd of this month, Jasper Coleman signed a rookie contract with the Houston Texans. Coleman’s signing makes him the 3rd Tribe player to be signed from this season’s Senior class (along with Reilly and McBride), and the second W&M player currently on the Texans roster–the other, of course, is Jonathan Grimes.
Coleman was not invited to the 2015 NFL Combine, but like Mike Reilly, performed very well at William & Mary’s Pro Day in front of 18 NFL scouts. At his Pro Day, Coleman flashed incredible athleticism for a player his size; as a result, he received Rookie Mini Camp invites from both the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs.
In the end, Coleman received an offer from the Houston Texans–one of the eighteen teams that was in attendance for William & Mary’s Pro Day. In Houston, Coleman enters a very crowded and deep defensive line. At the top of the depth chart sits all-time great defensive end JJ Watt along with newly acquired star nose tackle Vince Wilfork. The Texans added to their defensive line depth this offseason, bringing in 5 rookie defensive ends to the fold–including Jasper. Coleman will undoubtedly face stark competition, but if he proves himself worthy, Jasper may be able to fulfill a roll on either the Texans or on another team intrigued by his potential.
You’d be hard pressed to find any other FCS school in the nation that currently has TEN former players on NFL rosters. Something must be in the water in Williamsburg. And while several William & Mary players still need to make the team, it is a tremendous feat nonetheless. LET’S GO TRIBE!!!
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