Sunday, August 14, 2016

DG160 - Part 1

If you watched the first two nights of the 2016 NFL Draft and ended up disappointed because there were so few players with dreads selected, don't blame me. In my draft preview I warned you not to waste your time on the first two nights, as I forecast there would be only 7 players with dreads picked in the first 3 rounds. As it turned out, 7 - as small a number as it was - was still too optimistic. By the end of the 3rd round on Mar. 29 only 5 players with dreads had heard their names called - three in round 1, two in round 2, and none in round 3. It was a far cry from the draft one year earlier, when a record high 20 were picked in the first 3 rounds, including 9 alone in round 1.

Things picked up on Day 3 of the draft - as expected - with the end result being that a total of 26 players with dreads were drafted. Actually at first I thought that 24 were selected. But after being informed that Michigan State DE Shilique Calhoun (a 3rd round pick) no longer had dreads (he cut them off sometime between MSU's pro day on Mar. 16 and the start of the Raiders' rookie minicamp on May 5), I discovered a couple of wide receivers that I didn't know had just gotten their dreads started had been drafted - Demarcus Robinson, from Florida, in round 4 and Demarcus Ayers, from Houston, in round 7; and I discovered that another player with beginner dreads had been drafted - OT Brandon Shell, from South Carolina.

Robinson, of course, was not the first former Gator with short dreads to be picked in this draft. The very first player with dreads selected - with the 11th pick in the 1st round - was former Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves, who started growing his dreads around this time a year ago. A Tampa product, Hargreaves (top photo in collage at upper right) no doubt will be playing in front of a lot of family and friends at all of his home games after being picked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Another SEC player who debuted his dreads during the 2015 season was one of the other two players with dreads picked in the 1st round, as Mississippi DT Robert Nkemdiche (bottom photo in collage) went 30th overall to the Arizona Cardinals. And about halfway between Hargreaves and Nkemdiche, the Houston Texans picked Notre Dame WR Will Fuller at #21.

Fuller was the first of just three players with dreads from Notre Dame picked - not quite the five I was hoping for in my preview. LB Jaylon Smith, who would have been the first player with dreads picked - likely in the top 5 of the 1st round - had he not suffered a serious knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl, fell out of the 1st round; but he was picked early on Day 2, as the Dallas Cowboys took him with the 3rd pick of the 2nd round - which, as you know if you were watching, came as a great relief to him. Rumors had him falling all the way to the 4th round. The other former Notre Dame player with dreads drafted just barely missed being picked on Day 2. DT Sheldon Day went to the Jaguars with the 5th pick on Day 3.

Three other players from Notre Dame are part of the 46 undrafted players with dreads who signed with teams after the draft was finished. Adding those 46 to the 26 drafted means there are 72 players in the 2016 class of rookies with dreads trying to earn jobs in NFL training camps this summer (which have already gotten underway). In part 1 of dread gallery #160 we'll look at the 38 with teams in the NFC East, NFC South, and NFC West, with the rookies in other 5 divisions to follow in Part 2.
Let's begin right at the top .....


1. Vernon Hargreaves smiles as he meets with the media after performing at Florida's pro day on Mar. 22, five weeks before the draft. Somebody must have mentioned that the majority of mock drafts had the Buccaneers, his hometown team (he played at Tampa Wharton HS before signing with the Gators), taking him with their pick in the 1st round.
Hargreaves was a starter in all three of his seasons in a Florida uniform and had 10 career INT, including a career high 4 in 2015.

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2. After the Bucs made it official and selected him with the 11th pick of the 1st round, Hargreaves is seen here during the first two days (May 6 and 7) of their rookie minicamp. It was the first time since 2010 that no players with dreads were taken with the first 10 picks of a draft. It also was the first time since 2010 that a DB was the first player with dreads taken and the first time since 2005 that a CB was the first player with dreads picked (Earl Thomas in 2010 and Adam Jones in 2005).
Vernon didn't have dreads until his junior season at Florida, so it's going to be a couple more years before we'll be able to see them when his helmet is on.

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3. Vernon Hargreaves, listed on the Bucs' website as 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds, slaps five with Alterraun Verner during an OTA practice on May 24. The two hope to be the Bucs' two starting CBs this season; and there's a good chance they will be. 6 different players started at CB for the Bucs in 2015, and none of them started more than 9 games (including 6 by Verner), so both starting CB jobs are up for grabs.

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4. You won't be able to see Vernon Hargreaves' dreads with his helmet on this season, and the same will be true of Russell Hansbrough - if he makes the team. I couldn't find any practice photos of Hansbrough, the former Missouri RB, with his helmet off, so I just posted a photo of his headshot. Hansbrough and Hargreaves are two of the 18 players from SEC teams in this year's class of rookies with dreads.

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5. In addition to Hansbrough there are two other undrafted rookies with dreads in the Buccaneers' training camp - dreads that you will be able to see. Here's 6-6, 330-pound OT Taylor Fallin, shown at Memphis pro day on left and listening in as Bucs' special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor gives instructions to a fellow rookie (on right) in what looks like a field goal/extra point drill during rookie minicamp. After redshirting in 2011, Fallin was a starter during the last three of his seasons with Memphis, including his 2015 senior season in which he was named 1st team all-AAC.

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6. After spending two seasons (over three years) in junior college, CB Javien Elliott still hadn't earned a scholarship to a Division 1 school; so he had to walk on at Florida State. After not playing as a junior, he moved into the Seminoles' starting lineup midway through his senior season. And now, after an impressive showing here at FSU's pro day on Mar. 29 .....

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7. ..... Elliott tried out with the Steelers (left photo) during their rookie minicamp. They didn't offer him a contract, but three weeks later, the Buccaneers did. Here's an article on Javien from the Tampa Bay Times at the end of May. Hopefully a month from now there'll be another article on him - the one that says he made the team.
http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/bucs/from-walk-on-to-nfl-big-leap-for-fsus-javien-elliott/2279632

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8. The three rookies with dreads with the New Orleans Saints all went undrafted, and all played in the SEC last season, including CB De'Vante Harris, who was a starter during most of his 45 career games for Texas A&M. Shown at the NFL Combine on Feb. 29 in left photo and at mandatory minicamp on June 15 on the right, Harris didn't have dreads until his senior season at A&M. His father, Rod Harris, was a rookie with the Saints in 1989 and went on to play two more NFL seasons. Let's see if De'Vante can beat that.

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9. There were at least 5 players with dreads in action at Ole Miss pro day on Mar. 28; S Trae Elston was the only one of those who performed with no shirt on. An Under Armour All-American coming out of high school, Elston was supposed to be good - and he was. He was in the starting lineup for 44 of his 50 career games with the Rebels and had 4 of his 5 career INTs during his senior season.

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10. After earning 1st team all-SEC and 2nd team all-America honors during his 2015 senior year, it was kind of shocking that nobody drafted Elston. Maybe it's because (according to the roster on the Saints website) he tips the scales at only 176 pounds. But no matter his weight, he has his work cut out for him if he's planning on being in uniform on opening day.

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11. Thanks to an injury he suffered that I have been unable to find anything about, Avery Young has not practiced at all since signing with the Saints as a free agent after the draft; so I can only include photos of him from the Combine (on left) and Auburn's pro day (right). A 6-6, 305-pound O-lineman, Young hopes to have a career as long as his brother - Bears LB Willie Young, who is about to play his 7th season in the league; but his injury - whatever it is - is putting those hopes in jeopardy.

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12. With Josh Norman now with the Redskins and Charles Tillman now retired, your defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers are looking for not one but two starting CBs. Not surprisingly they picked three corners in the draft, including Zack Sanchez, shown here getting some advice from Panthers secondary coach Steve Wilks during rookie minicamp, in round 5. Sanchez, who started all 37 games during his three seasons at Oklahoma - finishing with 15 career INT, had dreads during his freshman and sophomore seasons with the Sooners before cutting them off last season. Now apparently he's growing them back again. Zack is the only Panther rookie with dreads. 

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13. Some of the best dreads on display during Day 3 of the Combine were on the head of former Minnesota LB De'Vondre Campbell. After playing his freshman season in junior college, Campbell had 16 TFL, including 6.5 sacks, during his three seasons with the Gophers .....

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14. ..... And those dreads were on display at the Atlanta Falcons rookie minicamp on May 6, after the Falcons drafted Campbell in the 4th round. He was the first of three players selected in this year's draft who played for teams in the Big 10.

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15. Since he stands 6-foot-4, this drill is a little more challenging for De'Vondre Campbell than most other LBs. With Coach Quinn trying to increase the speed on the Falcons' defense, adding the 232-pound Campbell seems to be a step in the right direction.

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16. "What, coach, did I do it wrong?" .....
De'Vondre Campbell has that wide-eyed look as Falcons defensive coordinator Richard Smith approaches him during his first practice on May 6.
Says Coach Claeys, the head coach during his senior season at Minnesota, "His best football is still ahead of him and with the right fit he could have tremendous success at the next level." I like the sound of that. At the Combine De'Vondre ran his 40 in 4.58 seconds, the 3rd fastest of all LBs. When you see him flying around the field this season, let's just hope he has a clue.
If Campbell thought he would have the longest dreads at the Falcons' rookie minicamp, it probably came as a big surprise to him when he found out they weren't even close to being the longest ..... 

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17. Considering the large number of players with dreads on the Falcons' roster in recent years, their assistant equipment manager, Kenny Osuwah, no doubt is an expert at making sure they get helmets that are the right size. Here he gets former Arkansas State WR J.D. McKissic fitted one day before the start of rookie minicamp. The chair that McKissic is sitting in doesn't allow you to see how long his dreads are .....

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18. ..... But this photo certainly does, as McKissic catches a pass at an OTA practice on May 31. The odds are not in favor of us being able to see these dreads once the season begins. The biggest thing that McKissic has going for him is that he is a better kick returner than a receiver. His 27.3 kickoff return average in his 4 seasons for ASU is the best in SBC history; and with Devin Hester recently being released, the Falcons' kick returning job is up for grabs. So hopefully J.D. can make the team by excelling on special teams.

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19. In addition to McKissic the Falcons have one other undrafted rookie with dreads. 6-foot-3, 300-pound former Kentucky DT Cory Johnson shows his burst off the snap during a rep on May 31. Johnson had 12 TFL, including 4.5 sacks, in his two seasons with the Wildcats after transferring from junior college.

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20. All three of the Falcons' rookies with dreads are in this shot of what appears to be Cory Johnson autographing the cap of J.D.McKissic before their Falcons University graduation ceremony on June 22. De'Vondre Campbell is in the background between them. Including these three rookies, Falcons currently have 17 players with dreads on their 90-man roster.

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21. This year the NFL eliminated its rookie symposium for all draft choices, instead requiring each team to have its own rookie symposium so that undrafted players could participate as well. The Falcons dubbed their 3-day (June 20-22) program "Falcons U" and even gave everyone a "diploma" at the end. Here's Cory Johnson with his on "graduation day."

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Moving on to the NFC East .....















22. If the Philadelphia Eagles are to add any rookies to the small number of players with dreads on their roster, at least one of three undrafted players will have to step up and be noticed during training camp. Former Rutgers WR Quron Pratt had no success making the Eagles' roster the past couple of seasons; but maybe another former Rutgers player with dreads will do better - LB Quentin Gause, who totaled 27.5 TFL during his final three seasons with the Scarlet Knights, the last two of which he was a starter.

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23. If I had spent any time following the FCS last season, maybe I would have known about LB Myke Tavarres, shown here signing his contract on May 9, before he signed his contract. But as it was, the first I found about him was while I was scrolling through the roster on the Eagles' website just before training camp started.

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24. After starring in junior college, Myke Tavarres transferred to Arkansas in 2013 but hardly played at all (if at all). He then transferred to Incarnate Word and redshirted in 2014 and then made 1st team all-SLC as a senior in 2015, racking up 22.5 TFL, including 8.5 sacks. The 6-1, 230-pounder also moonlighted as a kickoff returner. The fact that he's talented enough to once be on the roster of an SEC team means to me that he's got a decent shot to make the team.

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25. With career totals of just 61 catches for 793 yards and 4 TD, WR Marcus Johnson needed an impressive showing at Texas Longhorns pro day on Mar. 23 - and he had one. The 6-1, 204-pounder ran his 40 in 4.38 seconds, went 37 inches on the vertical jump, and did 22 reps (which is outstanding for a WR) on the bench press .....

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26. ..... Those numbers were good enough to earn Johnson a contract with the Eagles. Here he makes the catch during rookie minicamp on May 13. Now let's see if he can turn all of that athletic ability into some production on the field.
I can't remember the last time the Eagles had a WR with dreads. Hopefully Marcus will be the one that ends the drought.

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27. In 2015 a rookie RB with dreads from an SEC school (Florida) made a major contribution to the Washington Redskins' offense, as Matt Jones gained close to 800 total yards and scored 4 TD. Hoping for the same to happen in 2016, the Redskins drafted former Georgia RB Keith Marshall, here carrying the ball during an OTA practice on May 25, in the 7th round.

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28. Keith Marshall was the last of four RBs with dreads drafted and the last of the 10 SEC players with dreads drafted; but he was not the only RB with dreads during the Redskins' rookie minicamp. Here on May 14 he stretches alongside former Bowling Green star Travis Greene, who unfortunately was not offered a contract after coming to camp as a tryout player.
But even without Greene around .....

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29. ..... Marshall still isn't the team's only rookie RB with dreads. Who's that with the sick dreads as the rookie RBs participate in a drill on May 24? .....

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30. ..... Wearing jersey #22, it's former Tulane RB Robert Kelley, who has a decent shot to make the team because, at 228 pounds, he's big enough to play FB and because he's good at catching the ball. During his career at Tulane he had 1,270 yards rushing and 727 receiving, so hopefully this won't be the last we see of these dreads.

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31. It's been a long time since the Eagles have had a WR with dreads and a long time since the New York Giants have had a RB with dreads. Hoping to be the first RB with dreads to carry the ball for Big Blue since Gartrell Johnson in 2009 (13 carries for 43 yards) is former UCLA star Paul Perkins. After rushing for more than 2,900 yards (combined) during his sophomore and junior seasons, the 5-10, 208-pound Perkins was drafted by the Giants in the 5th round.

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32. The Giants have one other rookie with dreads in camp. DE/LB Ishaq Williams' impressive pro day was not impressive enough to get him drafted (as I had hoped in my draft preview), but he was impressive enough at rookie minicamp for the Giants to sign him to a contract.
Speaking of impressive, that's a good word to describe his dreads, although you couldn't really tell here on May 6 because he had them reduced. But .....

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33. ..... You certainly could tell when he had them flowing full blast during mandatory minicamp on June 15, as he goes down during a tackling drill. The title of an article from the New York Daily News (link below) implies that Williams' comeback is complete. But it won't really be complete unless he makes the team. Realistically it's going to be nearly impossible for him to make the team this season after not playing for 2 years. I'll be satisfied if he just makes the practice squad.
http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/vacchiano-ishaq-williams-signs-giants-complete-comeback-article-1.2628938

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34. Three players with dreads were drafted by NFC East teams, and the first of those was former Notre Dame star LB Jaylon Smith - taken early in the 2nd round by the Dallas Cowboys. During his first day of practice on May 6 Smith shows Cowboys owner Jerry Jones the brace he has to wear that helps him walk easier (on left) and exercises alone (on right), which was pretty much all he could do while recovering from the serious knee injury he suffered in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.

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35. Jaylon Smith gets some advice from Cowboys LB coach Mike Eberflus during rookie minicamp on May 7. Indeed mental reps are all that Smith will be able to do this season. He's not going to be able to play, as the nerve damage in his knee is taking its own sweet time healing (which was not unexpected).
Taking Smith in the 2nd round was one of those high risk, high reward picks. If Smith's knee never gets fully healthy again, it will be a wasted pick. But if it does and Smith reaches his potential, the Cowboys will get one of the best LBs ever, and getting him in the 2nd round will be a steal.
Although he wasn't picked in the 1st round, Jaylon might have been the happiest person in the draft to be selected where he was. In his reaction (video on link below) you can see a lot of relief. By drafting him with one of the first picks of Day 2 of the draft, the Cowboys saved Smith from hours of anguish waiting and wondering who would take him. And they saved him a lot of money too, as dropping to the 3rd or 4th round (or worse) would have relegated him to a contract with a lot less pay.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umGYx7YhKIM

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36. Smith will be joined in camp by three other rookies with dreads, including his former teammate at Notre Dame, WR Chris Brown. It seemed like throughout his career at Notre Dame you could never see his dreads coming outside of his helmet. I don't know if he had them reduced or what, but you should have been able to see them at least a little. Since joining the Cowboys the dreads have become much more visible. As mentioned in my draft preview, Brown did not reach his potential in his 4 seasons with the Fighting Irish. The 6-2, 193-pounder has the ability to play in the NFL. Let's hope that he shows it on the field.

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37. Chris Brown and Jaylon Smith (both on right) listen in as Coach Garrett addresses the rookies during practice on May 6. But will they ever wear a Cowboys uniform during a regular season game? My crystal ball says probable for Smith and doubtful for Brown.

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38. Chris Brown blocks/holds former Michigan State CB Arjen Colquhoun on this running play during mandatory minicamp on June 16. And who exactly is Arjen Colquhoun?

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39. Even as late as Michigan State's pro day, Colquhoun didn't have his hair in dreads. And since I couldn't find any pictures of him with his helmet off after he signed with the Cowboys, I'm posting his headshot (taken on May 5) from the Cowboys' website. Technically he's from Canada; but Windsor is right across the river from Detroit and only 100 miles away from MSU's campus in East Lansing. He didn't move into the starting lineup until his senior season with the Spartans, during which he had 2 INT and 10 PBU. Maybe one day years from now we'll see him in a Cowboys uniform with his dreads grown long enough to be seen outside his helmet. But having never paid any attention to him while he was playing in college, I wouldn't bet on that one way or the other.

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40. The other Cowboy rookie with dreads is 6-3, 305-pound DT Rodney Coe, shown at rookie minicamp on May 7 (on left) and standing next to Cedric Thornton, the former Eagle who signed with the Cowboys as a free agent, during an OTA practice on June 1 (on right). Coe played two seasons in junior college then one at Iowa State before transferring to Akron after being dismissed from the team at Iowa State. Not surprisingly he dominated in his only season in the MAC, recording 8.5 TFL and 2 sacks in 2015. Now let's see if he can dominate on Sundays.

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The NFC West is by far the division with the most rookies with dreads this year. When training camp started, there were 16, including 7 who were drafted.


















41. Laremy Tunsil (drafted in the 1st round) drew most of the attention at Mississippi pro day, but the Rebels' other starting OT, Fahn Cooper, showed he's an NFL prospect too (at pro day on left and the Combine on right). After redshirting as a freshman in 2011, Cooper has started every game since - at Bowling Green as a freshman, junior college as a sophomore, and Ole Miss the last two seasons.

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42. Fahn Cooper, listed at 6-5 and 306 pounds, was one of only two OTs with dreads drafted. The San Francisco 49ers, needing to improve their O-line - and needing to increase their number of players with dreads - picked him near the end of round 5. He is said to be a good run blocker but not good at pass protection. His days of being in the starting lineup every week are probably over.

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43. The 49ers signed three players with dreads right after the draft, but former Arizona State DT Demetrius Cherry is the only one left. Yet another member of this class of rookies with dreads to have played in junior college, The 6-6, 300-pound Cherry was a part-time starter the last two seasons with the Sun Devils.

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44. Lenny Jones, who had 20 career sacks and 3 INT as a DE during his 4-year college career for Nevada, was with the team through rookie minicamp, OTAs, mandatory minicamp, and the start of training camp, trying to make the position change to LB; but he was let go less than a week after camp began. That's the bad news. The good news is that the 6-3, 270-pound Jones, who went to high school about 5 miles away from the Oakland Raiders' home stadium, was immediately claimed by the Raiders after being waived by the 49ers; hopefully he'll take advantage of his 2nd chance.

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45. Darren Lake, who spent all 4 years in college as a reserve DT on Alabama's talented D-line, is still with the 49ers, but his dreads are not. The dreads he had during rookie minicamp on May 7 (on left) disappeared sometime around Memorial Day. The photo on right is from OTA practice on June 3.

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46. Marshawn Lynch may have retired, but there still might be a RB with dreads carrying the ball for the Seattle Seahawks this season. Same as the 49ers, the Seahawks are woefully low in the number of players with dreads; so hopefully former Arkansas RB Alex Collins will make the team and keep that number from going any lower. Collins, here smiling while stretching at rookie minicamp on May 8, was drafted by the Seahawks three picks before the 49ers took Fahn Cooper near the end of the 5th round. He is the first RB with dreads ever drafted by the Seahawks.

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47. Alex Collins, a Ft. Lauderdale, FL, native, was highly recruited coming out of high school; and he lived up to expectations during his three seasons with Arkansas. With his long dreads - sometimes reduced, sometimes not - spilling out of his helmet, the 5-10, 217-pound Collins rushed for over 1,000 yards all 3 years, including a career high 1,577 in 2015, and averaged 5.6 yards per carry for his career. No way he's going to do 5.6 behind the Seahawks' O-line; but if they can give him just a little blocking, he has a chance to be very successful in the years ahead.

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48. Last year FAU sent Lucky Whitehead to the NFL, and maybe this year they'll send Brandin Bryant, here doing a drill at one of the NFL's regional combines on Mar. 13. Bryant, a 6-2, 289-pound DT, had 10.5 TFL and 5 sacks in a strong 2015 senior season for the Owls and then opened a lot of eyes when he ran a speedy (for a D-lineman) 4.81-second 40-yard dash at the regional combine .....

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49. That time in the 40, plus the 38 reps he did on the bench press at FAU's pro day two weeks later gave the Seahawks the bright idea that Bryant might make a great fullback. Notice that after signing him as a free agent, they assigned him jersey #46, which is not a number a D-lineman is allowed to wear. I don't know about him playing on offense; but when you are as big and strong as he is and can move as fast as he can, you ought to be able to do something to help an NFL team, so let's hope to see him in uniform on opening day.

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There are four rookies with dreads trying to make the Rams' roster in their first season back in Los Angeles since 1994 - and for a while it looked like it was going to be five.






















50. The only TE with dreads drafted this year and one of only two players with dreads from FCS schools drafted, former South Carolina State Bulldog Temarrick Hemingway is shown in action in both photos from his first NFL practice on May 6 after being drafted by the Rams in the 6th round. Weighing less than 200 pounds when he first signed with SCSU, Hemingway is now listed at 6-5 and 244 pounds. Not surprisingly his strength is as a receiver, not a blocker.

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51. Temarrick Hemingway and Tyler Higbee, the TE the Rams drafted in the 4th round, listen to instructions from their new position coach, John Lilly, on May 6. With the departure of Jared Cook, the Rams are in search of a pass-catching TE. The question is whether Hemingway and Higbee will be competing for one roster spot or if the Rams plan to keep them both.

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52. 13 picks after they picked Hemingway, the Rams drafted another player with dreads in round 6, and he's covering Hemingway here during an OTA practice on May 31 - former Kentucky LB Josh Forrest, the last of four LBs with dreads drafted this year.

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53. If he had been in the league last season, Josh Forrest might have made my list of the top 30 players with the longest dreads. Hopefully he'll be as productive for the Rams as he was at UK, where he moved into the lineup during his junior year and led the team in tackles in both of his final two seasons.
On a side note, where in the world did the Rams hold their rookie minicamp? It looks like they're in somebody's back yard.

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54. When I saw that former South Carolina star Pharoh Cooper had twisted his hair into dreads (at pro day on Mar. 30 in left photo and on May 7 on right), I was all excited about being able to welcome him to the house. But unfortunately Cooper, a WR the Rams drafted in the 4th round, changed his mind because when he showed up for training camp, the beginner dreads were gone and he had gone back to normal, short hair.

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55. Brian Randolph had dreads only during his final two seasons at Tennessee, so it's not until now that we're starting to see them more easily outside his helmet. Randolph, a 6-0, 198-pound S, was signed by the Rams after the draft after starting in all 5 of his years for the Volunteers, including when he had to redshirt during 2012 after being injured in the 3rd game of the season. He finished at UT with career totals of 8 INT and 13 PBU in 53 games.

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56. I did not watch much of Day 3 of the Combine, so I didn't find out that Cory Littleton had dreads until seeing this picture (on left) of him at Washington's pro day on Mar. 31 He debuted his dreads sometime between Weeks 3 and 13 of his 2015 senior season with the Huskies, a season in which he had career highs of 11 TFL and 6 sacks. A 6-3, 227-pound LB, Littleton is not even listed on the current depth chart on the Rams' website, so he's got a lot of impressing to day if he plans on making the 53-man regular season roster.

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Believe it or not, there are as many or more rookies with dreads in the Arizona Cardinals' training camp than in each of the entire five divisions featured in part 2 of this dread gallery. 24 players on the Cardinals' current roster are listed as rookies, and 7 of them have dreads, including three who were drafted .....


57. ..... Two of the three sign their waiver paperwork on May 5, the day before beginning rookie minicamp - former Mississippi DT Robert Nkemdiche on the right and former Midwestern State (who?) S Marqui Christian on the left. Christian was picked in the 5th round, while Nkemdiche was taken with the 30th pick in the 1st round. Draft choices sign injury waivers before rookie participating in minicamp that ensures they'll still be offered a fair contract if they suffer a serious injury during the minicamp.

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58. As you can see, the 6-4, 296-pound Nkemdiche, shown in both photos during his first practice on May 6, got a late start with his dreads. He didn't debut them until his junior season in 2015. He was the #1 recruit in the nation coming out of high school in Georgia in 2013 and lived up to expectations at Ole Miss, being named 2nd team AP All-America as both a sophomore and junior. 19 of his 93 career tackles were TFL. An arrest for marijuana possession two weeks before last Christmas caused him to be suspended for the Sugar Bowl and to fall almost out of the 1st round of the draft. If he can keep his nose clean, the Cardinals will have gotten a steal.

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59. I don't know how Robert Nkemdiche's new position coach ranks as a coach, but he certainly speaks from experience. Brentson Buckner played a total of 174 NFL games over 12 seasons on the D-line between 1994 and 2005, never playing fewer than 12 games in every season. Hopefully Robert is paying attention as Buckner gives him some wisdom during OTA practice on May 16.

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60. You can actually see Robert Nkemdiche's dreads a little bit as he wears the helmet cam during OTA practice on June 1. You can catch some of Nkemdiche's work in this video on the Cardinals' website: http://www.azcardinals.com/videos/videos/Unfiltered---Defensive-Line-Work-/c97c0d43-af66-4773-b5f1-b90aa10c100a

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61. Pro Bowl DE/DT Calais Campbell catches his breath and checks to see if the new guy is going to be good enough to play alongside him this year during the first week of OTAs on May 19. Campbell has played in the last two Pro Bowls; but maybe, with a little help from Nkemdiche, he'll playing the week after the Pro Bowl this season.

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62. Marqui Christian takes a water break during his first practice with the Cardinals on May 6. I bet I wasn't the only one going "WHO?" when his name was called late in round 5 of the draft. You didn't read about him anywhere in my draft preview because honestly I didn't know that he had dreads, nor had I ever even heard of him before his name was called.

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63. No, the Cardinals didn't draft Marqui Christian to play volleyball, although that was the kind of ball used in this drill from OTA practice on May 24. The photo on the right is from May 16. Christian, 5-11 and 196 pounds is a native of Spring, TX (a suburb of Houston), and found his way to Midwestern State (northwest of Dallas) for college. Despite getting 0 INT and only 3 PBU in his 2015 senior season, he still was named winner of the Cliff Harris Award for the best defensive player in Division 2 or lower. Obviously Marqui is more of a strong S than a free S. Here is his draft profile from NFL.com: http://www.nfl.com/draft/2016/profiles/marqui-christian?id=2556277

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64. The only safety with dreads drafted this year, Marqui Christian has a dream: to be starting alongside Tyrann Mathieu in the Cardinals' secondary sooner rather than later. But several veteran DBs on the roster will be trying to make that an impossible dream. In fact, it sounds like Christian is the same kind of player as D.J. Swearinger; so it may come to pass that they won't both make the team.

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65. CB Harlan Miller, one of the players featured in my draft preview, had his dreads looking good at the Combine (left photo) on Feb. 29; but they were reduced by the time he showed up with the Cardinals, after they drafted him in the 6th round.

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66. It's the moment almost everyone who starts playing football is hoping for - signing your first NFL contract. Marqui Christian makes it official on May 9, just after the end of rookie minicamp. 4 CBs with dreads were drafted this year, and the 6-0, 182-pound Miller is the only one from an FCS school. But he'll have to show he can cover receivers a lot better than he faced at Southeastern Louisiana if he's planning on having a long career.

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67. Marqui Christian checks out the competition during practice on May 16. #33 is S Matthias Farley, one of four rookies with dreads the Cardinals signed after the draft and one of the 6 rookies with dreads from Notre Dame in training camps around the league. Christian is one of the players Farley will have to beat out in his longshot bid to make the team.

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68. It must have been like old times for Matthias Farley on this play during mandatory minicamp on June 7, as he chases his former teammate at Notre Dame, WR Amir Carlisle, who is actually sticking his tongue out at him while carrying the ball. Carlisle's odds of making the team are even longer than Farley's. Matthias was a part-time starter during his 4 seasons with the Irish and finished with 7 career INT (but none in 2015).

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69. Not only are Matthias Farley and Marqui Christian competing against each for a roster spot, there's also the competition for the Cardinal rookie with the longest dreads. The race looks too close to call as they meet with their position coach, Nick Rapone (between them in the photo), during an OTA practice on June 1.

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70. Another player trying to beat long odds to make the team is former LSU LB Lamar Louis. I mean, to me it seemed like he was just an average player during his career in college, In 4 seasons he had totals of 97 tackles (with no more than 30 in any season), 3.5 sacks, 0 sacks, and 0 INT - nothing special. But apparently the Cardinals see something they like in the 6-0, 231-pounder.

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Showing that it's not all about the defense, the Cardinals have a couple of rookies with dreads who play on offense too ...

71. Just as with Marqui Christian, I had never heard of WR Chris Hubert before either until he signed with the Cardinals. That's because he played his college ball in the Division 2 CIAA, for Fayetteville State. According to his bio on the Cardinals website Hubert is the school's record holder with 19 career TD catches, 13 of which came during his senior season in 2015.

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72. Well, at least we know one thing about Chris Hubert - he's smart. Smart enough to spend some time listening to one of the NFL's best receivers ever, Larry Fitzgerald, during the first week the rookies and veterans practiced together on May 12. If it looks like Hubert is a bit small, it's because he is: 5-9 and 155 pounds. An Aug. 5 article on the Cardinals website indicates that Chris is off to a very good start in training camp. But I'm not going to get excited until he starts making plays in the preseason games.

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73. There are only two TEs in this year's class of rookies with dreads; and the same as with Temarrick Hemingway with the Rams, Hakeem Valles played for an FCS team in college. With his career as a WR going nowhere after his first two seasons at Monmouth, Valles switched to TE and did well enough to move into the starting lineup, catching 18 passes as a junior (3 for TD) and 22 as a senior.

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74. Hakeem Valles gives the thumbs up on his chances to make the team during practice on May 16. Now listed at 6-5, 260 pounds (up from 235 when he was a WR), Valles ran his 40-yard dash in 4.63 seconds at a regional combine, which was faster than any of the TEs at the main Combine. Cardinal tight ends didn't exactly set the world on fire last season. If the late-blooming Valles continues to improve, we might actually see him in uniform sometime this season.
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You have reached the end of Part 1 of DG160. Check out Part 2 for some photos of the remaining 34 rookies with dreads.

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