With approximately 250 players on active NFL rosters or practice squads each Sunday, there are numerous NFLPA Collegiate Bowl standouts every week around the league. The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, known for being the most diverse all-star game on the NFL Draft circuit has announced the 11th annual event will be held on Saturday, January 28th, 2023, and will air on NFL Network. While we await the next class to be announced, here’s a look at some of the notable alumni who made an impact in NFL week six action!
One of the more intriguing developmental players in the NFL is Atlanta Falcons defensive back-turned-running back and special teams dynamo Avery Williams. An All-Mountain West First Team selection coming out of Boise State, where he was a walk-on, Williams was selected in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. During training camp, the team approached Williams about making a switch to running back due to the lack of depth and injuries on the roster. The move has proven to be a huge success, thanks largely in part to the high football IQ of Williams, who according to head coach Arthur Smith, is one of the smartest players he has ever been around! This past week, the Pasadena native accumulated 84 all-purpose yards in a big win over the division-rival San Francisco 49ers. Two weeks ago, he scored his first career touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In addition, Williams has recorded a special teams tackle in each of the past two games, while also moonlighting as an occasional slot receiver. On the season, he has totaled 54 rushing yards, 26 receiving yards, 97 kick return yards, and 142 punt return yards, while leading the NFL with a 17.8 punt return average. Williams should be viewed as a key building block for the re-made Falcons moving forward.
When star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. went down with a torn ACL during the Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Rams knew they were going to have to fill his void both on offense and special teams heading into the 2022 season. While the production has been replaced by multiple players, none have risen to the occasion more than fifth-year veteran Brandon Powell, who is a threat to score with the ball in his hands. The Florida product nabbed four catches, totaling 27 receiving yards for the world champions during their win over the Carolina Panthers this past week. Through the first six games of the season, Powell has accumulated 324 all-purpose yards, including kick and punt returns. In fact, Powell also played a key role during the Rams week two victory over the Arizona Cardinals and contributed with a catch in week two action during a win over the Atlanta Falcons. In fact, the Rams are undefeated in games which Powell records a catch, as he has somewhat played the role of good luck charm.
Elevated to the 53-man roster in time for Monday Night Football on prime time, was Los Angeles Chargers offensive lineman Foster Sarell, who is the story of an underdog. Undrafted out of Stanford in 2021, he is one of just four Korean-Americans to play in the NFL. He started 17-of-34 games in college, primarily at right tackle before signing with the Baltimore Ravens. After bouncing around and landing in Los Angeles, Sarell has since stuck his nose in the playbook to learn the complex scheme of headman Brandon Staley. His dedication and commitment was rewarded this past week, as Sarell was able to contribute to the Bolts victory over the Denver Broncos. Here’s to more successful Sunday’s ahead for the Stanford mauler.
The New Orleans Saints have benefitted from the return of defensive tackle Malcolm Roach. A ferocious run-stuffer inside the trenches, Roach has earned a reputation for clogging up the middle, while engulfing double teams and opening up rush lanes for his fellow backers. Roach was basking in the glory of doing the dirty work once again this past Sunday. While his contributions don’t necessarily show up in the box score, he has collected three tackles during the past two weeks, since being activated from the injured reserve. Expect Roach to make a significant impact and provide a big boost for the Saints defense the rest of the way, as the third-year pro could be in line to start for New Orleans.
The New York Jets have one of the stingiest defensive units in the NFL, led by head coach Robert Saleh. However, the locomotive in the middle of it all is linebacker Quincy Williams. Returning back from an injury hiatus, Williams propelled the Jets defense with a team-high 14 tackles, pulling off the upset victory over the Green Bay Packers. The Murray State product and Birmingham native has carved out a home in New York after being selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. His improved play under Saleh has been noticeable, too. In 18 games during his time in Jacksonville, Williams had just 59 total tackles. Through 20 games with the Jets, he has averaged over seven tackles per game, collecting 142 tackles in 20 games played. Quincy, along with his brother Quinnen, are starring for the Jets on Broadway.
One of the traditions that the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl takes great pride in is our ‘Salute To Service’ military commitment, which ensures that at least one top prospect from each of the three military academies (Air Force, Army and Navy) receives an invitation to participate in the most diverse all-star game event on the planet. In 2020, Army linebacker Cole Christiansen earned that distinction and made the most of his opportunity. Signing with the Los Angeles Chargers as an undrafted free agent, Christiansen would spend two seasons with the organization while appearing in seven games. A notorious special teams standout, Christiansen inked with the Kansas City Chiefs during the offseason and made good on his signing this past week, making an exceptional play on punt coverage to pin the Buffalo Bills down on their own four-yard line. While the Chiefs didn’t pull out the victory, it seemed to be a sign of positive things to come for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Alumni. We salute you CC!
Catch up on past Alumni Spotlights with the links below.