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 eight action!
It’s time to do a midseason check-in from Hard Knocks preseason darling Malcolm Rodriguez. While the Detroit Lions season hasn’t quite fulfilled the hype, the play of ‘Rodrigo’ has ensured the team that they have secured a key piece in the middle of their defense. Despite losing to the Miami Dolphins, the sixth-round rookie was all over the field on Sunday, registering seven tackles, one sack, another quarterback hit, one fumble recovery, and one pass deflection. On the season, Rodriguez has accumulated 50 total tackles, including five tackles for loss in seven games, demonstrating dependable, consistent performance.
In that same game, opposite of ‘Rodrigo’ for Miami was seven-year veteran Elandon Roberts, who led the Dolphins’ defensive charge with eight tackles during their win. With eleven more tackles this season, Roberts would have totaled 200-plus career tackles with his second organization. He racked up 206 tackles during his first four seasons with the New England Patriots and is on pace to break his career-high of 83 tackles set a year ago. With over $10M in career earnings, the 28-year-old Roberts is set to become a free agent after the season and could be due for another life-changing payday.
A ‘Temple Tuff’ product, linebacker Shaun Bradley is one of the players that Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni credits for doing the ‘dirty work.’ A special teams ace, Bradley has accumulated 144 reps on special teams, while providing a dog mentality on the gunner and blocking units. Last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he provided a spark on special teams with a big tackle. A boisterous personality whose value is greater than realized amongst general observers, Bradley has embraced his role and even fill-in and made one start last season, playing admirably well.
Coming out of Fresno State via Sacramento State, cornerback DaRon Bland flew under the radar during the 2022 NFL Draft. Bland was one of fourteen players chosen from the 10th Annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, who did receive an invitation to the NFL Combine. However, scouts in attendance at Pasadena this past January saw up close just how sticky he was in coverage. The glimpses we saw at practice throughout the week have followed him to Big D, as Bland has stepped in serviceably for the contending Dallas Cowboys. Filling in as the nickelback, the California native did a stellar job shutting down fellow NFLPA Bowl alumni Darnell Mooney when the Cowboys toppled the Chicago Bears this past week. With mainstay Jourdan Lewis out for the year, look for Bland to play a vital role down the stretch of the season for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in Big D.
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Samuel Womack registered a tackle this past week during the 49ers’ impressive victory over the world-champion Los Angeles Rams. He has seen an uptick in playing time in recent weeks, as the 49ers have struggled with some injuries to their secondary. That places the rookie under the spotlight, making him a likely target against savvy quarterback Justin Herbert this upcoming week. Womack has lined up primarily in the slot and has a huge opportunity ahead of him on a franchise with ‘super’ aspirations!
Washington Commanders safety Darrick Forrest collected a pair of tackles during the Commanders’ win over the Indianapolis Colts. The versatile Forrest saw increased playing time (39 reps) at safety, in addition to sliding into a linebacker role at times. He has shown a propensity for the big play and is quickly emerging as one of the best defenders on the team. This past Sunday was another clear example of that. The second-year pro delivered a big-time hit on running back Jonathan Taylor, jarring the ball free and forcing a critical fumble on what appeared to be a Colts go-ahead scoring drive. Earlier in the season, Forrest created another key turnover with an interception and now has 37 tackles serving as the last line of defense for the Commanders.
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Alumni Spotlight