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 nine action!
The Chicago Bears offense has suddenly started to click, something that was forewarned several weeks back! One of the most productive NFLPA Collegiate Bowl alumni over the past three seasons, wideout Darnell Mooney finally nabbed his first touchdown of the year and tied a season-high with seven catches for 43 receiving yards on Sunday. It was the ninth career touchdown for the former fifth-round pick who is coming off his first 1,000-yard season. It’s no secret that Mooney has emerged as the number one target for quarterback Justin Fields. That’s a long-distance connection that we could see get dialed up quite a bit in 2022 and beyond.
A third-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, veteran wide receiver Chris Conley was activated by the Tennessee Titans for their Sunday night affair against the original team that drafted him, the Kansas City Chiefs. While Conley did not record a catch during limited action, he could have an opportunity to carve out a role for the contending Titans, who lack playmakers at the position. During his eight-year career, Conley has played in 104 games, including 62 starts, racking up nearly 3,000 receiving yards, along with 15 touchdowns. Look for his speed to provide a much-needed spark in the Titan’s aerial attack.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni likes to ‘reward the dirty work players.’ For rookie tight end Jack Stoll, that means finding him a rare catch in the Eagles’ multi-faceted offensive scheme. Stoll collected his third catch of the year this past week, a rarity with so few targets available to go around on the team. The Nebraska product has earned a reputation for being a tenacious blocker and is one of two players in the NFL who have registered over 40% of his team’s snaps and has just three catches or less, with Marcedes Lewis being the other. It’s quite the distinction and Stoll should only hope to go on and have such a long, illustrious career as Lewis, who is now in his 17th season.
One player that NFL scouts were quick to fall in love with during NFLPA Collegiate Bowl practices in 2020 at the historic Rose Bowl was UCLA linebacker Krys Barnes, who shined all week long playing on his homefield turf. Despite going undrafted, the Green Bay Packers quickly identified his talent and Barnes would go on to earn a starting role as a rookie. He has recorded at least 80 tackles in each of his first two seasons but suffered an ankle injury in week one this year, which caused him to miss the next seven games. This past week, Barnes was activated from the IR and wasted little time making his presence felt. The Cali native collected eight tackles in his first game back, as he appears to be fully recovered and primed for a big second half.
With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in need of some reinforcements at linebacker, the team called up Genard Avery from the practice squad this past week and the 2018 fifth-round pick was there to answer the bell. While it may not have looked glorious in the box score, Avery made a pair of tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage but more importantly, he was able to provide pressure against Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams, registering three quarterback hits on the day. After starting 12 games for the Eagles a year ago, Avery brings a veteran savvy that the Bucs could rely upon going forward.
One of several prominent NFLPA Collegiate Bowl alumni now playing a key role on the New York Jets defensive unit is safety Will Parks. A sixth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Arizona product has appeared in games for four different organizations over the past seven seasons, including seven games thus far for Gang Green. It has been an ebullient past several weeks for the Philadelphia native. This past week, he played a part in knocking off the division-leading Buffalo Bills. Two weeks ago, he took care of his personal vendetta against his first team the Denver Broncos, where he spent four seasons before departing without a contract offer. Three weeks ago, Parks had a huge blocked punt that was scooped up and scored, as the Jets have suddenly won four of their last five games. Buckle up and let’s ride, or as they prefer to say in New York, ‘Wheels Up!’
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Alumni Spotlight