Former Louisville Players in the NFL: Guide and Analysis

With NFL rosters set to be reduced leading up to the 2021 season, a slew of former University of Louisville players look to make final roster cuts, while others are set on leaving their marks on the field for their respective teams. From Lamar Jackson to Jaire Alexander, 18 Cardinals are currently on active rosters across the league. Here’s a guide containing everything you need to know about each individual’s situation.


Atlanta Falcons ILB Dorian Etheridge

Exp. Rookie (2021 UDFA)

Etheridge is listed as third-string at the beginning of training camp, but has his work cut out for him in terms of making the final roster. The Falcons have one of the best linebacker cores in the league in Deion Jones and Foye Oluokon. Frankly, Etheridge’s status this season will depend on positional health within the organization and his performances in the preseason.


Atlanta Falcons RB Javian Hawkins

Exp. Rookie (2021 UDFA)

Hawkins begins training camp as the fourth string, and like Etheridge, will have to impress the higher-ups to secure a final roster spot. However, Qadree Wilson has 53 career rushing yards, and do-it-all Cordarrelle Patterson is primarily a wide receiver.

Kevin Knight and Adnan Ikic of FanSided’s The Falcoholic were in attendance at the Falcons’ third day of camp. Here’s what they had to say about Hawkins’ performance:

“Hawkins was an incredibly talented and standout running back at Louisville, earning All-ACC honors as a redshirt freshman after setting a school record with 1,525 rushing yards in 2019. He averaged even more yards per rush and developed his game as a receiver out of the backfield last season before opting out in the middle of the year.

Hawkins went undrafted but he landed in a very promising spot in Atlanta, where the running back depth chart is wide open behind Mike Davis. The Louisville alum was impressive today and he had an incredible touchdown run to impress coaches. I think he’ll not only make the roster, but also compete for carries.”


Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson

Exp. 3 years (2018 First-round)

What is there to truly put here other than the former MVP is looking to get over the hump and prove to the world that he can win a Super Bowl?


Carolina Panthers RB Reggie Bonnafon

Exp. 2 years (2018 UDFA)

After filling in occasionally due to injuries to those ahead in the depth chart, Bonnafon will go back to his role of a second/third string running back. Christian McCaffrey is healthy, while newcomers Trenton Cannon (New York Jets) and Chuba Hubbard (rookie) look to make impacts as well. Bonnafon’s versatility will ensure that he has some type of role in the rotation this fall.


Carolina Panthers OG John Miller

Exp. 6 years (2015 Third-Round)

Miller is protected to start at right offensive guard this season; with a new quarterback and one of the best running backs in the league in the same offensive unit, the Panthers’ offensive line will be under a magnifying glass this season.


Denver Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater

Exp. 7 years (2014 First-Round)

After signing a three-year deal for $63 million last offseason with the Carolina Panthers, Bridgewater’s journey took an unexpected turn when the franchise decided to part ways after the season. The former Cardinal signed a one-year deal with the Broncos and will be battling Drew Lock for the starting quarterback position.

You can read notes and takeaways from the Broncos’ camp here.


Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander

Exp. 3 years (2018 First-round)

Like his former teammate Lamar Jackson, Alexander is set for a huge pay-day sooner rather than later. Alexander returns to the Packers as their primary cornerback, and one of the top players at the position league-wide.

Houston Texans OT Geron Christian

Exp. 3 years (2018 Third-Round)

With Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard likely serving as the team’s starting tackles to begin the season, Christian will provide solid depth at the position and could possibly challenge the latter for the right tackle nod later in the year. Unfortunately for all three, the quarterback situation in Houston is beyond confusing at this time.


Houston Texans DT Brandon Dunn

Exp. 5 years (2014 UDFA)

After signing a three-year extension with the franchise last offseason, Dunn looks to return to form after fracturing his hip last December. Now that he is medically cleared, the veteran will be called upon to play a key role on the defensive line for the JJ Watt-less Houston Texans.


Kansas City Chiefs CB Marlon Character

Exp. Rookie (2021 UDFA)

Character joins a cornerback unit crowded with players looking to prove that they belong on the title-chasing Chiefs. Starting out as a fourth-stringer, Character may have to bide his time with the practice squad before getting an opportunity to suit up for Kansas City.


Los Angeles Chargers NT Jared Goldwire

Exp. Rookie (2021 UDFA)

Linval Joseph returns to the team as the starting nose tackle, but the backup role is up for grabs. Christian Covington and Breiden Fehoko have minimal experience; Goldwire will get enough opportunities in the preseason to convince new head coach Brandon Staley and company that he deserves the spot.

READ: Chargers 2021 UDFA Profile: DT Jared Goldwire


Los Angeles Rams WR Tutu Atwell

Exp. Rookie (2021 Second-Round)

The Rams wide receiving core is loaded with depth, making the path for Atwell to see substantial snaps as a wideout in year one a bit challenging. Of course, the preseason may change Sean McVay’s mind, but Atwell should still see immediate playing time as a kick/punt returner regardless.


Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker

Exp. 6 years (2015 First-Round)

Parker will start the season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list due to injury; when he returns, a vastly-improved wide receiver room mixed with a more-experienced and healthy Tua Tagovailoa grants Parker the opportunity to seamlessly step into a productive role once again.


New York Giants TE Cole Hikutini

Exp. 2 years (2017 UDFA)

The Giants utilize a two-tight end system, but Hikutini is buried in the depth chart behind Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, and others. The path to first-team snaps would result from other injuries, unfortunately.


New York Jets OT Mekhi Becton

Exp. 2 years (2020 First-Round)

As a rookie, Becton showed insane amounts of potential for an offense that lacked production. He is quickly becoming one of the league’s best left tackles and has his work cut out for him as he protects rookie quarterback Zach Wilson.


New York Jets DT Sheldon Rankins 

Exp. 5 years (2016 First-Round)

Rankins signed with the Jets after spending the first part of his career with the New Orleans Saints. The former first-rounder projects as one of New York’s starting defensive tackles, and has a ton of confidence for the unit moving forward.


San Francisco LB James Burgess

Exp. 3 years (2016 UDFA)

Burgess is now with his ninth team of his career, and it will be an uphill battle to stick in this situation. Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw make up one of the NFL’s best starting linebacker tandems; Burgess will have to beat out Azeez Al-Shaair for the backup role at middle linebacker.


Tennessee Titans WR Dez Fitzpatrick

Exp. Rookie (2021 Fourth-Round)

In an offense with Derrick Henry, wide receiver targets are going to be limited, especially since Julio Jones and AJ Brown are at the top of the depth chart. Josh Reynolds currently has the starting nod over Dez Fitzpatrick; that hasn’t stopped the rookie from turning heads already.

READ: Tennessee Titans fans are going to be shocked by Dez Fitzpatrick


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