Examining Tulane products’ fits as NFL rookies

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Tyjae Spears
(Photo: Parker Waters)

The 2023 NFL Draft yielded one of the better outcomes in recent history for the Tualne Green Wave.

Two players come off the board in the third round while eight more signed as undrafted free agents following the event on the heels on the success of a conference championship-winning season capped off by a New Year’s Six Bowl game victory.

Here’s a look into how three prominent rookies fits in with his new team at the next level:

Tennessee Titans – Round 3, No. 81: RB Tyjae Spears

Not only does Spears have the chance to prove himself as the best running back in this draft class, he also could wind up as one of the biggest steals of the draft The Titans get a high-value pick here after Spears demanded attention with a meteoric rise as a driving force in one of college football’s most historic seasons.

Reports on draft weekend regarding Spears’ concerning knee issues moving forward did not overly damage his draft position, and his new team is ‘comfortable’ with their selection of the Ponchatoula native.

A versatile player who has found success lining up as a traditional back, catching passes out of the backfield, playing the Wildcat role, the elusive Spears can do it all. He joins a group of rushers that includes one of the best of all-time at the position — Derrick Henry.

Several have questioned what the acquisition could mean for the 29-year old Henry, but it seems reasonable that with his high workload over many season, Spears could end up splitting the touches in the backfield sooner rather than later. First, it is likely Spears functions as a change of pace back early as a rookie.

Dorian Williams

Buffalo Bills – Round 3, No, 91: LB Dorian Williams

The Bills didn’t wait until the later rounds to address their need at linebacker. Frequently leading the stat sheet for the Green Wave, Williams brings a high level of aggression within his game and can be a heavy contributor to the pass rush as an off-ball player.

For Buffalo, some were under the impression that his role would be to fill the spot of middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who departed from the team during free agency. It has been made clear that’s not the case, as Bills general manager Brandon Beane recently said Williams would start off his NFL career as an outside linebacker but it is possible he could end up back on the inside.

Expect the floor for Williams to be as a key special teams contributor but a Day 2 selection means he will be given ample opportunity to earn significant snaps for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

Undrafted Free Agent Signings

LB Nick Anderson, New Orleans Saints

Anderson had a similar amount of success as Williams for the Green Wave, but concerns about his height and wingspan kept him from being drafted.

With the pickup of Anderson, the Saints get a linebacker with a potentially good ceiling who has already shown he has a high floor and should at least be an asset on special teams out of the gate with the potential to develop into even more at a position lacking proven depth on the New Orleans depth chart.

Anderson has embraced trying to follow a similar path in the same organiztion as another undersized linebacker who became a Hall of Famer. The Saints would gladly take anything close to a Sam Mills-like outcome on a UDFA signing.

Other former Green Wave playerslikely to be on the bubble with a chance to edge their way onto a 53-man roster or find a place on a practice squad via the UDFA route:

S Macon Clark, Chicago Bears
WR Shae Wyatt, San Francisco 49ers
WR Duece Watts, Green Bay Packers
TE Will Wallace, Washington Commanders
S Lummie Young IV – Indianapolis Colts
TE Tyrick James, Kansas City Chiefs
S Larry Brooks, Cincinnati Bengals

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Crissy Froyd

CCS Columnist

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Crissy Froyd is a sports reporter of roughly nine years who graduated from LSU and has spent time at USA TODAY SMG, NBC Sports and the Fan Nation network on Sports Illustrated. She specializes in quarterback analysis and covers the SEC and college football across the state of Louisiana in addition to working with several college quarterbacks across the nation.

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