Fifteen former Frogs are on active rosters to open the 2016 NFL season, and three more have a chance to see snaps this fall. Let’s take a look at where to find TCU players across the NFL landscape.
Jonathan Anderson, LB - Chicago Bears: Anderson was the forgotten member of a 2014 linebacking corp that was the premiere unit of a dominant defensive unit for the Peach Bowl champions. But now, just two years later, he is the only one on an active roster. Anderson came on late last season, posting a career best 12 tackles against the Chargers last November. He should see significant snaps for a Bears team in rebuild mode.
Trevone Boykin, QB - Seattle Seahawks: One of the biggest surprises of the preseason, Boykin may have been the second best rookie QB from the class of 2016, all but locking up the backup role behind Russell Wilson. With a similar skill set to the Seattle starter, Boykin’s poise, decision making, and ability to make plays with his feet vaulted him over Jake Heaps on the depth chart and left Pete Carroll confident enough in the rookie to not re-sign veteran Tarvaris Jackson. The Seahawks certainly hope their young gunslinger doesn’t play this year, but seem confident in his abilities should Wilson miss any time.
Marcus Cannon, OL - New England Patriots: It’s hard to believe that big Cannon has been in the league for six years, which is a success in itself after he was diagnosed with cancer during the pre-draft process. Cannon is expected to start at right tackle for the Pats this season, who will be looking for stability on offense while QB Tom Brady is out on suspension. He has a Super Bowl and Rose Bowl ring already in his young career; not bad for a guy who was fighting for his life just a few short years ago.
Tank Carder, LB - Cleveland Browns: The Cleveland Browns are far and away the youngest team in the league, making fifth year veteran Tank Carder one of the elder statesmen of the group. Carder is expected to start the season as the backup to Christian Kirksey at ILB, as well as be a contributor on the special teams unit.
Andy Dalton, QB - Cincinnati Bengals: Oh, what could have been for the Red Rifle, who looked on his way to a league MVP and potential Super Bowl appearance before breaking his thumb making a tackle after an interception late in the year. Dalton was putting up career numbers and had his team cruising long with a 10-2 record. Before his injury, Dalton had a QB rating of over 100 while throwing 25 touchdowns against seven picks. With much of the team returning around him, big things are expected of Cincy again this year, and a healthy Dalton could lead them to the highest of heights.
Josh Doctson, WR - Washington Redskins: After suffering an achilles injury in spring camp, Doc spent most of his summer and training camp rehabbing, and did not see the field in any of the Skins four preseason games. Doc is expected to dress this week, and should see some snaps. But coach Jay Gruden plans to work his first round pick in slowly, and not give him too much, too quickly. Here’s hoping Josh gets his first NFL catch sooner rather than later!
Jerry Hughes, DE - Buffalo Bills: The Buffalo defense should be one of the best in the league, led by the Rex and Rob Ryan Experiment. Hughes has 29.5 sacks through his first six years in the league, but after amassing only five a season ago, the onus is on Hughes to carry the pass rush to the expected heights. With injuries taking their toll throughout the early portion of fall camp and a suspension to Marcell Dareus costing him the first four games, Hughes is the the most talented member of a group that will determine the success of the defensive unit as a whole.
Joey Hunt, C - Seattle Seahawks: Joey Hunt is one of the surprises of the TCU rookie class, as the former Frog stalwart worked his way from sixth round draft pick to second string center for an offensive line that has struggled over the last couple of seasons in Seattle. Hunt, who many considered to be undersized heading into the draft, won over his teammates and coaches with his heady play and consistency. His leadership was evident from OTAs, and coach Pete Carroll was confident enough to cut veteran, and former starter, Patrick Lewis, last week. Hunt will play this season, and it wouldn’t be surprising to those who have followed his career if he works his way into the starting line up before too long.
Colin Jones, S - Carolina Panthers: Colin Jones heads into his sixth pro season having established himself as one of the best special teams players in the league. Though he only has 75 career tackles, and rarely sees time on the defensive side of the ball, he has carved out a nice little niche as a leader in Carolina, a team that opens the season tonight against Denver and once again has serious Super Bowl aspirations. Jones has made a nice living by sticking around and doing his job, whatever it may be.
Jeremy Kerley, WR - San Francisco 49ers: Kerley has been on three teams in the last few months, having matriculated from the Jets to the Lions to the 9ers since the off-season began. After being released by New York, Kerley signed with Detroit, where he hoped to take some of the targets that would have gone to Calvin Johnson. But after not seeing the field much in the preseason, Kerley was traded to San Fran, where he should have no problem moving up a unit that has struggled for the last few seasons. If that is, the Niners find a QB that can complete passes with any regularity.
Derrick Kindred, S - Cleveland Browns: Kindred made quite the impression in Cleveland throughout the off-season and camp, showing his toughness, leadership, and heady play on the field. Kindred is listed as the backup to Ibraheim Campbell heading into the regular season, and has a good shot to earn meaningful snaps at the back end of a very young defense. It will be fun to see if he and Tank get on the field together on defense.
Marshall Newhouse, OT - New York Giants: Newhouse, who spent five of his first six seasons with the Packers, game to the Giants a year after protecting Andy Dalton in Cincinnati. Newhouse is slated to start at right tackle for the G-Men, helping to shore up a unit that has struggled over the course of the last several seasons. He has been a solid, if not spectacular, player at each of his three stops, but has a chance to have a breakout season and earn a longer contract.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OT - Philadelphia Eagles: Big V is currently listed as the third string right tackle for the Eagles, but with a suspension looming for Lane Johnson, he will likely move up after week one. After struggling with holding penalties in the preseason, Big V showed he still has a lot of work to do, but could be a significant piece along the line going forward.
Jason Verrett, CB - San Diego Chargers: It’s hard to believe that Verrett has been in the league for going on three years now, but after missing the majority of his rookie year, he has a lot to build off of from a solid 2015 campaign. Verrett is becoming one of the best young corners in the league, and should shine for a sub-par unit in San Diego this fall, building on the three picks and 47 stops he had a season ago.
Aaron Green, RB - Los Angeles Rams (practice squad): Aaron Green had a solid preseason, but an untimely injury cost him an active roster spot. Green has a good shot to see regular season snaps, either with the Rams or another NFL team, based off of the skills he showed in three preseason games.
Kolby Listenbee, WR - Buffalo Bills (not football injury list): Listenbee, still recovering from double hernia surgery, will miss at least the first six weeks of the regular season. The Bills have a deep receiver corp, but Listenbee’s speed will make it hard to keep him off the field once he is fully healthy and cleared to return to the team.
P. J. Dawson, LB - Cincinnati Bengals (practice squad): Dawson, a second year player, was a surprise cut by the Bengals in the final rounds. After working out for the Bucs, Dawson made the decision to remain in Cincy, where he will be on the practice squad to start the season.