Florida Atlantic Finding Its Way into the NFL

John LawrenceContributor IMay 6, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 21: Willie Rose #46 of the Florida Atlantic University Owls celebrates after a touchdown against the Memphis University Tigers in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on December 21, 2007 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Well it took 10 years and only five years since joining Division-I Football, but it looks like FAU is finally going to have a player or two (or three) on an NFL roster this season.  You have to like everyone's chances.

First you have QB Rusty Smith.  I think Tennessee planned on grabbing Rusty as an undrafted free-agent after the draft, but it appears they were very impressed by him. The fact that New England looked him over twice forced Tennessee's hand into getting him in the sixth-round of the NFL draft because they just could not let him pass them by. 

It is extremely early, but at first glance one would say the Titans appear to be very pleased with their decision.  It is fairly apparent that the Titans will keep Rusty on the roster at the start of the season.  Teams don't typically waste any picks on players they think they will put on the practice squad (although it has happened before, I'd say it is unlikely).  Most observers think Rusty will be placed on the practice squad because the Titans won't want to bring four QB's to every game with them this season. 

Honestly, there is a high probability that the Titans will try to trade Kerry Collins before the start of the season.  Collins only has one more season with the team and although they are unlikely to get a draft pick for Collins they could get a decent back up at another position by dealing Collins.  There is even a slight chance they could be shopping Chris Simms.  It seems pretty strange to think they would shop Simms when they just got him, but maybe they weren't planning on getting a QB in the draft until they "fell in love" with Rusty Smith of FAU (according to Mike Heimerdinger, the Titan's Offensive Coordinator).  Even with keeping the current QB situation at Tennessee Rusty has a background that has prepared him to be able to have a good shot of at least challenging Chris Simms for the third spot on the depth chart.  Rusty is in a good position with Tennessee because nobody ahead of him is completely reliable.  Simms has had his shot and is destined to be a backup for the rest of his career, Collins is creeping up on retirement and Young is elusive but still struggles with accuracy (aka Michael Vick).  Rusty Smith's day in Tennessee could come, or if Vince Young improves then Rusty could become a good project to dangle out as trade bait in the years to come.

Second you have FB Willie Rose.  Rose has the absolute best shot of anybody to find his way (not only onto an NFL roster) but to actually get out on the field for some plays in the 2010 NFL season.  Rose was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Tennessee Titans.  It looks like they'll be keeping him at fullback which works to his advantage.  He only has one player to beat on the Titans at FB, and that is Ahmard Hall.  Their averages in rushing and receiving are very comparable, however Ahmard has been up against the best of the best and Willie, well you know the same old song and dance about level of competition.  Rose is obviously a solid FB and Ahmard only touched the ball 13 times last season for the Titans and had two fumbles that were lost.  That's not good no matter how you look at it.  Rose also had two fumbles in his senior season, but neither were lost and that was after 91 touches.  Ahmard is also 30 which isn't the best age when you're talking about RB's and FB's.  Above average 30 year old runners are tossed aside all the time, so I'm thinking if Rose really shows out in camp he could even go from undrafted free agent to starting FB for the Tennessee Titans.

Last you have FAU Tight End, Jason Harmon who has been converted to wide receiver at the pro-level.  Obviously Harmon needs to be a wide receiver at the pro-level because he lacks the size of a typical blocking tight end in the NFL.  He has perfect structure and skills to function as a secret weapon (second string) wide receiver in the NFL.  Harmon was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent.  Jacksonville has a rather large crew competing at the position but few of them have Harmon's super qualities.  Jason Harmon has been victim to dropped passes in the past, but if he is cured and can pull them in, he has quite unrivaled abilities at getting yards after the catch.  His chances aren't as great at making an NFL roster as Rusty Smith and Willie Rose, but if Jacksonville can harness Harmon's strengths and get him the ball in the middle of the field then they may be able to see his legendary Harmon Hop in the NFL.

Future FAU Owls with a shot at landing on an NFL roster:


Possible FAU Owl Draft Picks:  
None determined as of yet.

Possible FAU Owl Undrafted Free Agents: 
QB Jeff Van Camp
DB Tavious Polo


Possible FAU Owl Draft Picks:
RB Alfred Morris

Possible FAU Owl Undrafted Free Agents:
CB Tarvoris Hill