The three-day long 2020 NFL Draft wrapped up on Saturday, which surprisingly saw only two Michigan State Spartans get drafted: cornerback Josiah Scott to the Jacksonville Jaguars (fourth round, No. 137 overall) and defensive end Kenny Willekes to the Minnesota Vikings (seventh round, No. 225 overall).
With pro days and individual team workouts being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the draft stock of many of these Michigan State players may have been affected. However, several Spartans have found NFL homes as undrafted free agents. They’ll have a chance to make a roster or practice squad, and will now compete with a chip on their shoulders.
So, who is being signed and where?
Joe Bachie, inside linebacker, New Orleans Saints
Arguably the most surprising Spartan to go undrafted, Bachie didn’t mince words about how he felt about it. It’s possible that NFL teams simply couldn’t get past his suspension after a failed PED test ended his senior season prematurely. Bachie now gets a chance to prove the doubters wrong in New Orleans’ attacking, physical defense. He joins fellow linebackers Demario Davis, Alex Anzalone, Kiko Alonso and others.
I’ll remember this.— Joe Bachie (@JoeBach35) April 25, 2020
Raequan Williams, defenive tackle Philadelphia Eagles
Williams was another player who was expected to be drafted in the later rounds, but for whatever reason, it didn’t happen. It didn’t take him long to find a new team, though. Williams will be headed to the NFC East as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have a loaded defensive line with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Javon Hargrave, but Williams will look to earn a roster spot as a backup/rotational interior defensive lineman.
Mike Panasiuk, defensive tackle, Las Vegas Raiders
Panasiuk, who was not invited to the NFL Combine, is headed to Las Vegas, as the Raiders make the move from Oakland. Panasiuk will play under head coach Jon Gruden and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. Other Raiders defensive linemen include Maliek Collins, Clelin Ferrell, Maurice Hurst and Maxx Crosby. The Raiders seem to love defensive linemen from universities in Michigan with Hurst (Michigan), Crosby (Eastern Michigan) and now Panasiuk.
Cody White, wide receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
When White announced his decision to forgo his senior year and enter the NFL Draft, it was a bit surprising. White was considered a fringe player to be drafted, but was invited to the NFL Combine. He’ll now join the Kansas City Chiefs, and fellow former Spartan, Felton Davis III, who the team signed as an undrafted free agent last year. Kansas City obviously has a stacked depth chart at the wide receiver position, with Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle and Davis, but White is ready to prove he belongs.
They just unleashed a beast that nobody will be ready for!! I can promise you that!!— Cody White (@codywhite_7) April 25, 2020
Darrell Stewart, Jr. wide receiver, Green Bay Packers
Stewart battled through injuries last year, and like White, was considered a fringe player to get drafted in an incredibly deep wide receiver class. Landing in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the football is a great spot for Stewart. The Packers lost Geronimo Allison this offseason, which will allow Stewart a great opportunity to compete for a roster spot against the likes of Allen Lazard, Equanimeous St. Brown and Jake Kumerow. The top receivers on Green Bay’s depth chart are Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Devin Funchess.
Tyler Higby, offensive lineman, Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings, who also drafted Kenny Willekes, put an emphasis on upgrading the offensive line. Minnesota drafted three offensive linemen: Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland, Oregon State guard Blake Brandel and Washburn guard Kyle Hinton. Higby has experience playing guard, center and tackle at the college level and will look to use his versatility to earn a spot on Minnesota’s crowded roster, which also features Garrett Bradbury, Riley Reiff, Brian O’Neill, Pat Elflein and others.
Brian Lewerke, quarterback, New England Patriots
Despite a junior year derailed by a shoulder injury and his final two seasons in a lackluster offense, Brian Lewerke has landed with the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent. Lewerke ranked first in school history in total offense with 9,548 yards (8,293 passing, 1,255 rushing) after starting 38 games and playing in 41 total. He ranks third in career starts for a Spartan quarterback. It will be interesting to see how he does under the tutelage of the Patriots on a team lacking depth at quarterback with the departure of Tom Brady. One interesting footnote on the current roster of the Patriots after signing Lewerke:
Also, Brian Hoyer is back in New England, which means the bookend QBs of the 13-year Mark Dantonio era of MSU football are now teammates. https://t.co/CZU9bDaNP2— Chris Solari (@chrissolari) April 26, 2020
This is a good situation for Lewerke under head coach Bill Belichick. He will now compete with Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham in a quarterback room with no clear leader.
Other names to watch out for include safety David Dowell, cornerback Josh Butler and tight end Matt Seybert. We will update this post if any of these players sign.