Michigan State Football players are heading to the NFL. Wide receiver Jayden Reed was taken 50th overall by the Green Bay Packers, making him the first of three former Spartans to hear their name called during the NFL draft. While the draft gets the focus for obvious reasons, a large number of East Lansing products will get their chance at an NFL roster spot through the UDFA process (Undrafted Free Agents).
Here is a run down of where Michigan State’s players are heading for NFL workouts.
Jayden Reed, Wide Receiver, 2nd Round Pick, No. 50 overall - Green Bay Packers
Reed started his career at Western Michigan before joining his childhood friend Payton Thorne at Michigan State. Reed has clearly been the top receiver for the last two years and leaves a mark on the record brooks. In a shortened tenure in East Lansing, Reed is number 6 in career receptions (147), 7th in touchdown catches (18) and 12th in receiving yards (2,069). These are impressives stats after only playing in 31 games across 3-years at MIchigan State.
For Green Bay, they get a ready to go number 2 or 3 option at Wide Receiver. A team that needs offensive weapons, Reed should be a great fit.
Bryce Baringer, Punter, 6th Round Pick, 192nd overall - New England Patriots
From walk on to potential NFL starter. Bryce Baringer worked from a transfer walk on, to a guy not on the roster after disappointing numbers in a platooned sophomore year, to being invited back to the roster. The Spartans benefited from Baringer’s return, as he became one of the best punters in the nation. In his last year, Baringer led the nation and broke his own program record averaging 49 yards per punt, with 24 of at least 50 yards and 22 downed inside the 20 yard line.
Baringer was the first punter chosen in the 2023 draft.
Ameer Speed, Cornerback, 6th Round, 214th overall - New England Patriots
While it is fun to say that New England chose two Spartans, Speed is a guy the Patriots may have thought played for Georgia. The 5 year player at Georgia spent his last year of eligibility in East Lansing.
The six foot three Cornerback has good size and a forty yard dash of 4.3 seconds. His one year at Michigan State featured a career high 62 tackles and five pass breaks across 12 games. Good stats, even if the eye test didn’t always please fans. Speed participated in Georgia’s pro day (it was the same day as Michigan State’s) and his physical attributes were obviously enough to intrigue the Patriots. Speed should have a decent to good chance of making the roster and growing his skill set under the legendary head coach.
It is worth noting the Patriot’s draft received high marks by most commentators, including an A from Ringer. Important when that draft includes two Michigan State products.
Undrafted Free Agent Signings:
Jarrett Horst, Offensive Tackle - Miami Dolphins
Horst will be a fascinating test for non-NFL leagues. The solid left tackle was the number 1 overall pick in the USFL draft, but declined the offer to focus on the NFL draft. From number one to undrafted may be a hard pill to swallow. The Dolphins get a solid tackle who has improved at every stop of his peripatetic career - starting at Ellsworth Community College, then two years at Arkansas State before finishing two years and 15 starts at left tackle with the Spartans.
Jacob Slade, Defensive Tackle - Arizona Cardinals
Another player picked in the USFL draft (9th round pick) that chose to focus on the NFL, Slade will be joining a struggling Cardinals organization. Sade totaled 88 tackles, with 11.5 of those for a loss to go along with four sacks and a fumble recovery. New Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon found ways to use a deep defensive line with the Philadelphia Eagles, opening up a potential path to playing time for Slade.
Kendell Brooks, Safety - Arizona Cardinals
Brooks took full advantage of the injuries that decimated the Spartans secondary last year and held onto a starting spot. Across 11 games, Brooks totaled 100 tackles with 3.5 of them for a loss and added three forced fumbles and three pass breakups.
Xavier Henderson, Safety - Washington Commanders
Speaking of safety injuries, while Brooks benefited from them, Henderson was one of the victims. Across his five year career, the two time team captain had 273 tackles with 16.5 for a loss and three sacks. Henderson also added three interceptions, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and nine pass break ups in 53 games. Henderson started all 40 games he appeared in over his final four years - even if his last year was interrupted by injuries.
Ben VanSumeren, Linebacker - Philadelphia Eagles
VanSumeren had a phenomenal pro day. Almost all of his recorded numbers would have put him at the top - or first - in every category for linebackers at the NFL combine. His 42.5 inch vertical leap was four full inches higher than any linebacker at the combine this year. A broad jump of 10’11” would also have ranked first, while his 29 reps on the 225 pound bench press would have tied for first. VanSumeren’s 40 yard dash of 4.40 (some scouts had him at 4.36) would have ranked second among combine linebackers.
VanSumeren posted a game high seven tackles in the East-West Shrine Bowl. These types of numbers mean the Eagles may have gotten a steal in the UDFA process.
There are more Michigan State players looking for roles in the NFL, and we will keep you up to date on their deals.