After the Houston Cougars saw a run of having a player taken in the second round of the NFL draft for three straight years from 2007 to 2009, they have now gone two years in a row without a single player taken in any round. That doesn't mean that former Cougars aren't getting a look from pro teams, however. Immediately after the NFL lockout was lifted, a trio of recent UH grads received deals as undrafted free agents (UDFAs).
Of course, receiving an offer does not, by any means, guarantee a roster spot once the season starts. Numerous recent Cougar graduates (perhaps most notably Anthony "Quick Six" Alridge) have received deals as UDFAs, but were cut before the season began, and never saw the field in an NFL regular season game. Who has the best chance out of this year's crop to make the team? The argument for each player comes after the jump.
Isaiah Thompson, OG, Buffalo Bills. Thompson is something of a project pick. He had a good, if not NFL-worthy senior season, but it was also his first year playing the position in college, after getting switched over from the defensive line. Will the Bills have the patience to give Thompson a roster spot while he better learns the position? It's possible.
Loyce Means, DB, Buffalo Bills. Means wasn't the most consistent defender at the college level, but he certainly had his moments. (See his three-interception performance against Tulsa in 2008.) If he can get on a hot streak during camp and into the pre-season, he might make it hard for the Bills to cut him loose.
Matangi Tonga, DL/FB, Dallas Cowboys. Tonga played only a single season for the Cougars, having played previously at BYU and the College of San Mateo. He did suffer an injury and miss some time, but on good days, he could be a space-clogging force in the middle of the defensive line. That seems like it might be enough to get him some looks in the NFL, where such players are at a premium, but some teams also asked him to work out at full back (Tonga moves reasonably well for a man his size), so it's not immediately clear where the Cowboys plan on giving him a look.
L.J. Castile, WR, Cleveland Browns. Castile often frustrated fans during his time at UH with his inconsistency and occasional bad drops, but there was no disputing that he had that "wow" factor, the ability to sometimes make jaw-dropping plays. He was also proficient at blocking at the wide receiver position. Like Means, Castile's hopes rest on harnessing that come-and-go "wow" factor long enough to make it hard for his team to cut him.