Happy Labor Day to everyone! As you probably know, this weekend was cutdown time in the NFL. We knew a couple of guys were safe, but several guys were hanging on for dear life. It appears that sadly, Jeff Zgonina's long and underrated career is finally over. The defensive tackle tried to come back for an 18th NFL season, but it looks like it won't happen. Thus, we can now officially close the Jim Colletto Era of Purdue football.
In the mean time, here are the Purdue guys to watch in the NFL this season:
Cliff Avril - Detroit Lions - Cliff is becoming a solid player for the Lions with 41 tackles and three forced fumbles a year ago. They've got him playing defensive end as opposed to linebacker, so his move was successful for his senior season.
Drew Brees - New Orleans Saints - Brees really needs to step up and do something about his flailing NFL career at this point. I'm kidding, of course. We all know where Drew is at right now. He holds the QB Belt with pride. His next step is a regular season MVP award.
Ray Edwards - Minnesota Vikings - I guess we can claim Ray Edwards. I was never a fan of his while he was at Purdue because of his attitude. Still, last year was the best of his career. He had 51 tackles and 8.5 sacks. He also provides proof that there are other players on the Vikings roster not named Favre. Who knew?
Nick Hardwick - San Diego Chargers - I love how far Hardwick has come. He's a former walk-on that has become a Pro Bowl center. As bad as our line was this past Saturday I'd like to see if Hardwick has any eligibility left.
Landon Johnson - Detroit Lions - Landon always was a little underrated behind Niko and Gilbert Gardner during his time at career, but he has become a solid NFL player. He had 20 tackles in a reserve role last season for the Panthers, but he has now moved to the Lions.
Dustin Keller - New York Jets - It's not DK's fault that his coach is a blowhard whose ego is writing checks his team can't cash. DK had a solid playoff season with a touchdown in all three games. I expect big things from him this year.
Brandon King - Indianapolis Colts - Excellent news for Mr. King. He made the 53 man roster for the Colts! This is excellent news for the undrafted cornerback. I'm very interested in seeing how he contributes this year. Good, work, Brandon.
Niko Koutouvides - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Niko is one of my all-time favorite Boilers. He was a member of that great 2003 defense that I long for. Despite 11 tackles in a reserve role last year he is back for another seasons in Tampa.
Matt Light - New England Patriots - While Brees is a likely Hall of Famer in this group, I think Light has a chance as well. He has multiple Pro Bowls and three Super Bowl rings. He has protected the blind side for one of the best QB's ever. He nearly earned a fourth ring as a member of an undefeated team. He won't be first ballot, but he has a shot.
Alex Magee - Kansas City Chiefs - Alex had a quiet rookie season for the Chiefs with eight tackles and two sacks last year. He only had one start, but he might play a bigger role this year.
Mike Neal - Green Bay Packers - Mike was our only drafted player from this past season. The Packers are pretty high on him as a defensive tackle, however.
Rob Ninkovich - New England Patriots - Injuries have slowed down Rob's career, but he has kept at it. The Patriots used him for 23 tackles last year as he was finally able to have a full season. It looks like his third team is a charm.
Uche Nwaneri - Jacksonville Jaguars - Uche has earned a starting guard spot for the Jags. All four season ticket holders in Jacksonville are rejoicing.
Kyle Orton - Denver Broncos - It's about damn time that Kyle got a decent contract. I'm enjoying the fact that all the commentators that have trashed Orton for years finally realized that he had a good eyar last season. Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn are behind him, so he has to stay sharp before Denver goes with one of them.
Mike Otto - Tennessee Titans - I love that Mike is still hanging around the NFL. This is a kid I covered playing football and basketball as a junior in high school. He even signed the tailgate tent of my dad's business partner. Keep it up, Big Mike!
Curtis Painter - Indianapolis Colts - Say what you will about Painter, but he's still kicking around in the NFL. I'm not going to judge him. He'll make more this year holding Peyton's clipboard than I will in the next 10 years. It's still nice to have three quarterbacks in the league at the same time. Hopefully Joey Elliott can make it in from the CFL.
Shaun Phillips - San Diego Chargers - Shaun had an amazing seven forced fumbles last year with seven sacks and 59 tackles. He'll once again be one of the top members of the Chargers' defense.
Bernard Pollard - Houston Texans - Pollard is another one of my least favorite Boilers because of his attitude. I just thought he was a dick. Still, I'll claim him. He had 102 tackles last year for a decent Texans defense.
Anthony Spencer - Dallas Cowboys - It's too bad I don't like the Cowboys, because Spencer is one of the few players on that team worthy of the hype. He had 67 tackles and six sacks in starting all 16 games last year. He added two forced fumbles and an interception.
Craig Terrill - Seattle Seahawks - Craig is hanging on for another season as a reserve in Seattle. His numbers were down last year, but as bad as the Seahawks are supposed to be, he'll probably get a lot of chances to play.