For every Deone Bucannon, Cooper Kupp and Mike Iupati, there’s a surplus of Washington State, Eastern Washington, Idaho alums fighting for permanence in the National Football League.
More than a dozen cracked their respective franchise’s recently trimmed 53-man rosters. Others were either placed on practice squads or received pink slips.
Former Idaho and Asotin High offensive lineman Jesse Davis and former Eastern Washington receiver Kendrick Bourne – a pair of self-made, undrafted players – have made the most of their opportunities.
Davis is listed as a starting right guard for the Miami Dolphins. Bourne is among the 49ers’ stable of wide receivers following a rookie season season in which he hauled in 257 yards on 16 catches in eight games.
“It made me feel good about my play last season, and obviously I still have a lot of room to grow,” said Davis after he was named the team’s full-time starter. “I finally have a foot in the door somewhere where I can project myself into my career.”
Deone Bucannon, LB, Arizona Cardinals
The former first-round draft pick enters his fifth season in the league and resumes his duties as the Cardinals’ starting weakside linebacker.
Luke Falk, QB, Miami Dolphins
The Pac-12’s all-time leading passer was drafted by the Titans in the sixth round last spring but was cut last week. He’s now on the Dolphins’ practice squad.
Cole Madison, OL, Green Bay Packers
The Packers’ rookie right tackle still hasn’t reported to training camp for undisclosed reasons after being drafted in the fifth round. He’s still listed on the team’s roster.
Frankie Luvu, LB, New York Jets
Luvu, who went undrafted in May, has been placed on the Jets’ practice squad.
Shalom Luani, Safety, Seattle Seahawks
After appearing in 16 games for the Raiders as a rookie last season, the Raiders traded Luani to the Seahawks this summer for a 2019 seventh-round draft pick. He’s listed as the No. 2 strong safety on the Seahawks’ depth chart.
Daniel Ekuale, DL, Cleveland Browns
Undrafted in May, the rookie has carved out a spot on the Browns’ practice squad.
Hercules Mata’afa, DL, Minnesota Vikings
Mata’afa tore his ACL during Minnesota’s OTA camp in June and will spend the entirety of his rookie season on injured reserve.
Joe Dahl, OL, Detroit Lions
The University High grad was a Swiss Army knife on the Lions’ injury-riddled offensive line last season. He’s the No. 2 left guard on Detroit’s unofficial depth chart.
River Cracraft, WR, Denver Broncos
Cracraft went undrafted in 2017 after a season-ending knee injury his senior year in Pullman. He played well enough this preseason to earn a spot on the Broncos’ practice squad.
Destiny Vaeao, DL, Philadelphia Eagles
Vaeao earned a Super Bowl ring last season and is listed as second-string defensive tackle on the Eagles’ Week 1 depth chart.
Former Cougars without teams: Vince Mayle, Xavier Cooper, Marquess Wilson, Kache Palacio, John Fullington, Dom Willians.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Kupp was one of the top rookie wide receivers in the league in 2017 and is expected to build off his 869 receiving yards and five touchdowns this fall.
Samson Ebukam, LB, Los Angeles Rams
Kupp isn’t the only EWU alum starting for the Rams. Ebukam, a third-round draft pick last in 2017, was named the Rams’ starting outside linebacker this summer.
Kendrick Bourne, WR, San Francisco 49ers
For the second straight year, Bourne fought tooth-and-nail among a group of veteran wide receivers to earn a spot on the 49ers’ 53-man roster. The Portland native totaled 257 yards on 16 catches in a eight-game stretch as an undrafted rookie last season.
Taiwan Jones, RB, Buffalo Bills
A running back on EWU’s 2010 national championship team, Jones has found longevity in the league mostly for his versatility on special teams.
Aaron Neary, center, Cleveland Browns
Neary, who started in Week 16 for the Rams last season, was cut by the organization last week. He was swiftly picked on waivers by the Cleveland Browns, and is listed as the team’s No. 2 center.
Former Eagles without teams: Albert Havili, Jake Rodgers.
Mike Iupati, OL, Arizona Cardinals
The four-time Pro Bowl left guard enters is his ninth season in the league.
Jesse Davis, OL, Miami Dolphins
After cups of coffee with Seattle and the New York Jets, Davis earned his first career start with the Dolphins last season before being named a full-time starter at right guard this year.
Benson Mayowa, DE, Arizona Cardinals
Mayowa, on his fourth NFL team, is listed as a second-string defensive end on the Cardinals’ 53-man roster. He was undrafted in 2013.
Korey Toomer, LB, Green Bay Packers
A fifth-round draft pick in 2012, the Packers recently signed Toomer after he was cut by the 49ers. He’s listed as third-string right outside linebacker on the Packers’ depth chart.
Elijhaa Penny, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Josh James, OL: The former Coeur d’Alene High and Carroll College standout was cut by the Bills last week, his third NFL team since going undrafted in 2015.
Bishop Sankey, RB: The ex-Gonzaga Prep and Washington star was released by the Minnesota Vikings a year after sustaining a serious knee injury.
Bryan Braman, DE: Braman,a Shadle Park graduate, won a Super Bowl with the Eagles last year as a special teams enforcer but isn’t listed on an NFL roster.
Will Davis, DB: A third-round pick in 2013, the Central Valley and Utah State grad was cut by the 49ers after training camp in 2017 and hasn’t been on a roster since.