Shortly after the NFL draft's conclusion, NFL teams began signing undrafted players as free agents, including a few Washington State Cougars.
While Destiny Vaeao, Dom Williams and Ivan McLennan would sure have preferred to have heard their names called during the draft, by going undrafted they were free to sign with the team whose situation gives them the best chances to make the final rosters. All three Cougars ended up in pretty favorable situations in that regard.
Rush linebacker McLennan is headed to Atlanta, where the Falcons were the NFL's worst team at sacking opposing quarterbacks last season. The Falcons did add some speed at linebacker during the draft, their biggest need, with the selections of Deion Jones and De'Vondre Neal. However, both are projected to play inside for Atlanta. Given the Falcon's need for pass-rushing help, McLennan should have a real opportunity to make the 53-man roster or practice squad.
Thank you @AtlantaFalcons for the amazing opportunity to play for yall organization 🙏— Ivan McLennan (@Forever_Leisure) April 30, 2016
Receiver Williams likewise heads into a good situation, signing with the San Diego Chargers, who did not draft a wide receiver this year despite losing Malcolm Floyd to retirement. There is a void in San Diego for a big-play receiver, and that's exactly what Williams proved to be at WSU.
Dom Williams signs with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent. https://t.co/FeYG8SLZYI— Jacob Thorpe (@JacobThorpeSR) April 30, 2016
Likewise, Vaeao fills a position of need at defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are moving to a 4-3 defense under Jim Schwartz. While the Eagles have solid personnel in Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, they badly need depth on the defensive line. Defensive end Alex McCalister was the only defensive line addition in the draft for Philadelphia. McCalister was a seventh round pick, so if Vaeao can prove himself in camp, he too has a fighting chance to make an NFL team next year.
Another former WSU player who will get his NFL shot is former rush linebacker Kache Palacio.
Kache Palacio (LB/FB, Washington State) has just agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Rams.— Brett Tessler (@TesslerSports) April 30, 2016
As noted in the above tweet, Palacio projects to play either linebacker or fullback at the next level. The Rams did pick a linebacker – Kentucky's Josh Forrest in the sixth round – but at 6-foot-3, 250-pounds, he would appear to fill a different role than Palacio. Linebacker was not really a need for the Rams entering the draft, so that could be a tough position for Palacio to crack.
But the Rams did let fullback Zack Laskey go, so maybe the former Cougar can carve out a role by switching to offense. That said, the Rams aren't really big on fullbacks in general under Jeff Fisher, so either way Palacio is going to have to really impress to make the squad.