Nearly two months have passed since the end of the 2016 NFL Draft — enough time for WSU’s draft pick, Joe Dahl, and a handful of undrafted free agents who signed to show their teams what they can do.
Let’s check in on each of them.
Joe Dahl, Detroit Lions
As a fifth round pick, it was expected that Dahl would get every chance to impress on a team that desperately needs offensive line help. In the Lions’ recently completed minicamp, Dahl primarily worked with the second team, seeing time at both guard and tackle. No surprise there, as most draft experts projected Dahl to move inside after starting at left tackle for two-plus years at WSU, but the Lions will want to see what he can do at both spots.
“I really have no idea what I’ll end up playing. It’s their job to decide, I’ll just be happy to do whatever they want me to do,’’ Dahl told the Oakland Press.
Destiny Vaeao, Philadelphia Eagles
As an undrafted free agent, Vaeao said he picked the Eagles because he thought they’d be a good fit for his style — the defensive coordinator employs an aggressive scheme for his defense, in which the linemen are encouraged to penetrate and disrupt. Of course, that’s Vaeao’s specialty.
So far, so good, according to CSN Philly.
While Aziz Shittu (6-2, 288), from Stanford, was stuck back at school thanks to the NCAA’s graduation rule, the other two worked out for the Eagles all spring. And Destiny Vaeao (6-4, 299) from Washington State and Connor Wujciak (6-2, 291) from Boston College impressed.
“Defensively, there are some defensive linemen in there that have really shown flashes of giving us depth at that position,” head coach Doug Pederson said after OTAs wrapped up.
“And you know, it's something that you've got to continue to monitor — especially once you get into training camp when the reps begin to increase for the three units — that these guys are getting the time spent on the practice field, No. 1, so that we can evaluate them properly as a staff.”
OK, so Pederson didn’t hand out a roster spot just yet, but the head coach last week said he does start to formulate the 53-man roster in his head during these spring practices. And it looks like Vaeao and Wujciak might have crossed his mind.
In fact, if the season started today, CSN Philly is projecting Vaeao to make the roster as the fourth tackle.
Ivan McLennan, Atlanta Falcons
McLennan is alternately mentioned as a linebacker and defensive end in various reports, and with former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn leading the Falcons, it just doesn’t matter — Carroll is famous for moving pieces around on defense, and McLennan’s experience at Buck and Rush linebacker at WSU means he could be make the roster as a flexible piece.
McLennan was playing defensive end in the nickel package at OTAs, and defensive coordinator Richard Smith said McLennan can rush the passer. But in this ESPN.com piece, the Falcons’ LB coach references McLennan playing Sam — the position Bruce Irvin played for the Seahawks the last few years, if that gives you any frame of reference. And that certainly didn’t stop Irvin from lining up at end on third down.
He’s impressed Quinn:
McLennan also seems to be having a lot of fun:
Dom Williams, San Diego Chargers
There’s actually very little out there on Williams so far. ESPN.com’s Eric Williams notes that Dom “made a couple nice plays during rookie minicamp,” and mentioned him as one of three or four UDFAs who have a good chance to make the team.
Kache Palacio, BC Lions
Palacio had a cup of coffee in rookie camp with the Los Angeles Rams, but he was not signed and has since moved north of the border. He’s in training camp with the Lions, after being noticed by defensive line coach Robin Ross.
“I talked to him a little bit and we just connected,” Palacio told BCLions.com. “He kind of preaches the same ideas as the Rams coaches. Now it’s about picking up the CFL game.”