It’s now been five years since any UNLV player has been taken in the NFL Draft.
Devante Davis was thought to have a chance to break the streak this year, but after not hearing his name called last weekend, one of the best receivers in program history had to take another route to the league. Davis signed on as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles, and he wasn’t the only Rebel to latch on as a UDFA.
Offensive lineman Brett Boyko was signed by the Eagles as well, and Kenneth Penny (Cleveland Browns) and Josh Shirley Oakland Raiders) also found landing spots in the NFL.
Davis and Boyko were considered UNLV’s top prospects heading into the draft, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll stick in the NFL for long. Let’s take a further look at the two former Rebels and their future in Philadelphia.
Chip Kelly’s handling of receivers for the short time he’s been an NFL coach has been questionable. He’s let Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin leave in consecutive offseasons, but that could turn out to be a positive for Davis’s quest to make the team. The Eagles have a need for depth at the position–they took USC receiver Nelson Agholor with the 20th overall pick and also signed veteran wideout Miles Austin in the offseason. With Jordan Matthews and Riley Cooper being the only holdovers from last season, it appears Davis may have a chance to compete for the role of fourth or fifth receiver.
The Eagles under Kelly appear to be looking for tall receivers who possess downfield speed and can run after the catch; Davis matches that physical skill set. If Davis is fully recovered from the wrist injury that cost him six games last year, he has a real opportunity to make the team.
Boyko’s tenure in the NFL may be shortlived, and it’s not because he’s a bad lineman. He was an All-Conference player for a reason.
The native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the Canadian Football League draft, which takes place on May 12. The choice between being an undrafted free agent in the NFL and a top pick in the CFL draft closer to home could be night and day.
If Boyko decides not to be a star in his native country and stays in the city of Brotherly Love, he’ll have a difficult road to winning a roster spot. There are a total of 12 guards and tackles on the Eagles roster–five guards and seven tackles. Boyko has experience at both spots, and he only allowed one sack last year for an offensive line that was otherwise a weak spot.
Boyko played nearly his entire college career on the left side, which is arguably the Eagles’ strongest area with 11-year veteran Evan Mathis on the inside at left guard and all-pro Jason Peters protecting the quarterback’s blindside at left tackle. If he stays in the NFL, Boyko might have a chance to be a backup to one of those two.
If Boyko survives the offseason, he’ll need to have a sterling training camp in order to have a chance at sticking with the Eagles. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he opts for Canada and is the next star in the CFL.