Editor’s Note: Coming off of a draft year where Haason Reddick went from walk-on to the NFL’s 13th overall draft pick, another group of Owls are ready to make their NFL dreams a reality. For a Temple class with the most wins in school history (33), 4-year starter Sean Chandler was the only NFL combine invite of the group. Temple Update’s 2018 football contributors did their research to figure out where each former Owl could see themselves come next football season.
Sean Chandler – (Projected Rounds 5-6)
Larry O’Connor (@Larry_OConnor1) – Chandler will be the first Owl taken in this year’s draft. Although he’s listed as a safety, he also has the ability to play corner, where he spent his first two seasons in the Cherry & White. His versatility should boost his stock in the draft. 9 career interceptions and 13.5 career tackles for loss prove he’s a play maker, and will be on an NFL roster come September.
Brian Steinmetz (@Brian__Stein) – Chandler is ranked the 10th best free safety on CBS Sports. “Champ” as his teammates call him, has been a starter since his freshman year in 2014 and earned a single-digit jersey number the following season, one of the team’s highest honors. He ranks 14th all-time in tackles at Temple with 265. His senior season he was third on the team with 79.
Adam Miller (@amillersports) – Chandler seems like an absolute lock in this year’s draft. NFL Draft Scout currently projects him as a fifth-rounder for this year’s draft and the 11th best safety in the draft. Chandler is a rangy defensive back who’s size (6’0, 195 lbs) may even allow him to play cornerback at the next level. Chandler is the only player to receive an invite to the NFL combine.
Donovan Hugel (@donohugel) – Just one year after Temple had three players drafted into the NFL, it looks like they will at least have one player drafted in the form of safety Sean Chandler. Chandler, who this year had 67 tackles, five passes defended, two interceptions and a forced fumble, is projected to be a fifth round pick, the same round that Hairston was picked in. He is durable position-wise as well as he can play cornerback which helps in zone schemes.
Sam Neumann (@SamNeu_) – Sean Chandler is without a doubt the most likely Owl to be taken in this year’s NFL Draft. Chandler has a fifth round projected draft slot according to CBS Sports as of now, but that could change after a solid showing at the combine. Team’s will be enamored with the versatility of Chandler as he can play his natural college position of safety in the pros, or he can play a little bit of cornerback as well.
Mike Jones – (Projected Rounds 7-FA)
Adam- Once arriving at Temple University, Mike Jones was asked by Marc Narducci why he didn’t declare for the NFL draft. His response: “I definitely see I wasn’t ready for the [NFL] this year, and there is a lot of stuff I can work on, and that is what I am getting done now.” Jones offers versatility to a team as he can play as both an outside and nickel cornerback. Last season, ESPN’s Todd McShay said that Jones stands out to him as the best pick among late-round defensive backs.
Brian- Jones, a redshirt senior, transferred to Temple this past season after graduating from North Carolina Central University to help increase his draft stock competing at a Football Bowl Subdivision. In his lone season at Temple, he had a total of 44 tackles and one interception. In 2014, he recorded a career high five interceptions during the season.
Donovan- After Temple’s loss to Houston this past season, coach Geoff Collins said that redshirt-senior cornerback Mike Jones, “…is a big-time college football player, and he’s going to be big-time moving forward at the next level.” That was the reasoning behind Jones coming to Temple after he totaled 114 tackles and 11 interceptions at North Carolina Central University. Like Chandler, Jones can play two positions, outside and nickel cornerback, which will help to improve his overall draft stock.
Sam- Mike Jones arrived at Temple University as a graduate transfer, and immediately showed the NCAA how dynamic of a returner he can be. His big play ability with the ball in his hands on special teams will certainly put him on an NFL roster. Jones is not just a return-specialist either, he has a good chance of being a productive starter in the nickel as well, and could be a potential late round steal.
Keith Kirkwood – (Projected Rounds 6-FA)
Larry- The University of Hawaii transfer has one uncontested positive going into the draft: size and speed combination. The (almost) 6-3 wide out compares with another Philadelphia wide receiver, Alshon Jeffery. Or keeping it within Temple, he also compares to current New York Jets receiver Robby Anderson with the lightning 40-time for a guy his size. This season Kirkwood caught 45 passes for 671 yards and 7 touchdowns- quickly turning into the teams no.1 wide out as the year progressed.
Brian- Back in December, Kirkwood signed with NFL agents Michael and Jason Katz to represent him in the upcoming draft. He was the first player to receive a single-digit number under new HC Geoff Collins. He transferred to Temple in 2014 following a season at the University of Hawaii. Kirkwood’s postseason stats speak for themselves, he has a combined 275 yards in the last 3 postseason games.
Adam- Kirkwood has been one of Temple’s more consistent receivers through the years. Over his career he has accumulated 103 receptions, 1,638 yards and 16 touchdowns. Rotoworld.com praised Kirkwood on his play this year and believes that due to his measurables, he has a chance of being a late pick. “Because of his size, he could see some looks as a late-round prospect in the NFL Draft.”
Donovan- After transferring from the University of Hawaii in 2013, wide receiver Keith Kirkwood has been a stand-out player for the Owls. The 6’3”, 220 pounder averaged 14.91 yards per reception, good for second on the team, and had seven receiving touchdowns which tied for first with Adonis Jennings, another wide receiver. While he doesn’t have the best NFL-level speed, Kirkwood’s size and frame should be enough for a team to take a chance on him.
Adonis Jennings – (Projected Rounds 7-FA)
Sam- Adonis Jennings has a rare combination of size and speed and those traits are surely desirable out of a wide receiver. After one semester at Pittsburgh, Jennings came back home and set his mark on Broad Street as a marquee part of the Owls offense. Jennings showed teams his worth during the the East-West Shrine game, showing off the kind of athlete he is. He is a very good route runner with good awareness and great hands.
Brian- Jennings helped boost his draft stock by participating in the NFLPA Bowl and making some athletic catches and being labeled as a skilled route runner. His 6-foot-3 frame certainly will help him get selected. This season he had 4 games with over 75 yards receiving, including one game with 127 yards.
Adam- Adonis Jennings may have been the most physically gifted wide receiver on the Owls team last year. Formerly a 4-star Pittsburgh commit, Jennings showed flashes of his ability throughout his time with the Owls. Jennings is a big play receiver who lead the team in yard per catch this past season at 17.7. This was on display at the NFLPA Bowl where he was one of the game’s top performers hauling in a 61 yard pass. During the game he showcased his great hands and route running abilities, combine that with his 6’3 frame and he seems to be a likely draft prospect.
Larry- Jennings started slow in 2017, but quickly established his role with the team as a guy who can go up and get it. His coming out party was against Navy, when he posted 127 yards and 2 TD’s. His skill set should translate well at the next level as a deep threat, and a guy who can high point the ball and bring it down.
Sleepers: (Projected Free Agency Signings)
Larry- Although there is a good chance Finch doesn’t get drafted, I find it hard to believe he won’t be on a roster come September. Not only for his pass rushing ability (13.5 career), but also for his special teams ability. Finch has become the king of blocking punts (5 career) and will be a strong addition on special teams for whoever decides to sign him.
Donovan- It’s a toss-up whether Finch actually gets drafted or not, yet he should be picked up as an undrafted free agent at least. Like a few other players on this list, he’s a versatile player who came to Temple as a 218-lb inside linebacker, but is graduating as a 255-lb defensive end. He will be best used as a special teams player if on a roster, as he has a habit for blocking punts and is a strong rusher.
Sam- Sharif Finch is most likely going to be an undrafted free agent, but he has the opportunity to show NFL teams what he’s made of. He has versiality that teams are looking for, he can rush the passer from both edges, and is a terrific special teams player.
Larry- Sharga won’t be drafted in April, but should get a look at the NFL level. In a league that is constantly changing, the fullback position is losing its importance. Sharga is a versatile player, who played both fullback, defense, and special teams in 2017. His versatility should land him a minicamp invite, and a shot at a 53 man spot.
Adam- Unfortunately for Sharga, he’s playing a position that is a dying breed. More and more teams are abandoning the fullback offense in favor of a single-back set. However, there still are a select few teams they use fullbacks, so he could find his way on a roster. On his career, Sharga has carried the ball 39 times for a total of 150 yards and 1 touchdown.
Donovan- Sharga is a throwback type of player who is very effective in short yardage situations and can blow people up at the line of scrimmage. He is versatile though, as he contributed on special teams and the defensive sides of the ball as well. Sharga should get a shot at cracking a 53-man roster, but it will most likely be as an undrafted free agent.
Larry- Foster had a relatively stable 2017, as a dependable corner for Temple. His stats don’t jump off the page, but he was consistent on the back end. It will be interesting to see if he makes an NFL roster, but don’t rule out a move to the CFL, as former Owls Avery Williams, and Avery Ellis did a year ago.
Brian- Artrel Foster was the last single-digit number given out this season by HC Geoff Collins. He is a reliable defensive back that doesn’t have all the pizazz you might see elsewhere but he gets the job done when it means the most. Being drafted might be a stretch, but he could potentially get a few looks from some teams looking for depth at the secondary level.
Adam – Foster had a decent season for the Owls this year. Often mixed in and out with Linwood Crump, Foster was solid in his appearances. During the offseason, Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia reported that Foster was among the standout players. With great size at 6’0, 190 lbs Foster could possibly sign with a team as a free agent.
Sam- Artel Foster was a nice rotational corner and was consistent in his play. He may have a tough time making a 53-man roster, but with his ideal size at the position, teams could bring him in to fight for a job in training camp.