The 2016 NFL draft has come and gone in Chicago, and 3 Temple football alumni were drafted in the first 7 rounds. A total of 6 ex-players, however, saw their dreams to pursue a professional football career begin to come true, as 3 players plan to sign unrestricted free agent deals with NFL teams.
DB Tavon Young- Baltimore Ravens (4th round, 104th overall)
DL Matt Ioannidis- Washington Redskins (5th round, 152nd overall)
LB Tyler Matakevich- Pittsburgh Steelers (7th round, 246 overall)
C Kyle Friend- New York Jets (unrestricted free agent)
WR Robby Anderson- New York Jets (unrestricted free agent)
WR Brandon Shippen- Miami Dolphins (unrestricted free agent)
Tavon Young was the first one off the board for the Owls, and leading up to draft day it up was of no surprise. The secondary’s veteran will return to his home state of Maryland to play for the Baltimore Ravens. Young was the top ranked Owl according to ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mel Kiper’s NFL draft projections. Despite a statistical decline following a 4-interception, 153-yard return yard junior campaign in 2014- Young was a four year starter in the Temple secondary and his presence was vital during the Owl’s 10-win 2015 season.
Matt Ioannidis was the second Owl selected in the draft, just over 40 picks after teammate Tavon Young. Ioannidis was a need-pick for the Redskins, as ESPN listed “DL” as one of Washington’s need positions since the first-round of the draft. Ioannidis was a four-year contributor for Temple, appearing in 43 total games, in which he racked up 115 tackles (29 for loss). In addition to a 1st-team all conference selection for the AAC in 2015, Ioannidis was chosen as a 3rd-team All-American.
It was a surprise to most people that Tyler Matakevich fell so low in the draft- and he was just picks away from going undrafted. Tyler Matakevich is arguably the most awarded Temple player in program history, considering his 2015 Bronco Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik awards as the nation’s top defensive player. In addition to the AAC defensive player of the year, all three awards for Matakevich were firsts for Temple. Matakevich did a lot of record-breaking in 2015, as he became the program’s all-time tackles leader in the Boca Raton bowl game. Matakevich had 138 tackles in 2015 to go along with 5 interception- both career highs.
Center Kyle Friend bursted onto the recruiting scene during Temple’s pro-day, as he bench-pressed 225 lbs 41 times- 7 more than any other player in the draft. Friend established himself as a leader on the offensive line in 2015, and helped a rather inexperienced offensive line hold up for 10 wins on the year.
Robby Anderson also received a huge boost in popularity in the eye’s of NFL scouts at Temple’s pro-day in March. Anderson ran a 4.34 40-yard dash which put him in elite company in terms of 2016 NFL prospects- the fastest time on the year was 4.31. Anderson bounced back from an absent junior season and paced the team with 70 receptions, 939 receiving yards and 7 receiving touchdowns.
Brandon Shippen came as a big surprise, signing a deal with the Miami Dolphins. Shippen was one of 11 additions by the Miami Dolphins via free agency and was chosen to address the team’s receiver void. Shippen prided himself in doing the little things in his career such as participating in special teams, and being a leader. Shippen caught a touchdown in a narrow loss to #9 Notre Dame, and set a program record for receiving yards in a bowl game with 70 in Boca Raton.