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Buffaloes in the NFL: What roles will they play in 2018?

Running through all the former Colorado players now in the NFL.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL season officially begins Thursday night when the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. There are 12 former Colorado Buffaloes in the NFL, each of whom we will give a refresher as to where they’re playing and what role they have.

Mason Crosby, K, Green Bay Packers

Crosby has been on the Packers since they drafted him in 2007. He’s made countless clutch field goals in his NFL career, just as he did in his magnificent career with the Buffs. He had somewhat of a down year in 2017, so hopefully he can bounce back to being one of the premier kickers in the league.

Nate Solder, LT, New York Giants

Since being drafted in 2011, Solder is finally free from the New England Patriots. The former All-American has won two Super Bowl rings protecting Tom Brady (he didn’t do very well when Von Miller destroyed the Pats in 2016, but we’re OK with one bad game). Solder left New England as a free agent this summer when he signed a 4-year, $62M deal with them. He hopes to bolster what was a woeful line as the Giants attempt an offensive overhaul.

Jimmy Smith, CB, Baltimore Ravens

Smith emerged as one of the best corners in the league last season, but he tore his Achilles tendon in December, then that week was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, and now was recently suspended four games for violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Hopefully Smith will be able to grow from all this and once again be an elite player.

David Bakhtiari, LT, Green Bay Packers

Bakhtiari might be the best offensive tackle in the NFL, and thereby perhaps the best offensive lineman in the world. He was a fourth round pick to the Packers in 2013 and has spent his career fortifying Aaron Rodger’s blind side. Bakhtiari was second-team All-Pro in 2016, first-team All-Pro in 2017, and he was given a 97-overall rating in Madden 19.

Paul Richardson, WR, Washington

Richardson comes into 2018 with the highest expectations of his career. After playing three seasons with the Buffs as their singular dynamic player, and after a four-year stint with the Seahawks as a maestro of the spectacular catch, he has moved on to Washington with a larger role. With Alex Smith at quarterback, Richardson will be a featured receiver whose ability as a deep ball playmaker could be critical for that offense.

Daniel Munyer, C, Arizona Cardinals

If you remember Munyer from the Embree Buffs, he’s been in the NFL since 2015 as a backup interior lineman. He appeared in games for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2015, went to Arizona in 2017 and is there now as a depth piece.

Ken Crawley, CB, New Orleans Saints

Crawley went from a frustrating player at CU to undrafted to replacement-level NFL player to high-level NFL starter. Everything finally clicked for Crawley in 2017 as he emerged as a solid cornerback and was crtical to their secondary being one of the most improved units in the NFL. Opposite blooming megastar Marshon Lattimore, Crawley will see plenty of action in 2018, but he will shut that down if he keeps up his development.

Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Dallas Cowboys

The Ringer’s kn picked Awuzie as a breakout player to watch in 2018:

The Cowboys could have a star cornerback in the making. A 2017 second-round pick, Awuzie followed up on a strong second half last year and locked down opposing receivers in coverage during the preseason. He’s provided much-needed help in the secondary while flashing some Odell Beckham–esque playmaking skills:

With Awuzie playing opposite Byron Jones, who’s flashed since making the switch from safety to corner, Dallas suddenly has what could be a solid outside corner duo.

Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, San Francisco 49ers

While Awuzie was turning heads in Dallas towards the end of last season, Witherspoon emerged as the 49ers’ best cornberback. He might not be the best corner on the team now that Ricahrd Sherman has signed, but if the long-armed Witherspoon has learning a thing or two more about press defense from the future Hall of Famer, he should be a high-level coverage corner in due time.

Tedric Thompson, S, Seattle Seahawks

After impressing with his playmaking ability all summer, Thompson stood to have a larger role in his second season with the Hawks, but now that Earl Thomas has ended his holdout and will likely not be traded, he will likely be a backup safety still. But Thomas is injury-prone and this is final season, so we should see Thompson in a starting role either this year or next.

Isaiah Oliver, CB, Atlanta Falcons

Of all the defensive backs the Buffaloes have sent to the NFL — and that number will only grow — Oliver was the highest rated as a pro prospect. He was a first round talent, but fell to the Falcons at 60th overall. But though he dropped, he landed in a great place as the Falcons have a reputation for developing freakishly athletic defenders. Oliver will likely play a limited role this season until he is more polished.

Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos

As you are well aware, Phillip Lindsay is making the impossible the reality. Lindsay signed with his hometown Broncos as an undrafted free agent and spent the summer and preseason drawing praise for his leadership and versatility. Lindsay is listed as Denver’s third running back, but he should see plenty of action should Royce Freeman or Devontae Booker miss any time.