This type of article used to be a lot easier to write, back when there weren’t so many Colorado Buffaloes playing in the league. Now there are 18 players to monitor, research and write about, so that’s probably why there are no ‘Sooners in the NFL’ articles.
David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers
Bakhtiari was back to his usual self as the best left tackle in the NFL. He was named as a Pro Bowl starter and will likely be named All-Pro. Even more importantly for a blind side blocker, his quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the favorite to win MVP. Unfortunately, Bakhtiari tore his ACL last week, forcing him out of the playoffs and possibly some of next season.
Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens
The second best Buff in the NFL and the second best Jimmy Smith in NFL history, the Ravens cornerback is still competing at a high level. This has been a disappointing season for Baltimore, but they still have the best secondary in the league. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters take away outside receivers, while Smith has become an excellent slot corner. The only downside — which has been the one thing holding him back his entire career — is that he’s battling injuries right now and might miss their playoff game against the Titans.
Chidobe Awuzie, Dallas Cowboys
It was something of a lost season for the Cowboys, as they faced serious injuries up and down their roster. Awuzie was one of those casualties as he missed 8 games with a hamstring injury. He was good when he played, but he’s already looking towards a better 2021 season.
Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos
Despite having a Pro Bowl running back on a dirt cheap contract, the Broncos signed free agent Melvin Gordon to an $8 million salary. Always overrated, Gordon disappointed with his play and enraged fans with his fumble problems. Lindsay, who has not fumbled since his sophomore season at CU, was moved into a backup role. His elite efficiency took a dip, as he battled toe, knee and concussion injuries all year. He now enters free agency, hoping the Broncos will keep him in town.
Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars
The bad news is that the Jags were horrendous on offense with some of the worst QB play in the NFL. The good news is that Trevor Lawrence will be throwing to Viska next season. Shenault still had a solid rookie with 600 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns. He somehow managed to lead the team with 58 catches despite having the third most targets; his catch rate (73.4%) dwarfed teammates D.J. Chark (57%) and Keelan Cole (62.5%).
Mason Crosby, Packers
The longest tenured Buff is still kicking at a high level, well into his 14th year in the league. The Packers’ all-time leading scorer was a perfect 16 for 16 on field goals this year, though he hit just 59 of 63 extra points. Green Bay doesn’t settle for many field goals, but Crosby is as clutch as they come during the playoffs.
Isaiah Oliver, Atlanta Falcons
The talented Isaiah Oliver hasn’t really developed as the Falcons thought he might. It looks like Atlanta would prefer him as a slot cornerback, where he can make an impact in the run game. His future might be in doubt, but another team would surely take a chance on him.
Ahkello Witherspoon, San Francisco 49ers
Witherspoon has had an up-and-down career after being a third round selection in 2017. He’s always sticky in coverage, but has been picked on in big games. He was better this season, when healthy, filling in for an injured Richard Sherman. It’s unclear what his future will be in San Francisco, as the 49ers will presumably return Jason Verrett, Emmanuel Moseley and Sherman.
Tedric Thompson, Cleveland Browns
Thompson was the safety who replaced future Hall of Famer Earl Thomas, and while he’s made some outstanding plays, he’s been too inconsistent as a full-time starter. His time in Kansas City didn’t go that great, as they cut him after 8 games. He’s now on the Browns active playoff roster but has yet to appear for them.
Davion Taylor, Philadelphia Eagles
When Davion Taylor takes the field, you can see how much potential he has. During his rookie season — just his fifth year of organized football — he’s been a special teams ace. He injured his knee in Week 13, but it’s nothing serious.
Arlington Hambright, Chicago Bears
The 2019 Ham Champion, Arlington Hambright was a 7th round pick by the Chicago Bears. He’s a rookie playing guard for the first time, so his struggles should be expected, if anything. His development will be something to monitor, as he could become a well-rounded player on a needy Chicago line.
Juwann Winfree, Packers
Juwann never broke through for the Broncos, so it’s good that the Packers gave him another shot at the NFL. Mostly a practice squad player, Winfree has been active for a few games this season and has yet to make an NFL catch. Still, he might be in the best place to develop as a big-bodied receiver.
Kabion Ento, Packers
Winfree and Ento were always underrated and underappreciated on the Buffs. Ento, however, has been converted into a cornerback. The Packers loved his development during his rookie season and promoted him to their debut 53-man roster. Unfortunately, he broke his foot just before the season and has spent the year recovering.
Steven Montez, Washington Football Team
Undrafted out of Colorado, Steven Montez is on Washington’s playoff roster as a backup quarterback behind Alex Smith and Taylor Heinicke. Smith is always a question mark with his injury history, so there’s a non-zero chance Montez takes the field this week.
Ken Crawley, New Orleans Saints
Crawley has bounced around some after his breakout 2017 season, but he’s back home on the Saints’ playoff roster. He’s mostly a depth piece at this point in his career.
Tony Brown, Washington
Perpetually underrated at CU, Tony Brown is currently playing on the Washington practice squad. He could see the field during WFT’s playoff run, particularly if Montez ends up playing.
Daniel Munyer, Tennessee Titans
Munyer is still hanging around, playing on the Tennessee practice squad in his sixth season in the NFL.
Nate Solder, New York Giants
Solder opted out of the 2020 season, due to illness concerns in his family. Solder is a cancer survivor and his infant son has been battling cancer for years now.
Josh Tupou, Cincinnati Bengals
Topou opted out as well. The middle of that vaunted 2016 CU defense is holding down the line in Cincinnati, where he’s grown in a solid starting nose tackle.