DeKALB — Five former NIU football players will be a part of opening week rosters in the NFL, including a rookie offensive linemen, a pair of wide receivers on rival teams, and a pair of cornerbacks.
The newest Huskie to join the NFL is offensive lineman Max Scharping, with the Houston Texans.
Scharping, selected by the Texans in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, had his first career preseason game in his hometown of Green Bay with dozens of family and friends in attendance.
Scharping currently sits behind Zach Fulton on the unofficial depth chart for the right guard position, according to the Houston Texans website.
Another Wisconsin native who was drafted out of NIU is cornerback Jimmie Ward. The former All-American enters his sixth season with the San Francisco 49ers, after breaking his forearm last season in November.
Former Huskies wide receiver Kenny Golladay returns for his third season with the Detroit Lions with high expectations. Among the 21 players with 1,000 receiving yards last season, Golladay did it with the fewest total receptions, at just 70.
The Lions picked up another former Huskie this offseason in cornerback Rashaan Melvin. Melvin, who turns 30 in October, is coming off a one-year stint with the Oakland Raiders where he finished with 52 tackles and an interception.
Detroit’s divisional rivals in Minnesota have their own former Huskie in wide receiver Chad Beebe. Beebe was called to the main roster last year following an injury to wide receiver Stephon Diggs, where he recorded four receptions in three games.
Wide receiver Christian Blake didn’t make the Atlanta Falcons’ final roster, but is staying with the organization as a practice squad player. Blake enters his second season with the organization, and has yet to see playing time.
Rookie linebacker Sutton Smith didn’t make the final cut for the Pittsburgh Steelers after being selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. According to Houston Chronicle reporter Aaron Wilson, Smith was one of seven players to workout with the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday.
Wide receiver Tommylee Lewis was cut by the Detroit Lions and is now a free agent. Lewis was the Saints receiver on the end of a controversial pass interference no-call in the NFC Championship game that led to the NFL implementing challenge replays on such plays. Lewis played for the NIU from 2011 to 2015.