Where the Utes Ended up in the NFL Draft

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Where the Utes Ended up in the NFL Draft

University of Utah senior defensive back Marquise Blair (13) celebrated after an incompletion (play however was called back) during an NCAA Football game vs. Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA in 2018. Chronicle archives.

University of Utah senior defensive back Marquise Blair (13) celebrated after an incompletion (play however was called back) during an NCAA Football game vs. Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA in 2018. Chronicle archives.

Curtis Lin

University of Utah senior defensive back Marquise Blair (13) celebrated after an incompletion (play however was called back) during an NCAA Football game vs. Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA in 2018. Chronicle archives.

Curtis Lin

Curtis Lin

University of Utah senior defensive back Marquise Blair (13) celebrated after an incompletion (play however was called back) during an NCAA Football game vs. Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA in 2018. Chronicle archives.

By Sammy Mora and Brayden Ramsay

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The 2019 National Football League (NFL) draft has come and gone. It was a successful year for the University of Utah Football team as nine total players were selected by NFL teams via the draft or as free agents.

The first Ute off the board was Marquise Blair who was taken 47th overall by the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle took Blair with their second overall pick in the second round. Blair fits the Seahawks “Legion of Boom” mantra well with his violent hits and nose for the football.

With the 88th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected their second Utah football player, Cody Barton. Barton has the potential to get the starting job and play alongside former Utah State Aggie, Bobby Wagner. Wagner and Barton would play similar to what we saw this year with Barton teaming up with Chase Hansen. Barton’s sideline to sideline play, paired with Wagner’s physicality at the line, could prove to be dangerous for opposing offenses.

Mitch Wishnowsky was the next Ute off the board, taken by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round, the first special teams selection in the draft. The Aussie punter will lead San Francisco’s Special Teams in the 2019 season with his booming kicks and fake punt threat.

Matt Gay was taken in the fifth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, another early special teams pick. The Bucs hope Gay fares better than their last special teams draft pick, Roberto Aguayo. A promising 2016 draft pick, Aguayo, like Gay was a Lou Groza Award and Vlade Award winner, led his conference in field goal conversions and was drafted higher than normal for a kicker. Hopefully the parallels end there, as Aguayo floundered toward the end of his rookie season and was eventually released. Look for Gay to start right away and lead Tampa Bay’s special teams this season. His monster leg will help extend the Bucs’ potential scoring position to 60-yards-out of the uprights.

The final Ute taken in the 2019 draft was Jackson Barton. The oldest Barton brother was taken in the seventh round by the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are looking to have Jackson protect quarterback Andrew Luck as well as create room for running back Marlon Mack.

All of the Utes taken in the draft have been given new numbers by their respective teams. Blair will wear no.27, while Cody Barton will rep the no.57 for the Seahawks. Gay will be no.9 in Tampa Bay. San Francisco has a new no.6 with Wishnowsky and Jackson Barton will be no.71 for the Colts.

Four Utes were picked up as free agents after the draft concluded. The Seattle Seahawks gave Utah fans more reason to join the 12th man after snagging Offensive Lineman Lo Falemaka in a free agent deal. Falemaka will help the Seahawks protect newly re-signed quarterback Russell Wilson joining Barton and Blair as rookies on the team.

Offensive lineman Jordan Agasiva participated in minicamps with the 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars, signing a deal with the latter announced by the Jags on May 12.

The New Orleans Saints got a steal of a free agent pick-up with linebacker Chase Hansen. Hansen was projected to get picked up in the NFL Draft on many pre-draft boards. Unfortunately, a back injury that sidelined Hansen posed too much of a risk for any of the 32 NFL teams to take him in the first seven rounds. Hansen was released by the Saints on May 10.

Rounding out the free agent picks from the University of Utah, Corrion Ballard was picked up by the Carolina Panthers. Ballard will have to fight for a starting position with the Panthers but could join former Ute Jared Norris as a hard-hitting defensive player for Carolina. Carolina’s defense is led by linebacker Luke Kuechly and is a big reason why the Panthers challenge for the NFC South title each season.

The nine selected this year will join 19 former Utes who are already making their mark on the NFL. After this draft, Utes are on 16 of the 32 teams in the league with multiple teams having two or more former Utah players.

With the 2019 draft in the rearview mirror, it is time to look forward to the 2020 draft. Utah has the potential for having upward of six players drafted and a few more being taking in free agency.

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