After offensive lineman Rashawn Slater, cornerback Greg Newsome II and defensive end Earnest Brown IV were drafted, seven other players from the Northwest signed with teams as undrafted free agents.
Linebacker Paddy Fisher and quarterback Peyton Ramsey have joined the Carolina Panthers, safety JR Pace and tight end John Raine are headed for the Atlanta Falcons, and linebacker Blake Gallagher is bound for the Baltimore Ravens. Wide receiver Riley Lees has signed with the Cincinnati Bengals and offensive lineman Gunnar Vogel stays close with the Chicago Bears.
Currently only one NU player who participated in the 2021 NFL Draft remainder unsigned: wide receiver Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman. The Minnesota native has had a career season in 2020, with 41 catches for 508 yards and five touchdowns.
Fisher, who is heading towards Charlotte, is one of the best linebackers to ever don the purple and white. Fisher left Evanston as the active NCAA leader in career tackles (404) and forced fumbles (11). He was also named the 2020 Big Ten Fitzgerald-Butkus Linebacker of the Year.after making 86 tackles and 4.5 tackles against a loss, forcing a fumble, recovering a fumble and notching an interception.
Fisher also became the first Cats player since current Cleveland Browns linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. to finish with 100 tackles in consecutive seasons. After notching 113 eliminations in his first season, Fisher made 116 tackles – the eighth-highest in the conference – in his second campaign in 2018. He earned a nod on the first team All-Big Ten from the conference coaches for his performance.
After helping lead the Cats to a 7-2 record and a 2021 Citrus Bowl victory, Fisher was awarded the 2021 Lott IMPACT (Integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity) Trophy.
Fisher joins a group of linebackers in Carolina headlining former first-round picks Haason Reddick – who had 12.5 sacks in 2020 – and Shaq Thompson, who just finished two consecutive seasons of 100 or more tackles. The Panthers haven’t drafted a linebacker, which means Fisher will face players like Chris Orr, Clay Johnston and Daniel Bituli for a spot on the roster.
Ramsey, who also joins the Panthers, transferred to the NU after four seasons at Indiana and brought stability to a quarterback room that had one of the nation’s worst scoring offenses in 2019. Ramsey got a selection. consensus for the All-Big Ten Third The team after throwing for 1,733 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
His best game for the Cats came in his last. In the citrus bowl, Ramsey completed 24 of 35 passes for 291 yards and four total touchdowns to earn the game’s Most Valuable Player award. In nine games, he threw 200 yards or more six times and led NU to his first unbeaten home record since 1995.
Ramsey joins Carolina Signalers Sam Darnold, Will Grier, Tommy Stevens and PJ Walker. Darnold, the No.3 overall pick in 2018, is the alleged Panthers starter after Carolina traded him in March.
Pace – a native of College Park, Georgia – and Raine head to NFC rival South of the Panthers.
One of the leaders of the cats of the 2020 season, Pace racked up 41 tackles and made an interception to earn an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. He ended his career at Evanston with 169 tackles, eight interceptions and 23 pass deflections.
Three defensive backs left the Falcons after the 2020 campaign, prompting Atlanta to select three secondary players – including UCF safety Richie Grant – and sign three undrafted free agents who play a defensive back, as Pace.
Raine also joins a crowded position room in Atlanta. The Falcons have selected Florida tight winger Kyle Pitts as fourth overall and have former first-round pick Hayden Hurst under contract for the 2021 season.
In his only season with NU, Raine caught 24 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns. His best performances came against Maryland in the regular season (5 catches for 53 yards) and Auburn in the Citrus Bowl (six catches for 76 yards and one touchdown).
Gallagher heads to Baltimore after racking up 332 tackles, five interceptions and two fumbles recovered for the Cats. His best performance came in 2018 when he made 127 tackles – the most in the conference. Gallagher followed by winning the team’s second-most tackles with 88 in 2019.
The Massachusetts native joins a strong group of Ravens linebackers that already include talented players like Patrick Queen – a 2020 first-round pick who finished last season with the second-most rookie tackles (66).
Lees will join Gallagher in AFC North after ending his career in the Northwest with 111 catches for 1,093 yards and nine touchdowns. In addition to playing receiver, the Libertyville native served as a defenseman and quarterback, as well as a punt and punt returner.
In 2019, Lees had a remarkable start to the season – he averaged 22 yards per return and ran for a career-high 50 yards return. Lees did not return a kickoff in 2020, but always remained a punt returner. In his four punts-catching seasons, Lees averaged 7.1 yards per return on 53 returns.
With the Bengals, Lees’ special teams skills can help him stand out in the middle of a large, crowded reception hall.
Meanwhile, Vogel will begin his NFL career within an hour of Evanston with the Bears. After redshirting his first season, then playing seven games over the next two years, Vogel started nine contests in 2019. He went on to start every game of the 2020 season and helped the Wildcats on average over 360 yards per game.
In Chicago, Vogel will join former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who was drafted by the Bears 11th overall.
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Twitter: @ dschott328
– Football: defensive end Earnest Brown IV drafted 174th by Los Angeles Rams
– Football: Rashawn Slater selected 13th by Los Angeles Chargers, Greg Newsome II selected 26th by Cleveland Browns in 2021 NFL Draft
– Northwestern football exit survey 2020