Last weekend several NFL teams held their rookie minicamp. For the organizations, it was a chance for the coaching staff to get a better look at their prized draft picks, as well as evaluate undrafted free agents and give tryouts to others. For the former Utes who entered the NFL draft, it was a chance to make a good first impression for their respective new teams.
While many former Utes gave favorable initial impressions, former Utah quarterback Travis Wilson had an embarrassing moment in his tryout with the Cincinnati Bengals. During a passing drill, Wilson fired a pass directly into the back of the head of Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, sending his sunglasses flying off his head. Guenther had his back turned to the line of scrimmage in order to observe the defense more closely. Despite Guenther having a good sense of humor about the whole incident, it was probably not the impression Wilson was hoping to make. He left the Bengals minicamp without a contract.
On the flip side, former Utah linebacker Gionni Paul was also attending the Bengals minicamp on a tryout basis. Paul was not drafted or signed to an undrafted free agent contract immediately after the draft, many attributing it to his 5.10 second 40 yard dash, slowest for any linebacker at the combine. He was invited to the Bengals minicamp to tryout along with Wilson however. Paul made a good impression on the Cincinnati coaches, impressing with his on field play and earning a contract with the team on Sunday.
Elsewhere around the league, linebacker Jared Norris had a good camp with the Carolina Panthers, earning praise from the coaching staff for his intelligence and instincts. The director of scouting for the Panthers noted that Norris fits the mold the Panthers are looking for at weakside linebacker. Jason Fanaika also had a great minicamp with the San Francisco 49ers, earning a three year deal with the team along with eleven other undrafted free agents.
Tom Hackett began his competition for punter with the New York Jets. Hackett and fellow Australian Lachlan Edwards are in what appears to be a wide open competition for the job. Hackett noted the differences to the New York media, telling them he is more of a directional punter than Edwards, who is bigger with more of a traditional boom the ball downfield punting style. Who gets the job may come down which style the coaching staff prefers.
Devontae Booker, the only Utah player to be drafted, did not participate in the Denver Broncos minicamp on Friday, attending his graduation in Salt Lake City instead. Booker was on the field on Saturday and Sunday however and made a favorable impression in individual drills despite still recovering from his torn meniscus. He is expected to gain full practice clearance in June.
Other Utah rookies Tevin Carter (Washington) and Jason Whittingham (Oakland) will take part in their teams minicamps next weekend May 13-15.