NFL Draft weekend can be a very different experience for players looking to extend their playing career. Some wait only a couple hours to hear their name called. Others wait a day or two. For some, their name is never called, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for them. A handful of Blue Raiders fell into the latter category this year.
Heading into the draft there was speculation that Blue Raiders Jeremy Cutrer and I’Tavius Mathers may get drafted, but that never came to fruition. However, both those players did land on the same team as undrafted free agents.
The Jacksonville Jaguars inked the two Blue Raiders after the draft ended Saturday, April 29, and each looks to have his work cut out for him to make the 53-man roster.
Cutrer came to Middle Tennessee State University in 2015 as a junior college transfer and made an immediate impact. As a junior, Cutrer drew consistent praise from former teammate and current Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard. As a senior, Cutrer was named first-team All-Conference USA. The Jaguars currently have eight other cornerbacks on their roster, including seventh-round pick Jalen Myrick.
A native of Murfreesboro, Mathers spent his first three collegiate seasons at Ole Miss, where he was under-utilized, never receiving more than 105 touches in a season. As a Blue Raider, Mathers shattered seemingly every single-season rushing milestone in MTSU football history and received numerous post-season honors. He will be competing against six other running backs to make the 53-man roster, including 2017 number four pick Leonard Fournette and veterans T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory.
Chris Hale and Steven Rhodes each received invites to participate in mini-camps.
Hale was a mainstay on the defensive line from 2013 to 2016, amassing 76 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. He will hope to parlay his invite into a roster spot with the Packers.
Steven Rhodes will join Byard at the Titans mini-camp this year. Rhodes registered 110 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks in his career, with the bulk of his production coming over the last two seasons. More important than his production has been his presence in the locker room, as he has garnered a reputation as the quintessential team leader.