The 2019 NFL season is rapidly coming to a close and with the Super Bowl not even two weeks away, we have a chance to take a look back and see how the campaign went for everyone. Here, though, we are really only concerned with those who once donned the Olive and Blue.
Eight Tulane alum that made it through the entire season but few did without making pit stops in different cities. Some didn’t make it to year’s end without finding themselves stuck on the free agent market but a couple made it as far as the NFC Championship.
Missed the Playoffs
Roderic Teamer - DB : LA Chargers
There’s no question about it, of Tulane’s incoming rookies it was Roderic Teamer who had the best pro season in 2019. Teamer signed on as an undrafted free agent with the Chargers last summer but stepped up and played like a bonafide draft pick. He saw game action in seven of the LA’s 16 contests and his success came early on.
He authored his first NFL tackle against the Texans in Week 3 got his first career interception off of Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill in Week 7. Perhaps his most dominant performance, though, came a week later against the Bears. In Chicago, Teamer recorded eight tackles and a sack that helped the Chargers escape with a narrow win.
Despite his success, however, it was very much a tale-of-two-seasons for the rookie. Midway through the year he suffered an injury and missed significant time. In fact, from weeks 9 to 16, Teamer only got in on five snaps after playing every one of them from weeks 3 to 8.
Teamer ended his rookie season with 40 total tackles, 1.5 sacks and the lone interception. Despite his efforts, the Chargers finished with a 5-11 record.
Parry Nickerson - DB: Jacksonville
Once mainstay in the Jets secondary, Nickerson was a bit of a journeyman in 2019. During the preseason he was traded to the Seahawks but eventually wound up in Jacksonville. It was with the Jags that Nickerson saw all of his game time this year.
In Week 14 Nickerson saw his first action of the season, albeit only on special teams. He would not see defensive playing time until the final game of the season when the Jaguars faced off against the Colts. Nickerson got in on three total tackles in the season finale.
Buy and large, his sophomore season was much quieter than his rookie year with the Jets in which he played in all 16 games and notched 21 tackles.
Charles Jones - TE: Jacksonville
Nickerson was not the only Green Wave alum to wind up in Jacksonville. Former teammate Charles Jones signed on with the Jags last summer as an undrafted free agent but, as is typical for many NFL rookies, saw little on-field time in 2019.
The former Tulane tight end played in his first pro game November 24 when Jacksonville faced Tennessee. Jones played in only two offensive snaps in that contest and only saw periodic playing time in Weeks 13 and 14. He did not record his first catch until the Jags’ season finale against Indianapolis. He caught one pass for five yards.
The Jaguars finished the season 6-10.
Dontrell Hilliard - RB: Cleveland
Dontrell Hilliard had the most productive season of any Green Wave alum. As a second-year running back with the Browns, Hilliard played in 14 games and did everything from running to pass catching to special teams returns. With guys like Nick Chubb on Cleveland’s roster, it was no surprise that Hilliard saw a reduced role on offense but that didn’t stop him from making impact plays when needed.
In Week 1 against Tennessee, Hilliard scored his first NFL touchdown when he pushed his way in from four yards out. He would score another just three weeks later against Baltimore in what was undoubtedly the Browns’ biggest upset win of the season.
In Week 6 against the Seahawks, Hilliard had his most productive special teams day of the year. On just two kick returns, he racked up 102 yards. Facing the mighty New England Patriots two weeks later, Hilliard caught four passes for 24 yards and rushed for another 10.
He really was Cleveland’s “everything guy” in 2019 and his stats showed it. Hilliard finished the year with 92 receiving yards, 49 rushing yards, and 421 kick return yards as the Browns came out with a 6-10 record.
Ryan Griffin - QB: Tampa Bay
2019 gave quarterback Ryan Griffin another chance to see the gridiron after he had not seen regular season playing time since 2014 with New Orleans. This time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Griffin got in on two games after serving as Jameis Winston’s backup for much of the season.
Against Indianapolis in week 14, Griffin came in and completed two passes for 18 yards. The following week he saw snaps against the Lions but did not attempt a pass. His four rushes in that game yielded -1 yard. Tampa Bay did, however, win both games that Griffin played in.
On the season, though, the Bucs finished 7-9.
Tanzel Smart - DL: LA Rams
Tanzel Smart came onto the NFL scene in 2017 and has remained with Los Angeles through his first three seasons as a pro. It took Smart until Week 2 this year to get in on his first tackle and his biggest game this season came a week later against Cleveland where he finished with three total tackles. He would see just under 20% of LA’s defensive snaps.
The defending NFC Champion Rams had a rough go of it as they finished at 9-7, just missing the postseason. Smart had seven tackles to his name.
Made the Playoffs
John Leglue - OL: Green Bay
The third and final Tulane alum to complete his first season in the NFL this year was rookie offensive lineman John Leglue. Leglue did not see any game time in 2019 but did land a spot on the Packers 53-man final roster by season’s end.
Leglue made his way through two other teams this year before finally finding a home with Green Bay. Last summer he signed on with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent but, after things didn’t work out in Denver, Leglue was given another opportunity with the New Orleans Saints practice squad.
Ryan Grant - WR: Green Bay
Joining Leglue with Green Bay was receiver Ryan Grant. His journey to the Packers, too, was one that took him across the NFL map. Grant, who was once a household name with teams like Washington and Indianapolis, began his 2019 season in Oakland. It was with the Raiders that he would see his only game action this year.
In Week 1 on Monday night, Grant caught three passes for 16 yards. In week 2 he was targeted five times but only caught one pass for negative yardage. Midway through the season, Grant was released from Oakland and was later given an opportunity in Green Bay. He saw no playing time with the Packers but remained on the roster nonetheless.
Leglue and Grant both enjoyed a trip to this year’s NFC Championship game where the Packers saw their successful 14-win season come to an end.
Tulane’s only draftee in the 2019 NFL Draft... Donnie Lewis Jr. (CB)... did not make the final roster cut in Cleveland. He was cut after the preseason and is currently a free agent.
Kicker Cairo Santos began his season with the Tennessee Titans and played in five games. He connected on all 12 of his extra point attempts but went a mere 4-for-9 on his field goal attempts. He was released by the Titans in October and is currently a free agent.
We know sometimes it’s easier to just visualize these stats so we’ve provided the following table...