Arguably the two most important players for the Mean Green football team, offensive lineman Cyril Lemon and linebacker Derek Akunne, will get a shot in the NFL after going undrafted this weekend. Lemon has signed with the New Orleans Saints while Akunne signed with the Atlanta Falcons. The team's Twitter account confirmed the news.
About a month ago, I wrote about how Lemon and Akunne were the two most likely players to end up on an NFL roster, and that came to fruition today. With a good reason, too.
Akunne led the Mean Green in tackles last year and was a stalwart on an otherwise mediocre defense. He filled the shoes of Zach Orr nicely, who went undrafted last year and ended up making the Baltimore Ravens. The plan is for Akunne to do the same.
The linebacker has a great chance to make a Falcons squad that already has some talent in place. There really is no better landing spot for Akunne than Atlanta, where is head coach will be former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn helped turn late round draft picks for Seattle into stars, and there is a good chance he can develop Akunne into a productive NFL player.
Then there's Lemon, who was a four-year starter for the Mean Green on the offensive line. Lemon is undersized at 6-foot-3, but clearly has the potential to succeed based on his time at North Texas. Dan McCarney's teams were always run-first and smash mouth. That was what won them the Heart of Dallas Bowl in the 2013-2014 season. Lemon was at the heart of that.
Drew Brees isn't getting any younger for the Saints, and with re-signing Mark Ingram, New Orleans could be looking to run the ball a little more. Lemon likely won't be starter, and it remains to be seen if he'll even make the team. But, adding someone like him never hurts.
North Texas still hasn't had a player selected in the draft since 2004, but Lemon and Akunne finding potential NFL homes, along with Orr from last year, is a big plus. If things keep moving in that direction, we might see someone selected from North Texas in the not too distant future.