Ex-Arizona Wildcats in the NFL


Of all the active ex-Arizona Wildcats in the NFL, Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs has been the most productive. The 32-year-old has made over 1,000 tackles in his career and has been selected to the Pro Bowl seven times. (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL season begins today and in honor of its return, let’s take a look at the former Arizona Wildcats who are on NFL rosters:

Lance Briggs, LB, Chicago Bears
The seven-time Pro Bowl selection is about to begin his 11th season in the NFL, all coming with the Bears. In his career, Briggs has recorded 1,068 tackles, 12.0 sacks, 15 interceptions and five defensive touchdowns. The 32-year-old is likely past his prime, but will be looked at as the Bears’ defensive leader due to Brian Urlacher‘s retirement.

Eben Britton, OL, Chicago Bears
Britton was drafted 39th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2009 NFL Draft, where he spent four years before signing with the Bears this past offseason. He has played 37 games (30 starts) in his career, seeing time at both right tackle and left guard.

Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona Cardinals
One of the most prolific defensive backs in Arizona history, Cason has yet to find the same success in the NFL. After being drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft, he spent five seasons with the San Diego Chargers before signing with the Cardinals this past offseason. In his career, Cason has intercepted 12 passes, broken up 55 throws and recorded 308 tackles.

Juron Criner, WR, Oakland Raiders
Despite a lot of praise from the Raiders’ coaching staff, Criner was unable to find the field much in his first season in the NFL, catching only 16 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown. The Raiders don’t have a lot of depth at receiver, so it might end up being a pretty productive season for the 23-year-old.

Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
The 24-year-old quarterback saw a lot of time as a rookie due to injuries, starting six games and playing in seven. He showed some promise, throwing for 1,699 yards and six touchdowns, while running for another score. New head coach Chip Kelly gave Foles a chance to win the starting quarterback job this offseason, but he ultimately lost out to Michael Vick. However, due to Vick’s injury history, it would be shocking if Foles remained on the bench the entire season.

Nick Folk, K, New York Jets
The 28-year-old has played six seasons in the NFL, three with the Dallas Cowboys and three with the New York Jets. He has made 77.9 percent (134-of-172) of his field goals over that span and has not missed a PAT in 242 attempts. He has hit 13-of-24 field goals from 50-plus yards, with a long of 56 yards. Folk was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2007.

Robert Golden, DB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Golden enters his second season as a reserve defensive back and special teams player. After being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Golden played in 15 games as a rookie, recording eight tackles.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
“Gronk” is probably the most recognizable ex-Wildcat in the NFL, largely in part due to his gaudy numbers and off-the-field antics. In three seasons, the two-time Pro Bowl selection has played in 43 games (38 starts), catching 187 passes for 2,663 yards and 38 touchdowns. He has battled injuries, however, and will miss at least the beginning of this season after undergoing arm and back surgeries in the offseason.

Earl Mitchell, DT, Houston Texans
Mitchell was drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans, and spent the last three seasons as a backup defensive tackle. As he enters his fourth season, he will likely be the starter after the departure of Shaun Cody. In his career, Mitchell has played in 47 games (three starts), recording 86 tackles, 2.0 sacks and one forced fumble.

Brooks Reed, LB, Houston Texans
Reed has been a solid contributor at linebacker for the Texans since he was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. In two seasons, Reed has played in 28 games (27 starts), recording 27 tackles and 2.5 sacks. In four career playoff games, he has 19 tackles, 5.0 sacks and one forced fumble.

Practice Squad
Fendi Onobun, TE, Chicago Bears
The former University of Arizona basketball player, Onobun transferred to Houston to play one season of football after exhausting his basketball eligibility. He was eventually drafted in the sixth round by the St. Louis Rams in the 2010 NFL Draft and has caught two passes in four career games. Onobun has been on the active rosters or practice squads of the Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills and now, the Bears.

Matt Scott, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
One year in Rich Rodriguez‘ spread offense put Scott on the radar as a potential NFL quarterback. While some people had him projected as a third round pick, Scott went undrafted, likely due to his history of concussions. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by Jacksonville, and after failing to make the squad in the preseason, was added to their practice squad.

Recent Cuts: Colin Baxter, C, San Diego Chargers; Dan Buckner, WR, Arizona Cardinals; David Douglas, WR, Tampa Bay; Ricky Elmore, LB, Washington Redskins; Chris Gronkowski, FB, San Diego Chargers; Spencer Larsen, FB, Tampa Bay; Kyle Quinn, C, Arizona Cardinals; D’Aundre Reed, DE, Minnesota Vikings; Mike Thomas, WR, Arizona Cardinals; Trevin Wade, CB, Cleveland