The 2023 NFL Draft has concluded and for the first time since 2009, not a single Washington player was selected. That is in part because a number of Huskies who would’ve been drafted chose to return with their extra year of eligibility and make a run at a Pac-12 championship and more. Still, it’s a disappointment to see.
However multiple Husky players will still get a chance to try to earn their spot on an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent. Below is the full list that we know about of players signing new deals.
OL Jaxson Kirkland- Cincinnati Bengals
Jaxson Kirkland is signing with the Cincinnati Bengals and will have a chance to compete for a spot along the offensive line which has been a source of trouble of them for several years. The Bengals didn’t draft linemen with any of their 8 picks and so there should be a chance for a UDFA to make an impact.
Former Washington G Jaxson Kirkland is signing with the #Bengals, per source.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 29, 2023
Kirkland was a 5-year starter for the Huskies thanks to the extra season of eligibility coming out of the shortened 2020 season (which was only 4 games for Washington). He redshirted after coming in as a 3-star recruit in the class of 2017 but then started at right guard for 2 seasons. Going into 2020 the coaching staff kicked him outside to left tackle where he earned the first of his 3 straight 1st-team all-Pac-12 awards.
In 2021 Kirkland again started at left tackle but Washington had a very disappointing season thanks to the struggles of the offense and the offensive line. Kirkland still though was named all-conference but he suffered an ankle injury late in the season and declared for the draft. Days after the deadline to withdraw Kirkland received news that his injury would keep him out for the entire pre-draft process. Due to that he instead decided to come back to school and received a waiver at the cost of the first game.
Kirkland missed that game plus 2 more due to injury and due to the offensive line coalescing with Troy Fautanu starting the year at left tackle, Kirkland shifted inside to left guard. He continued to perform well once back in the lineup as Washington’s line was one of the best in the country in pass protection.
LB Cam Bright- Seattle Seahawks
According to co-Defensive Coordinator and linebackers Coach William Inge on Twitter, Husky linebacker Cam Bright has been signed by the Seattle Seahawks:
We got one with the #12thMan #Seahawks. Congrats to @_cam38. Go #Represent #WeRollin pic.twitter.com/GSmj3Hr0Zk— Coach William Inge (@WilliamInge1) April 29, 2023
Bright came to UW by way of Pittsburgh, where he played 4 seasons, totaling 177 tackles and 9.5 sacks, as well as in those 4 seasons. The new staff brought him in with the hopes that his veteran experience would translate to leadership on the field, as well as a wealth of tackles in the box score. Ultimately, Bright became a sort of second option at linebacker, ceding that leadership role to Alphonzo Tuputala. Still, he posted a solid stat line, with 60 tackles, and 2.5 sacks. Seattle is getting a physical linebacker who packs a punch despite being comparatively small for the position. We wish Bright good luck with the Seahawks!
OL Corey Luciano- San Francisco 49ers
Starting Husky center Corey Luciano is signing with the 49ers per...Corey Luciano. The 49ers didn’t make a pick until the 3rd round due to the Trey Lance and Christian McCaffrey trades and then didn’t select an offensive lineman. Currently San Francisco has Jake Brendel as their starting center who was a former UDFA himself.
Back to the Bay . Can’t wait to get to work! pic.twitter.com/HWEFcwtALg— Corey Luciano (@cluciano74) April 30, 2023
Luciano came to the Huskies as a highly touted JUCO transfer and the Huskies came out on top going head-to-head with USC for his commitment. He saw some early playing time by converting to tight end but struggled when asked to do more than be a 6th offensive lineman. He moved back to the OL after one season and ended up somewhat surprisingly winning the starting center job last season under the new coaching staff.
That decision by the coaches turned out to be a good one as Luciano thrived in his role as the starting center. He was probably the least heralded of Washington’s fantastic line last year but played a key role. Hopefully, he’ll get a chance to compete for a roster spot as the backup center with San Francisco.
Alex Cook- New York Giants
Former starting safety for the Huskies Alex Cook has agreed to a deal with the New York Giants. They also took a safety with their pick in the 7th round but there’s room to potentially compete for a roster spot in what wasn’t an exceptional secondary last season.
DB Alex Cook has signed with the New York Giants, per source. @DraftDiamonds @Orangebsports— Alec Degen (@AlecDegen) April 29, 2023
Cook started out his career as a wide receiver but after a few season not cracking the starting lineup agreed to switch to safety. He seemed to find his stride there quickly winning a starting job and manning the spot for 2 seasons. Amidst all of the injuries in Washington’s secondary last year Cook was the only who stayed healthy the entire season and was the leader of that group. He was named honorable mention all-conference this past year.
DE Jeremiah Martin- Cleveland Browns
One of the more productive pass rushers in the Pac-12 is headed to Cleveland as Jeremiah Martin has inked a deal with the Browns as a UDFA. Cleveland didn’t pick until the 3rd round due to the Deshaun Watson trade and did a use a 4th rounder on the edge spot plus have one of the better pass rushers in the NFL with Myles Garrett so winning a roster spot may be tough for Martin.
Congrats to Jeremiah Martin (@IAmJM_) who is heading to the Cleveland Browns (@Browns)#NFL#NFLDraft #UndraftedFreeAgent pic.twitter.com/nYNXIbQ7YJ— Capital Sports Advisors (@CapSportsAdv) April 29, 2023
The former 4-star recruit originally committed to Texas A&M over Washington and others and did see a decent amount of playing time. However, the Aggies signed several star pass rushers that jumped over Martin in the rotation and he opted to transfer to the Huskies. Coming in he initially won a backup job and was solid particularly in run support. But this past season in his final year of eligibility he had one of the best seasons in the country and wracked up 10.5 sacks and 1st team all-conference honors.
CB Jordan Perryman- Las Vegas Raiders
Starting Washington cornerback Jordan Perryman is headed to Sin City after signing a UDFA deal with the Raiders. Las Vegas took a 4th round corner but play in the same division as Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert and so need all the help at corner they can get at all times.
Former UW cornerback Jordan Perryman is headed to the Las Vegas Raiders, according to his agent.— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) April 30, 2023
Perryman was a star at UC Davis and was named an FCS All-American before deciding to enter the transfer portal and finish his eligibility at Washington. He earned rave reviews in fall camp and appeared to be a steal for the Huskies. In UW’s season opener against Kent State however he suffered an injury which caused him to miss a few games. Upon his return Perryman never looked fully healthy and largely struggled when he was in the lineup. Hopefully with an offseason of training though Perryman is finally healthy and will be able to show out in training camp.
RB Wayne Taulapapa- New York Jets
Former UW running back Wayne Taulapapa has received a rookie minicamp invite from the New York Jets, he tells me.— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) April 30, 2023
Taulapapa spent 3 years splitting time in the Virginia backfield before entering the transfer portal and winning the starting job for Washington. He finished last year with 884 rushing yards and 11 TDs on a career high 6.4 yards per carry. He ended the season particularly strong with 3 consecutive games of 100+ rushing yards plus a TD on 15 or fewer carries (7.7+ YPC). The Jets have Breece Hall at running back who was a candidate for offensive rookie of the year last season before tearing his ACL but hopefully Wayne can find a way to at least make the practice squad with his balance skillset.