With the NFL season set to kickoff in just over a week, let’s take a look at where former UVA football players will be playing this season.
Olamide Zaccheaus, Wide Receiver, Atlanta Falcons,
Zaccheaus is entering his third season in the NFL after signing with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He appeared in 11 games for the Falcons last season, including two starts. Zaccheaus had 20 receptions for 274 yards and one touchdown before being placed on injured reserve in December of 2020. This season, Zaccheaus appears to be positioned to take the third wide receiver spot for Atlanta after the departure of Julio Jones to Tennessee in the offseason.
Maurice Canady, Cornerback, Dallas Cowboys,
Canady spent the first three seasons of his NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens, but was placed on injured reserve early in each of those three seasons. After spending his fourth season in 2019 with the New York Jets, Canady signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2020, before opting out of the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canady made the Cowboys initial 53-man roster after an impressive training camp in August, recording multiple interceptions, including this pick of Matthew Stafford during a joint practice with the LA Rams on August 7th.
Brent Urban, Defensive End, Dallas Cowboys
Urban was the 26th Canadian to ever be drafted into the NFL in 2014, when he was selected in the 4th round by the Baltimore Ravens. He spent the first four years of his professional career in Baltimore before one-year stints with the Titans and Bears, where he made eight starts at defensive end during the 2020 season. After signing a one-year deal with Dallas in March, Urban appears to be the expected starter at defensive tackle for the Cowboys heading into the 2021 season.
Juan Thornhill, Safety, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs selected Thornhill in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft and Thornhill had an immediate impact, starting all sixteen games for Kansas City and recording three interceptions the following season. Unfortunately, Thornhill’s impressive rookie season ended prematurely after he tore his ACL in the final game of the regular season, causing him to miss the entire playoff run that ended with the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl. Thornhill was never completely healthy during the 2020 season and faced significant physical and mental obstacles even coming into the 2021 NFL preseason. But it seems Thornhill is now 100% and ready to continue his bright young career. There was no bigger sign of Thornhill’s condition than when he made a diving interception during the Chiefs’ preseason game against the Cardinals on August 20th.
Oday Aboushi, Offensive Lineman, Los Angeles Chargers
Aboushi enters his eighth NFL season with his seventh different team. The Jets drafted Aboushi in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft and Aboushi spent the first two seasons of his career in New York, starting ten games for the Jets in 2014. Aboushi played for the Texans, Seahawks, Raiders (practice squad), Cardinals, Lions, and now the Chargers. Oboushi appears to be the expected starter at left guard for the Chargers this season.
Bryce Perkins, Quarterback, Los Angeles Rams
Perkins spent his rookie season in 2020 on the Rams’ practice squad. In years past, the Rams have carried only two quarterbacks on their roster. However, after a few impressive performances during the NFL preseason in August, Rams head coach Sean McVay said that Perkins was making that quarterback decision more difficult, before ultimately deciding to add Perkins to the 53-man roster as the Rams’ third-string quarterback behind Matthew Stafford and John Wolford.
Bryce Hall, Cornerback, New York Jets
After suffering a serious ankle injury in his senior season at UVA, which derailed his potential to be picked in the first round, Hall was selected by the Jets in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL draft. Hall saw limited time in 2020 as he was still trying to get healthy, but he appears ready to take a major leap in his second year in the NFL. The Jets did not make any substantial moves in the offseason at the cornerback position, so it seems that the organization is going to depend heavily on a fully-healthy Bryce Hall to start as the team’s #1 cornerback.
Morgan Moses, Offensive Lineman, New York Jets
Moses spent his first seven seasons in Washington, starting all 16 games in each of the last six seasons, mostly at right tackle. He signed a one-year, $3.6 million contract to join the Jets in July and will likely be the starting right tackle, protecting Zach Wilson in his rookie season.
Anthony Harris, Safety, Philadelphia Eagles
Harris enters his sixth season in the NFL and his first playing for a team other than the Minnesota Vikings, where he spent his first five seasons. Harris appeared in 81 games for the Vikings, including 47 starts at both the free safety and strong safety positions, and was tied for the NFL lead in interceptions in 2019 with six. The Philadelphia Eagles signed Harris to a one-year, $5 million contract in March. Harris is expected to start at strong safety for the Eagles, alongside free safety and fellow UVA alum, Rodney McLeod.
Rodney McLeod, Safety, Philadelphia Eagles
McLeod enters his ninth season in the NFL and his sixth season with the Eagles. McLeod signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and spent his first four seasons in St. Louis, starting at safety from 2013-2015. He was one of the top safeties on the free agent market in 2016 and signed a five-year, $35 million deal to join the Eagles. In 2018, McLeod started in his first playoff games and the Eagles advanced to Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots. McLeod recorded six tackles and had a pass breakup and the Eagles defeated the Patriots, 41-33, to claim the franchise’s first Super Bowl.