UB wide receiver Justin Marshall signed as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons after the seven-round NFL draft concluded on April 29.
No other players from UB officially signed with NFL teams, but offensive lineman Desmond Bessent and linebacker James Patterson received camp invites with the Chicago Bears and the Buffalo Bills respectively.
What Marshall brings to Atlanta
Marshall is a 6’3, 210 lb. wide receiver who started his college career at Louisville. In his first year, the Georgia native recorded six catches, with 135 receiving yards. Fast forward to 2022, when Marshall came to UB as a graduate transfer, he had 64 receptions with 837 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
Marshall didn’t receive an invite to the NFL Combine but attended UB’s pro day. He ran a 4.40 second 40-yard dash — an impressive time given Marshall’s size — and recorded a 38-inch vertical leap.
Per ESPN, the Atlanta Falcons were ranked the second-to-last receiving team in the NFL. Atlanta recorded just 257 receptions and 2,927 receiving yards. Marshall has an opportunity to join the Falcons’ struggling offense alongside playmaking receivers Drake London and Mack Hollins.
What Desmond Bessent could bring to Chicago
Desmond Bessent, who stands at 6'6 and weighs around 320 lbs., could bring interior power and speed to help protect Bears quarterback Justin Fields and create space for Bears running back D'onta Foreman.
Bessent started his college career with the San Diego State Aztecs, but transferred to Buffalo for his final year of eligibility. Bessent helped block for a UB team that was ranked top-five in the conference in scoring offense (28.5 points), passing offense (235.3 yards per game), as well as total offense (377.2 yards per game). Bessent received All-MAC Third Team honors in 2022.
Bessent recorded a 1.8 second 10-yard dash, a 3.04 second 20-yard dash, as well as a 27-inch vertical at UB’s pro day. He’ll have a chance to earn a spot on a Bears team desperate to protect its young, mobile quarterback, Justin Fields.
What James Patterson could bring to Buffalo
James Patterson is a six-foot, 232 lb. linebacker.
In his fifth year at UB, he recorded 69 solo tackles and assisted on 51 tackles for a total of 120 — good for second on the team. Patterson also recorded 1.5 sacks, forced two fumbles and recorded an interception in his 13 games in 2022.
Patterson could bring speed and good hands to the NFL. Patterson had four QB hurries, two pass break-ups and two fumble recoveries. Patterson recorded a 1.71 10-yard dash, as well as a 30 inch standing vertical.
Patterson has the opportunity to compete for a roster spot on a Bills defense that lost star linebacker Tremaine Edmunds in free agency.
Hayden Azzinaro is an assistant sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org