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At the Next Level, the reckoning has begun

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Today was the deadline for the first round of NFL roster cuts. Among former Baylor Bears, there were a few casualties and one surprise.

Ball hawk Bryce Hager celebrates after recovering fumble vs. IND.
Ball hawk Bryce Hager celebrates after recovering fumble vs. IND.
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Today was the deadline for the first round of NFL roster cuts.  Here’re the list of casualties, based on current reporting.

Phil Taylor (CLE) – Taylor was most surprising name on the list, by far.  Some reports indicate that Taylor asked to be released. A former first-round pick in 2011, Taylor’s been beset by knee injuries, and was rehabbing from a season-ending injury sustained in late 2014. Taylor’s ask and the Browns answer are both an indication of how well 1st round pick Danny Shelton has played in pre-season.

I'd bet a nickel he’ll be on another roster by noon tomorrow.  His contract with the Brown’s was guaranteed for 2015, so there’s only upside for Taylor at this point.

Tevin Reese (CIN) and Antwan Goodley (DAL) – Both Reese and Goodley nursed injuries throughout camp and didn’t see enough action to make an impression on coaches.  Both were released today.

J.D. Walton (MIA) – Walton was released Monday morning.  He was edged out by rookie Sam Brenner for the 2nd string slot.

Levi Norwood (CHI) – The Bear’s waived Norwood on Sunday night.  He posted this on instagram shortly thereafter:

So unbelievably blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of the @chicagobears organization, even if it was only a short period of time. I was able to learn from some of the best players and coaches in football. I did not consider being released part of "my plan" but my life is not according to "my plans." I don't hang my head because I know My Awesome God has an Awesome Plan for my life, just as He says in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." #BBB

Makes me proud to be a Baylor Bear. I would love to see him in some role in our AD. Might we have a spot for high-character young man, with a football background and a PR degree?

Making it at the Next Level is so tough. Not many jobs are so Darwinian. Beyond skill and attitude, it takes opportunity and luck.  Keep these guys in your thoughts and prayers as they work through whatever comes next.

The next round of cuts comes quick; this Saturday at 4P ET.  Here are the guys that are still on the bubble.

Bryce Hager (STL) – Hager continues to get tons of playing time in St. Louis. He’s actually the Rams leading tackler at this point in the preseason. He also had a nice fumble recovery this week. His main competition, Daren Bates, is still rehabbing an MCL sprain.

Chance Casey (IND) – Casey looked great, albeit in the Rams last drive of game.  He recorded 3 solo tackles, including one sack, which came on a 4th and 10 with 1:57 remaining.

Demetri Goodson (GB) – Goodson recorded one tackle (solo) vs. PHI, coming in the 4th qtr.

Kelvin Palmer (PIT) – Palmer has been ghost in preseason. I scoured the furthest reaches of the internet for 4 weeks and can find nary a mention.  If I hadn’t seen his contract status at spotrac.com (where he’s listed as "Kevin"), I’d have thought it never happened.

While I’d love to be wrong, I don’t think there’s any way Casey, Goodson and Palmer survive Saturday.  Hager though?  I think he’s done enough to earn a spot.

Here’s how the rest of your former Baylor Bears fared.  (We’ll skip the "Next Game" note, since no one should ever (EVER!) watch a 4th preseason game. Even if you could find it in your channel line-up, they’re all on Thursday night,which is opposite the CFB openers).

Robert Griffin (WAS) – FUBAR.  Dumpster fire.  Goat rope.  Can we just…talk about this later? But if you must.

Bryce Petty (NYJ) – vs. NYG 5/8 42yds 0 TD. When he wasn’t inflaming New York and New Jersey’s pizza-rati, he was delivering his own cardboard and bland product (Sorry – couldn’t help it).

Jet’s coaches are actually pretty positive on Petty’s progress (say that 5 times fast).  I expect he’ll get lost of playing time and look great against Philly’s third string on Thursday night. Don’t watch it, tho.

Terrance Williams (DAL) – v. MIN 1 / 2 for 60 yds, 1 TD.   Five Guys.  Delicious.  Not the burgers & fries, but the five Vikings T-Will beat to score on a 60 yd TD catch in the Cowboys dress rehearsal v. MIN.  Truly, it was 20 yd catch and 40 YAC.  I can’t embed it here, but it’s worth the click to NFL.com to check it out.

The superlatives for Williams are everywhere at the moment, and justifiably so.  As ESPN’s Todd Archer points out.

The past seven times Williams has touched the ball, going back to the 2014 playoffs, he has touchdowns of 76 yards (vs. Detroit Lions), 38 yards (vs. Green Bay Packers) and 60 yards. For his career he has six touchdowns of at least 38 yards.

Kendall Wright (TEN) – vs. KC 3/3 for 60 yds, 0 TD.  All you need to know: "Mariota’s Favorite Target."

Matt Bryant (ATL) – 3/3 FG, including a 50 ydr, 0/0 XP.  Bryant accounted for all of Atlanta’s scoring vs. MIA, and remained perfect in the preseason.

Jonathan Weeks (HOU) – The Texas were 2/2 on FGs and 3/3 on XPs.  No punts blocked.  So far under the radar, I bet you can’t even find him on Hard Knocks.

Cyril Richardson (BUF) – I actually saw some of this with my own two eyes.  I'm not qualified to judge offensive line play, but I never saw him get beat.

BTW Item of the week: While considering Bryce Hager’s chances of making the Rams final roster, I learned that 7th round picks make the final roster 58.3% of the time.  Here’s the full table.

Round Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
1 99.70% 93.50% 83.90% 77.40% 71.00%
2 96.80% 96.10% 83.90% 74.20% 41.90%
3 96.90% 75.10% 62.50% 37.50% 18.80%
4 91.40% 74.30% 54.30% 34.30% 17.20%
5 81.10% 56.80% 37.80% 24.30% 16.20%
6 70.20% 57.50% 35.30% 20.90% 10.60%
7 58.30% 45.80% 31.30% 21.70% 16.70%

That’s it for now.  There’ll be a flurry of activity on 9/6, as players are claimed, or clear waivers and are picked up as free agents.  We’ll be back on 9/8, after all the dust settles, with a full report.  Until then, good luck to all Baylor Bears at the Next Level.  And that includes you!