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Friday, June 2, 2023


Going camping: Former Cougars head to the NFL

Wide receiver Deontay Greenberry and defensive tackle Joey Mbu were valuable members of the Cougars during their time at UH.

Greenberry made the American Athletic Conference First Team in 2013, and finished his career ninth on the all-time UH career receiving yards chart with 2,612 yards and eighth all-time with 20 career receiving touchdowns.

Mbu was a two-year starter and team captain. He finished with 92 career tackles, including 10.5 for loss, four sacks, eight pass breakups, two interceptions and was a Reese’s Senior Bowl invitee.

Despite their noteworthy college careers, neither Houston star was lucky enough to hear their name called in the 2015 NFL Draft in April.

But both men still found their way onto NFL teams as undrafted free-agents – Greenberry signing with the Dallas Cowboys and Mbu signing with the Atlanta Falcons.

With two former Cougar players fighting for roster spots this summer, let’s take a closer look at each situation.

What they could bring to the NFL

Greenberry, at 6 feet 3 inches tall and 200 pounds, has excellent size and overall length for the receiver position.

He showed that he knows how to use that size to his advantage during his time at UH, adjusting to poor throws and displaying his willingness to high-point a ball in the air.

His experience playing outside and from the slot gives him the versatility that coaches look for in undrafted free agents, and he has the ability to win on deep passes to the outside, a trait highly coveted in a passing league.

He overall lack of quickness and next-level speed are the biggest obstacles to his development.

His hands need improvement, as he was tied for second in the FBS with 11 drops last year.

Mbu has prototypical size for an NFL nose tackle at 6’2″, 310 pounds and plays well against the run and pass.

He works to keep himself clean as he mirrors run play down the line and is a frenetic rusher, giving guards a moving target to track.

Projected as high as the fourth round, part of what made him an intriguing prospect was his position flexibility, able to play either a 4-3 tackle or nose tackle in a 3-4.

Where they fit with their new teams

The Dallas Cowboys have long history of success with undrafted receivers, most notably former Cowboy Miles Austin, who made himself into a two-time Pro Bowler during his eight seasons in Dallas after signing as an undrafted free-agent out of Monmouth University in 2006.

That track record is certainly good news for him, but it’s also the reason several other undrafted receivers signed with Dallas.

Southern California’s George Farmer, Baylor’s Antwan Goodley, Kansas’ Nick Harwell and Florida Atlantic’s Lucky Whitehead and Greenberry will all compete to fill the vacancy left when the Cowboys lost Dwayne Harris, their primary returner and fourth receiver, to free agency.

This gives Greenberry a real chance to find a role for himself if he can make an Austin-like impact during camp.

As for Mbu, he finds himself on a Falcons squad that ranked 15th against the run last year, giving up and 4.2 yards per carry and 118 yards per game.

The former Cougar has the skills that the 27th scoring defense from 2014 sorely needs, but the numbers are not in his favor.

He is buried on the depth chart behind newly added free-agent Paul Soliai, Jonathan Babineaux, Ra’Shede Hageman, and fifth round pick Gardy Jerrett.

With no skins on his wall, Mbu has a long road ahead of him, but his hard work has already drawn the eye of defensive line coach Bryan Cox.

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