The number of black college players on opening day NFL rosters is down by six from 42 to 36 from a year ago as the 2015-16 NFL season kicks off with Thursday’s match up of Super Bowl champion New England and Pittsburgh.
Four black college rookies made opening day rosters led by Arizona’s fourth round pick Rodney Gunter out of Delaware State and Baltimore’s fourth round choice, cornerback Tray Walker out of Texas Southern. Tennessee State offensive lineman Robert Myers, a fifth-round pick of Baltimore, was cut by the Ravens Saturday but was picked up by Indianapolis. And former Houston and Baltimore wide receiver and kick return specialist Jacoby Jones out of Lane, is now in San Diego.
Detroit defensive back Rashean Mathis from Bethune-Cookman and Indianapolis linebacker Robert Mathis out of Alabama A&M, both entering their 13th year in the league, are the elder statesmen from black colleges. Howard’s Antoine Bethea (San Francisco), Alabama State’s Tavaris Jackson (Seattle) and Grambling’s Jason Hatcher (Washington) are all black college alums with ten years in the league.
Tennessee State, with five players now in the league, has moved past Hampton, who now sports four players in the league. The MEAC (13) stayed ahead of the SWAC (9) in terms of the conference with the most players in the NFL. Washington and Indianapolis have the most black college players on their rosters with four. Three other teams (Atlanta, St. Louis and the NY Giants) have three. Defensive line (10) is the position with the most black college players, just one more than defensive backs (9).