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Illinois Football players who made NFL Rosters



East Rutherford, NJ August 26, 2023 -- Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers with quarterback Tommy DeVito of the Giants at the end of the game. The NY Jets against the NY Giants on August 26, 2023 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, as the rivals play their final preseason game before the start of the NFL season.

Illinois Football players who made NFL Rosters

Illinois Football may not have the biggest NFL presence. After a tumultuous decade under Tim Beckman and Lovie Smith, the Illini presence has seemingly dwindled in the NFL. Though Lovie Smith recruited some of these players to Illinois, The Bret Bielema era has focused on improvement and sustained reliability. Players are learning strong habits that stick with them on their journeys to becoming professional football players. Whether they are drafted or undrafted, Illinois Football is slowly growing their presence in the professional ranks.

The list will certainly grow. Players like Johnny Newton, Keith Randolph, Isaiah Adams and more could probably be on NFL rosters this very moment. However, these guys came back to further their college legacy and to further solidify their draft prospects. Illinois continues to win power-five recruiting battles which also ensures that their presence will continue to grow.

The Class of 2023:

To start, I wanted to highlight the players who just graduated from Illinois. These players are probably the most familiar. They were a huge reason why Illinois Football had its best season in quite some time.

  1. Devon Witherspoon (Seattle Seahawks
  2. Quan Martin (Washington Commanders)
  3. Sydney Brown (Philadelphia Eagles)
  4. Chase Brown (Cincinnati Bengals)
  5. Tommy Devito (New York Giants)
  6. Isaac Darkangelo (Las Vegas Raiders)
  7. Alex Palczewski (Denver Broncos)

The first four players were all 2023 NFL Draft picks. Witherspoon made history and was the fifth overall pick in the draft. Though he was limited by a preseason, Witherspoon is carrying the DB U flag into the NFL. Quan Martin and Sydney Brown probably had the most successful preseasons as they continued to make plays and impress their coaching staff. Notably, Kendall Smith made some plays on the Washington Commanders, however was cut.  Chase Brown struggled this preseason. Brown had 28 carries for 69 yards, however did catch the ball well out of the backfield.

Tommy Devito was very impressive. He threw for 453 yards at a 67 percent completion rate. He had two touchdowns and two interceptions. The two interceptions included one end of the game Hail Mary.

Other notable alums

  1. Kendrick Green (Houston Texans)
  2. Jake Hansen (Houston Texans)
  3. Vederian Lowe (New England Patriots)
  4. Del’Shawn Phillips (Baltimore Ravens)
  5. Doug Kramer (Chicago Bears)
  6. Ted Karras (Cincinnati Bengals)
  7. Kerby Joseph (Detroit Lions)
  8. Dawuane Smoot (Jacksonville Jaguars)
  9. Jihad Ward (New York Giants)
  10. Nate Hobbs (Las Vegas Raiders)
  11. Nick Allegretti (Kansas City Chiefs)
  12. Tony Adams (New York Jets)
  13. Justin Hardee (New York Jets)
  14. Chase Mclaughlin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Quite the list! Most of these players were just in Champaign trying to win on Lovie Smith’s roster. There are many more players such as Owen Carney, Kendall Smith and Clayton Fejedelem who are trying their best to get back onto NFL rosters. James Mccourt is also a player that has potential. Despite this, Illinois Football is growing its presence. That presence will only grow.

Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.