Why Undrafted?: Eric Striker

By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Two years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In this series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. Last year, we started the “Why the Slide?” series, and this year it is back along with “Why Undrafted?” Feel free to email me requests for “Why the Slide?” and “Why Undrafted?” at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely respond.

Over the past few years, Oklahoma’s Eric Striker was one of the most dangerous and consistent pass-rushers in college football. He finished the 2013 season with a coming-out party against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, dominating Crimson Tide left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio for three sacks and seven tackles. Striker had 6.5 sacks as a sophomore, nine as a junior, and 7.5 as a senior despite Oklahoma using him in a variety of ways, including dropping into pass coverage. Despite the steady production though, Striker went undrafted.

Sources said the reason that Striker wasn’t selected was because of he is very undersized and a tweener for the NFL. They didn’t feel that Striker translated to the NFL as a draft pick. The 5-foot-11, 228-pounder is extremely undersized to be a linebacker and edge rusher. His body type is really that of a safety, but he isn’t a safety in terms of speed and athleticism. As a result, Striker wasn’t graded as draftable by many teams.

After going undrafted, Striker signed with the Buffalo Bills, and that was a good choice. The Bills needed to upgrade their defensive front seven, and they’re looking for new blood in the front of their defense. Mario Williams was let go, and Buffalo needs more players to hunt the quarterback. However, the organization drafted Shaq Lawson in the first round, and he will be the immediate replacement for Williams. Still, Rex and Rob Ryan are creative defensive coaches who will use situational players. The Bills also have a lot of veteran linebackers with expiring contracts after this season. Striker will need to rush the passer extremely well in training camp and show development as more of a traditional linebacker. He also will need to be a core special teams player to make the final 53-man roster. That will be a serious challenge for him.

Perhaps Striker could make the practice squad and serve as some pass-rushing depth for the season in case injuries hit. If he does well there, he could be in place to get consideration as a replacement for one of those veterans. It wouldn’t surprise me if Striker ends up contributing in a role for the Bills.

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