Whaley’s NFL dream closer with Bengals signing
Bermudian Devwah Whaley has been given a chance to realise his dream of playing in the National Football League after he was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Whaley, a running back at the University of Arkansas, was not selected in the NFL Draft at the weekend, but was picked up as an unrestricted free agent — and could take to the field with Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner and No 1 overall selection, if all goes well.
It was no surprise that Whaley was not picked up initially, after two largely injury-affected seasons in his junior and senior years with the Razorbacks.
Arkansas were the worst team in the power-packed Southeastern Conference in 2019 with an 0-8 record — 2-10 overall — costing them any chance of being invited to a Bowl game, prime time viewing for college football enthusiasts and NFL scouts.
Whaley, who was mostly used as a blocking back and on short-yardage plays, had only 69 carries for 278 yards with four touchdowns in 2019. He also caught 16 passes out of the backfield for 141 yards.
The interest around the 22-year-old after a freshman year when he rushed for more than 600 yards was genuine. But, like the Razorbacks’ programme overall, he has taken backward steps since — not helped by serious injury that moved him down the pecking order at an already struggling school that went through its share of coaching changes.
During Arkansas’ Pro Day, where NFL scouts came to watch shortly after the end of Bowl season, Whaley ran an unimpressive 4.62sec 40-yard dash, which many suggest shows one of the big flaws in his game — labelling him as a “a throwback, one-cut running back”.
Cincinnati-based pundit Patrick Judis added: “He doesn’t really have that top-end speed to make him one of the sought-after running backs in the NFL.”
Two of Whaley’s team-mates were selected in the draft — linebacker McTelvin Agim bythe Denver Broncos in the third round and safety Kamren Curl by the Washington Redskins in the seventh and final round.
Whaley is one of five Razorbacks to be signed as undrafted free agents.
The Bengals, of the AFC North Division, were the worst team in the NFL last season with a 2-14 record and did not draft a running back with one of their seven picks — which gives Whaley’s supporters some hope he can make the 53-player roster by showing value on special teams covering kick-offs and punts.
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