While I cannot confirm nor deny Eagles GM Howie Roseman is an avid Practice Squad Power Rankings reader, I'm going to take the liberty to assume he absolutely is.
Just four days after Hakeem Butler was the PSPR's Week 3 cover guy, the Eagles snatched Butler from the Panthers and ... brilliantly converted him to tight end. Why didn't I think of that? Guess that explains why Roseman is a GM, and I currently am not. Butler is essentially modern-day TE size (nearly 6-foot-6 and 227 pounds) and apparently had trouble separating against cornerbacks in his first two training camps with the Cardinals. Now he'll likely get matchups against safeties and linebackers over the middle. And dude has a soccer-net sized catch radius. Plus, the Eagles are so injured at receiver and tight end, they should be scheduling another open tryout to try to find the next Vince Papale.
Before Week 3's action, and Butler getting The Call from a new team, PSPR -- which is cruising now by the way -- had three additional call-ups last week. The in-dire-straits Eagles elevated slot wideout Deontay Burnett to the 53-man roster before the hideous tie against the Bengals, and he produced. No surprise here. Burnett was targeted four times by Carson Wentz and caught three passes for 19 yards. One of those grabs went for a first down. The Eagles literally had one wide receiver practice Thursday -- former UDFA and overachiever Greg Ward -- so you can bet your bottom dollar Burnett will be getting The Call again.
And for the second-straight week, LeVante Bellamy got The Call from the Broncos with Phillip Lindsay on the shelf. And for the second-straight week, Bellamy didn't get an offensive touch. The athletic but in-need-of-bulk Derrek Tuszka received The Call before Thursday Night Football.And four hours before that bizarro-world primetime affair between the Broncos and Jets, New York called up last week's No. 7 ranked PSPR member Javelin Guidry to get reps in the secondary. He ran the second-fastest time at the combine a few months ago (4.29) but had quality albeit unspectacular film as a slot corner in 2019 at Utah.
Update: Loyal PSPR reader Matthew Boles alerted me to Ron'Dell Carter -- a multi-week honorable mention -- being grabbed off the Cowboys practice squad by the Colts on September 30. He's a powerful, heavy-handed edge rusher with an always humming motor. Hats off to you for the tip, Matthew. If you a PSPR member getting The Call, alert me @ChrisTrapasso on Twitter, and feel free to use the hashtag #FridaysAreForPSPR. Thank you in advance.
The PSPR tracker now reads nine call-ups from six different players.
For those who missed it in the PSPR's 2020 debut, I'm only including practice squadders who are rookies, second-year players, or third-year players. That's it. And it aligns perfectly with my niche area of expertise, because the 2018 draft class is the first I fully evaluated as CBS Sports' NFL Draft analyst.
And as you'll see below, I couldn't resist ranking more players, given the increase in practice squad sizes this season. To run parallel with the league's figure, I hope to write about 16 individuals every Friday, 10 officially in the rankings and six honorable mentions.
1. Deontay Burnett, WR, Eagles
Burnett was one of my first draft crushes, someone who finished as a second-round talent on my first Big Board at CBS Sports in 2018. At USC, he often was Sam Darnold's first read. In 2017, he caught 86 passes for 1,114 yards with nine touchdowns. He's a small but sudden slot wideout who can separate underneath and at the intermediate level. Why did I like him so much more than your average inside receiver? Burnett played bigger than his nearly 6-0, 186-pound frame. No pass was seemingly too far out in front of him. His natural ball skills and elusiveness after the catch made him a favorite of mine. Burnett has played sparingly through two seasons, but later in his rookie season, he was elevated to the Jets active roster and demonstrated he still had a connection with Darnold. He had a four-catch, 61-yard effort in late October and a five-grab, 73-yard performance against the Patriots to end the year. Burnett proved in Week 3 he can get open and make catches in this league. But for right now, he's still a practice squad member in Philly.
2. Jauan Jennings, WR, 49ers
Now with Brandon Aiyuk healthy and Deebo Samuel close to returning, the chances of Jennings hearing The Call are dwindling. I'll never know why Kyle Shanahan didn't at least use the first three weeks as a quasi preseason audition for Jennings. But it didn't happen. If San Francisco deals with receiver injuries again, Jennings will be ready. Unfortunately, I just think it's going to be a while before he sees the field during a regular season game.
3. Antoine Brooks, S, Steelers
Brooks looks the part of a trendy safety-linebacker hybrid at 5-11 and 220 pounds. He's not fast -- he ran 4.64 at the combine -- but his short-area quickness and instincts were both outstanding on film at Maryland. Brooks overflowed the stat sheet in 2018 and 2019 with a combined 155 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two picks, and eight pass breakups. He's often the first to (correctly) react to where the offense plans to go with the football, will make plays in coverage at the short-to-intermediate level. And he is a sure tackler. He has the athleticism to sift through the traffic to get the ball carrier too.
4. Robert Davis, WR, Raiders
Davis, who I labeled "The Practice Squad Julio Jones" last year, is back. And it feels good. To summarize what Davis brings to the field -- he's 6-3 and 210 pounds and had a combine performance in 2018 nearly identical to Jones' in 2011. Yeah, that freaky. He suffered a bad knee injury in his rookie season and was lost for the year after an encouraging camp. He then lived on the Redskins then Eagles practice squads and most recently was waived/injured by Philadelphia. I was bummed, and thought it might be the end of the road for Davis, given the injuries. Now he's back, and the Raiders have injuries of their own at receiver.
5. Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Eagles
Early in the 2020 pre-draft process, there was an early-round buzz for Wanogho. Injuries led to a precipitous fall to the sixth round, but the tools are there for the Nigeria-born former Auburn star to ultimately be the bookend tackle to Andre Dillard in Philadelphia, a club that's been outstanding at the tackle positions for a while now. Wanogho plays with requisite knee bend, so he's not easily fork-lifted by smaller rushers, and he's explosive off the snap and in the screen game. With better punch timing and added weight, he can be a consistent pass-protecting tackle in the NFL. This season, he'd mostly be useful getting to the second level in the run game.
6. Robert Foster, WR, Packers
Foster's an enigma. Barely produces at Alabama, but runs 4.41 at nearly 6-2 and 198 pounds. Makes the Bills' roster as an undrafted free agent but hardly plays in his first two months of his rookie season in 2018. Then? He registers 25 catches for 511 yards (20.4 yards per) with three scores in the NFL and looks like the future No. 1 in Buffalo. In his sophomore campaign, injuries keep him off the field, as they do John Brown and Cole Beasley. Foster had three catches for 64 yards last season. Three catches. That's it! With Stefon Diggs and rookie Gabriel Davis, who pieced together an awesome summer, the Bills released Foster, and the Packers grabbed him off waivers. If healthy, Foster has the size and pure speed to be a deep-play specialist with Aaron Rodgers.
7. Scottie Phillips, RB, Texans
Phillips is this small, twitchy back you think would have no power to his game. Then he runs through a linebacker and breaks off a 60-yard touchdown run. Well, that's what he did at Ole Miss at least. He was on the draft radar two year ago as a key member of those Ole Miss teams with D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown. But his senior season saw his yards-per-carry average dip to 4.3 from 6.1. He then tested poorly at the combine, which further pushed him down boards, but he plays more athletic than his workout numbers indicate. Phillips' game is predicated on suddenness through the hole, some bounce, and straight-ahead contact balance.
8. Rodney Clemons, S, Chiefs
Clemons was a late watch for me and instantly found himself inside my Top 175. Talk about coverage range and ball skill as a safety, Clemons has both, and they were on full display in a very productive career at SMU. After three interceptions and 18 pass breakups in his first three years with the Mustangs, Clemons hauled in four picks and defended nine passes as a senior. In my notes I wrote "keenly aware of route concepts and where next progression may be, so he routinely finds the football."
9. Mark Fields, CB, Vikings
Fields is a bit of a mystery because he was barely a part-time player during his career at Clemson yet flashed when he got onto the field for the Tigers. He looked the part at the Senior Bowl in 2019, ran 4.37 at a close to 5-10 and 192 pounds. His twitch is undeniable to click-and-close on short routes or follow when receivers completely change directions. As a rookie, Fields played just six snaps, but he has the natural talent to be a versatile inside-outside cornerback. There's plenty of youth in Minnesota's secondary now after the team heavily invested there in the draft.
10. Jaleel Scott, WR, Jets
Scott, originally a fourth-round pick by the Ravens, essentially had a redshirt year to get stronger as a rookie then in Year 2 led the Ravens in receiving during the preseason. Now he's on a hapless Jets club that could use Wayne Chrebet and Laveranues Coles at this juncture given the widespread injuries in its receiver room. Scott is nearly 6-5 and 218 pounds and excels when he needs to extend to make a catch outside his frame.
Marcell Ateman, WR, Raiders
To date, Ateman has been on the field for 511 snaps across two seasons in his NFL career and has 20 grabs for 270 yards and a touchdown. While he's unlikely to play much if Las Vegas' receivers stay healthy, Ateman's produced when given the opportunity and brings a big-play element to the field not because of his speed but because of his gigantic catch radius at nearly 6-foot-5. It might be a while before he sees the field because of the glut of receivers Las Vegas has, but Ateman can play.
Duke Williams, WR, Bills
Williams was signed by the Bills in early January of 2019 to one of those futures contracts that are almost always overlooked and lead nowhere. But the physical rebounder made the team, scored a game-winning touchdown in a vital win over the Titans in Tennessee and had four catches for 49 yards in Buffalo's playoff defeat at the hands of the Texans. He can play.
Lavert Hill, CB, Chiefs
Hill's press-man experience should get him on the field in his rookie season at some point, although he lacks imposing size and length at 5-10 and 190 pounds with short arms. He gets grabby when trying to run with speedsters down the field, and refs will have a field day with his over-aggressiveness. However, Hill's feet hit the ground like lightning bolts, and his hips look like they disconnect from his lower half when he changes direction. Hill's twitched up, so he can really mirror those intricate routes.
Stanley Morgan, WR, Bengals
Morgan was a mainstay on the PSPR last year and has three catches for 18 yards on his NFL resume. In short, he hardly played as a rookie. At Nebraska, it was impossible finding a game in which Morgan didn't pop. His receptions and receiving-yard total increased in all four seasons with the Huskers, and he rocked the agility drills at the combine. He's a wiry-framed running back with the football in his hands in space.
Stephen Sullivan, TE, Seahawks
Of course, Sullivan didn't receive many targets in 2019 at LSU given the presence of Ja'Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire on the roster. He's a fine candidate to be a better pro than he was a college player because of his size/speed combination and the fact he's playing with Russell Wilson, probably the best deep-ball thrower in the NFL. Sullivan blew away everyone at the Senior Bowl by continually winning down the field then ran 4.66 at 6-5 and 248 pounds at the combine. There's not much nuance to his game right now, but Sullivan is magnificently long -- 35 3/8-inch arms -- and can really run.
J.R. Reed, S, Rams
Reed has NFL bloodlines -- his dad Jake Reed was Cris Carter's sidekick for a period in Minnesota -- and the former Georgia safety has similar speed when ranging from the deep middle in coverage. He intercepted five passes and broke up 14 more in three years with the Bulldogs and is a big safety at 6-1, 202. There's not one area in which he particularly excels. Reed's specialty is that he's extremely well-rounded in all phases of the game.