Good things come in threes, and that held true for Duke in the aftermath of this year’s NFL Draft.
After watching four of their teammates get drafted by NFL teams, Deon Jackson, Mark Gilbert and Devery Hamilton did not have to wait long to get their own spots. Jackson found a new home with the Indianapolis Colts, the Pittsburgh Steelers picked up Gilbert and Hamilton secured a spot with the Las Vegas Raiders.
All three joined their respective teams as undrafted free agents, and will have their work cut out for them in the offseason and in training camp in order to secure a spot on the 53-man roster.
Jackson played the most games as a Blue Devil out of the trio, seeing time in 48 of the 49 games that occurred during his career. The Atlanta native has NFL size and speed, but lacks some of the elusiveness of his fellow peers in addition to never really developing the receiving-out-of-the-backfield potion of his game. Nevertheless, the zero career fumbles and durability of Jackson gives him a shot at a roster spot come fall.
Gilbert is quite the opposite of Jackson, in that he struggled to stay healthy throughout his time in Durham. The injury-history is a concern with Gilbert, but his 15 passes defended and six interceptions back in 2017 are too impressive of a statline to not at least give a chance to. The Fayetteville, N.C., native managed to tally an interception before getting injured again in the 2020 season, so there were still flashes of his 2017 self. However, he will have to prove he can weather the physicality of the NFL to lock down his spot.
Hamilton spent the least time as a Blue Devil in this bunch, transferring from Stanford to the Bull City prior to this most recent reason. And for a guy who went undrafted, it’s almost surprising to see someone check the boxes on height and weight as well as Hamilton does. At 310 pounds and 6-foot-9, the Maryland native fits the NFL mold, so with some additional coaching and the openings the Raiders have on their offensive line, Hamilton has a real shot at a roster spot.
Jake Piazza is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.