The 2023 regular season is officially over which means that it is time for playoffs. Rutgers University will be well represented with a decent number of former players on playoff teams. Here is a look at the former Rutgers players on teams in the league, and how they did throughout the season. The players listed have played this season, some more known than others.
Baltimore Ravens – Gus Edwards
Runningback, Gus Edwards, is a player that NFL fans know. Edwards is on the Baltimore Ravens and a big factor in their run game. While Edwards spent four seasons playing for the Miami Hurricanes, he spent one year at Rutgers before the NFL. He played for Rutgers in 2017, and rushed for 713 yards, according to Sports Reference. Years later, he is still a strong player.
Edwards has had a really solid season for Baltimore this year. According to ESPN, this season, Edwards has rushed the ball 198 times for 810 yards, and 13 touchdowns. He also had 12 receptions for 180 yards and did score one two-point conversion this year, where he played in all 17 games. As for turnovers, he fumbled the ball three times this year. Twice from running the ball and once from a reception.
When J.K Dobbins went down with an achilles tear, while there was trust in Edwards, there was still fear about the Ravens’ run game. Edwards stepped up big time this season, putting the Ravens in a great position to win games. While Lamar Jackson is the team’s leading rusher, Edwards still leads among running backs. In his sixth season, he will be one of the former Rutgers players to make an impact throughout the playoffs.
Cleveland Browns – Duron Harmon
The Cleveland Browns have made the NFL playoffs. While the recent storyline surrounding the team is Joe Flacco, this team’s defense is a huge reason they made the playoffs. Among this defense is safety Duron Harmon, a former Rutgers player. This season, according to ESPN, Harmon has had 16 total tackles 13, 13 of which were solo, and one sack. He also had two passes defended and one interception.
Harmon spend four years with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, from 2009 to 2012. In those four years, Harmon had 129 combined tackles, 83 solo, and 4.5 tackles for loss, according to Sports Reference. He also ended his collegiate career with six interceptions and one touchdown. He also had two touchdowns from recovering a fumble. Harmon was selected in the third round with the 91st overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.
His interception came against the Brown’s win against the Houston Texans, another playoff team this season. Those two teams will face off again in the wild-card round. In a game that means everything, perhaps Harmon will be one of the former Rutgers players to have a big game this weekend. Harmon has only played in four games this season, which means he may not this weekend, but anything can happen in a big game.
Greenbay Packers – Bo Melton
Bo Melton is a recent name to be brought up within the last couple of weeks of the NFL season. Melton has not played much this year but did become the first player on the Greenbay Packers to have a 100+ receiving-yard game this season. According to ESPN, Melton has had 16 receptions for 218 yards and one touchdown. This touchdown was against the Minnesota Vikings, a game Melton was a big part of. He has also had five carries for 21 yards.
Melton spent five years with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, from 2017 to 2021. In those five years, Melton had 164 receptions for 2,011 yards and 11 touchdowns, according to Sports Reference. Similarly to this year’s time with Melton, while it was not often, he did rush the ball at times. In college, Melton rushed the ball 25 times for 165 and two touchdowns.
The Packers are starting to get healthy, but have a tough matchup against the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of playoffs. It will take everyone on that squad to step up, and Melton will be one of those players to do what he can to help the team win. Melton has only played in five games this season, but he showed up when it mattered. He could turn into one of the former Rutgers players to have a successful career in the league.
Kansas City Chiefs – Isiah Pacheco
Another big-time player who was also a former Rutgers player is Isiah Pacheco. Pacheco is a Super Bowl Champion after the win with the Kansas City Chiefs. Pacheco is once again in the playoffs with the Chiefs despite missing a couple of games due to injury. In 14 games, Pacheco has had 205 carries for 935 yards and seven touchdowns, according to ESPN. He also has had 44 receptions for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Pacheco being absent for a couple of games was felt, but he is healthy entering playoffs.
Before being drafted in the seventh round with the 251st overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft by the Cheifs, Pacheco was a Scarlet Knight. He played for Rutgers from 2018 to 2021. In his four years, Pacheco rushed the ball 563 times for 2,442 yards and 18 touchdowns, according to Sports Reference. He also had 18 receptions for 249 yards and one touchdown.
The Kansas City Chiefs will start the playoffs at home against the Miami Dolphins. It’s going to be a cold one at Arrowhead, but with how the Chiefs season has been going, Pacheco is set to be a big-time player. They have the home-field advantage and had a chance to rest starters, but if their receivers struggle, Pacheco and the other running backs will need to step up big.
Los Angeles Rams – Olakunle Fatukasi
Second-year linebacker, Olakunle Fatukasi almost did not make this list of former Rutgers players. With only including the players who played this season, Fatukasi just made it. In week 18, both the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams rested their starters for the majority of the game. This gave their depth pieces some valuable reps. In the game, Fatukasi had just one tackle, according to ESPN. But, at least he got playing time.
Fatukasi spent five years with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. He was with them from 2017 until his final season in 2021. In that time, the linebacker ended up with 282 combined tackles, 162 solo, and six sacks, according to Sports Reference. He also ended up with 25.5 tackles for loss. While Fatukasi never had an interception with Rutgers, he did have seven passes defended, four forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries, one of which was a touchdown.
Fatukasi spent some time with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers in 2022. He may not have put up many stats, but he was active for 13 games. This was his second year in the league, and still looking for a team where he would get a chance to play more often. He os one of the former Rutgers players that may not play this weekend, but is still on a team in the playoffs.
San Francisco 49ers – Sebastian Joseph-Day & Logan Ryan
Defensive tackle, Sebastian Joseph-Day did spend the majority of the 2023 season with the Los Angeles Chargers but will be in the playoffs with the San Francisco 49ers. Defensive tackle, Arik Armstead has missed quite some time, which led the 49ers to sign Joseph-Day. In 16 total games, Joseph-Day has had 36 total tackles, 19 solo, and three sacks, according to ESPN. He also has had three tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hits.
Joseph-Day spent five years with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. He was there from 2013 until 2017. Interestingly, the defensive lineman was with Rutgers in their final year in the American Conference, though he was just a freshman who played in just one game.
Over his five years, he ended up with 90 total tackles, 18 solo, and 3.5 sacks, according to Sports Reference. He also ended up with 14.5 tackles for loss. While he had no interceptions, Joseph-Day did have two pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. He was drafted in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams in the sixth round with the 195th overall pick.
Joseph-Day only spent two regular season games with the San Francisco 49ers. They needed a veteran to fill in the rotation and had the chance to use him more against the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers have a ton of tough players on the defensive line but always rotate to keep everyone rested. With a projected healthy defensive line heading into the divisional round, Joseph-Day may not be on the field often, but he is one of the former Rutgers players to likely play.
One of the other former Rutgers players on the San Francisco 49ers is safety Logan Ryan. Ryan has not played often in the season, but he is important veteran depth. When Talanoa Hufanaga went down with a season-ending injury, rookie Ji’Ayir Brown stepped up. Brown missed the last two games, giving Ryan a chance to step up in his place as well.
Ryan has played in five games this season. According to ESPN, he has had 13 total tackles, nine solo. While this is not much statistically, head coach Kyle Shanahan had high praise for what Ryan has done with the team. While Brown should be back in the Divisional Round, there is a chance that Ryan will get the start with the momentum he has. At the least, Ryan will be used in the game. Here is what Shanahan had to say about who will be utilized in the playoffs.
Kyle Shanahan doesn’t say specifically that Ji’Ayir Brown will start when he returns from injury – praised veteran safety Logan Ryan
“We’ll see how Ji’Ayir is when he comes back because [he] was playing at a real high level to before he got hurt. But I’m real happy with Logan.”
— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) January 9, 2024
Ryan was a solid player for Rutgers where he played for three years, from 2010 to 2012. He ended up with 170 total tackles, 111 solo, and 11.5 tackles for loss, according to Sports Reference. He else ended up with a half-sack. As a defensive back, he also had seven interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
These two former Rutgers players never overlapped at the time. Ryan’s final year was one year before Joseph-Day joining the team. But they are together now on the 49ers. It will be interesting to see how often these two former Rutgers players are used in the divisional round.
Tampa Bay Buccanneers – Christian Izien
Rookie safety, Christian Izien has been an underrated player this season. At least to the general NFL fans. He has played in all 17 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, starting in four games. Izien will end the regular season with 65 total tackles, 47 solo, and two passes defended, according to ESPN. As for turnovers, he has forced two interceptions and one fumble. Izien was taken as an undrafted free agent but earned his role with the Buccs.
For the past couple of seasons, the Rutgers defense has stepped up. Izien was a reason for that. The defensive back was with the team for four years, from 2019 until his final season in 2022. In those four years, he had 297 total tackles, 189 solo, and 15 tackles for loss, according to Sports Reference. He also had 1.5 sacks. 2020 was his only season to force an interception, but he ended up with four that year. Izien also had 15 passes defended and three fumble recovers, which also happened in 2020.
Izien is a possible gem for the Buccanneers. He may not be used often in the playoffs, but it will also not be surprising if he gets snaps against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night.
Other Rutgers Players Possible
These are just the former Rutgers players that have had snaps this season. There are other players, such as tight end, Tyler Kroft who has been listed as inactive this season. If he is healthy, and the Dolphins feel they need him, he is another former Scarlet Knight who can step up, though that does not seem likely.
Aside from the Miami Dolphins and Kroft, some other teams in the playoffs without former Rutgers players are the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, and the Philadelphia Eagles. Next up will be to watch for if any of these Scarlet Knights get a chance to play in the Super Bowl.