One thing that the Pitt football program has always been able to use as a recruiting tool is their ability to put players in the NFL.
As 2019 NFL rosters are being set, Pat Narduzzi will be able to sell that point again as a large number of former Pitt Panthers will start the season on NFL rosters.
By our count, 16 former Panthers will start the season on NFL rosters (53 man roster/practice squad).
Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams: The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and NFL Networks Top NFL Player will be looking to get his team back to the Super Bowl and win it.
Dion Lewis, RB, Tennessee Titans: With starter Derrick Henry banged up (calf), Lewis will start the season as Mike Vrabel’s featured back. The former 5th round pick in 2011, has gained over 2,100 yards and 147 catches in his 7 year career.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: McCoy was in the news this weekend as he was released by the Buffalo Bills and signed on Sunday with his his former head coach Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs. Shady was drafted back in 2009 and has been one of the NFL’s best backs rushing for over 10,000 yards, catching 475 passes and scoring 69 TD’s. Barring an injury, McCoy will likely serve as the backup to Damien Williams.
Brian O’Neill, OT, Minnesota Vikings: The 2018 2nd round pick is the starting right tackle for the Vikings.
Avonte Maddox, CB, Philadelphia Eagles: Maddox was drafted in the 4th round last year by Philadelphia and developed into one of their most reliable and productive defensive backs. In his rookie season, Maddox collected two interceptions.
Jabaal Sheard, DE, Indianapolis Colts: Sheard has carved out a long and productive NFL career. The former 2011 2nd round pick of the Cleveland Browns has 47 career sacks and 13 forced fumbles.
Ryan Lewis, CB, Indianapolis Colts: Lewis is entering his 3rd season on an NFL roster after being picked up by the Colts. Lewis signed with Arizona as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and also played with the Patriots that year. In 2018, Lewis spent the year with the Buffalo Bills.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: After receiving a big contract extension in the off-season (4-years/$43 million), Boyd will start the season as the Bengals top wide receiver until A.J. Green returns from his ankle injury.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: One of the NFL’s greatest receivers is returning for his 15th season. The future 1st ballot Hall of Famer has over 16,000 yards and 116 touchdowns during his legendary career.
Andy Lee, P, Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald’s former teammate at Pitt is also entering his 15th season.
Jordan Whitehead, S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The former Central Valley star is back for a second season with Tampa after an impressive rookie season in 2018.
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Following the departure of LeVeon Bell, it’s Conner’s turn once again to be the lead back with the Steelers. Conner is looking to expand on his Pro Bowl 2018 season and eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the first time.
Nate Peterman, QB, Oakland Raiders: At least for now, Peterman is one of three quarterbacks in Oakland’s opening day roster.
Qadree Ollison, RB, Atlanta Falcons: After leading the Falcons in rushing this preseason, Ollison earned his way on the Falcons 2019 roster. Head coach Dan Quinn decided to start the season with five running backs.
J.P. Holtz, TE, Washington Redskins
Dewayne Hendrix, DE, Miami Dolphins