For the first time since 2016, the Colorado Buffaloes were shut out in the NFL Draft.
It didn’t take long for one of CU’s top prospects to land a free agent deal, however.
Shortly after the conclusion of the seven-round draft on Saturday, former CU linebacker Nate Landman agreed to a free agent opportunity with the Atlanta Falcons.
Outside linebacker Carson Wells, offensive lineman Kary Kutsch, defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson and tight end Matt Lynch were among the other former Buffs hoping for an NFL opportunity.
Landman and Wells were both projected as potential late-round picks, but were not among the 262 players selected.
CU had at least one player drafted every year from 2017-2021. Prior to that stretch, the Buffs had a two-run run, in 2015 and 2016, with no players selected.
A four-time All-Pac-12 performer during his five seasons at CU, Landman participated in the NFL Combine in March. He pulled a hamstring during his 40-yard sprint, however, finishing with a time of 4.86 seconds.
At CU’s pro day on March 16, Landman did run the 40, but had 20 reps on the 225-pound bench press, which quieted some concerns about the shoulder injury that sidelined him for the final five games of the 2021 season. Landman also finished the 2020 season on the sidelines after a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.
When healthy, however, Landman was one of the most productive linebackers in the Pac-12 and he was a two-time semifinalist for the Butkus Award, which is presented to the top linebacker in the country each season.
During his CU career, Landman played in 47 games, including 36 as a starter. He is tied for fifth in CU history with 409 career tackles, while ranking second in unassisted tackles (285) and sixth in tackles for loss (41). He led the Buffs in tackles three years in a row from 2018-20.
Asked on pro day what he could bring to an NFL team, Landman said, “I’ll bring a leader; someone who can compete in all phases of defense and special teams. A guy like I’ve been here – I had to prove myself in every facet and I think I can come contribute early. I’m a guy that’s gonna get the locker room going and just do whatever it takes to help the team win games.”
Wells racked up 15.5 sacks and 38 tackles for loss during his CU career and was one of the more dominant edge rushers in the Pac-12 the past two seasons. He led the country in tackles for loss in 2020 and was second in the Pac-12 in TFLs last season.
Kutsch started 28 of his 40 games with the Buffs, including all 12 games last year as left guard. He earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention.
Johnson played four seasons at CU and compiled 17 sacks and 34 tackles for loss. He went undrafted and unsigned in 2021 and was able to obtain a waiver to return to the Buffs last season. In eight games, he had 28 tackles, two sacks and five tackles for loss.
Lynch is a former UCLA quarterback who converted to tight end and walked on at CU in 2020. He played two seasons with the Buffs, filling a role at tight end as a holder on place kicks.