If you’re like me, you grew up playing Tecmo Super Bowl for the NES. You also were incredibly happy to be a Buffalo Bills fan while playing the game, since they were pretty much unstoppable. That video game familiarity may also have made you pretty excited when the Bills made Ricky Proehl’s son their seventh-round selection in this year’s NFL Draft.
In the latest installment in our “90 players in 90 days” series, we profile the second Proehl to wear number 87 on an NFL team.
Name: Austin Proehl
Height/Weight: 5’10” 175 lbs.
College: North Carolina
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Proehl’s four-year rookie contract totals $2,529,070, and even includes a $69,070 signing bonus. His cap hit in 2018 will be $497,267 if he makes the roster.
2017 Recap: Proehl’s senior season at North Carolina was a disappointment, as he only caught 21 passes for 337 yards and 1 touchdown. He compiled those numbers in only six games, as he missed time due to a broken left clavicle suffered against Duke in September. He was able to return from the injury, which was initially thought to be a season-ender, in time for UNC’s senior night. He also ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the NFL’s regional combine in Tampa, Florida.
Positional outlook: Proehl finds himself in the middle of a heated competition at wide receiver, as he is one of thirteen players currently vying for a roster spot. Kelvin Benjamin and Jeremy Kerley are essentially locks to make the roster, and although Zay Jones is currently sidelined by offseason knee surgery, it’s likely that he will make the final roster, as well. Andre Holmes, Rod Streater, Kaelin Clay, Cam Phillips, Brandon Reilly, Malachi Dupre, Robert Foster, Ray-Ray McCloud, and Corey Coleman round out the wide receiver contingent.
2018 Offseason: After a strong rookie minicamp, Proehl’s performance has been overshadowed by players like Cam Phillips early on in training camp. Phillips injured his groin during Buffalo’s night practice at New Era Field on August 3, however, which could lead to more opportunities for Proehl.
2018 season outlook: Proehl will play his first professional game against his hometown team, as the Bills host the Carolina Panthers on August 9. If he can use his speed and route running ability to gain consistent separation, he may be able to create distance between himself and the other receiver in camp. His skill set is perfect for what the Bills need, as they certainly lack speed at the receiver position overall, but the lack of buzz around Proehl in camp is at least a bit concerning. The preseason games should provide multiple opportunities for Proehl to prove that he belongs.