For University of Rhode Island wide receivers Isaiah Coulter and Aaron Parker and lineman Kyle Murphy dreams have turned to reality as they now begin their National Football League careers.
Coulter, yesterday, became the first Rhody Ram to be drafted by an NFL team in more than three decades when the Houston Texans took him in the fifth round. Parker was tapped by the Dallas Cowboys and Murphy by the New York Giants after the draft ended, both as undrafted free agents.
The three were projected to be either drafted or selected as free agent rookies. After not being selected in the draft, Parker was signed by the Dallas Cowboys. Later in the night reports surfaced on the NY Giants website that Murphy was rumored to be signed, and Murphy was reporting his signing on social media sites.
Coulter was the 171st overall pick. He was the only wide receiver selected by the Texans, which did not make a selection in either of the final two rounds of the draft.
Parker was among a list of 13 free agents that Dallas signed following the draft. The Cowboys first pick in the draft was wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who played at Oklahoma. They also signed another wide receiver as an undrafted free agent, Stephen Guidry, who played at Mississippi.
Murphy joins a few young linemen competing and working to improve what the Giants have seen as a major weakness, the offensive line. The Giants first pick in the draft, number four overall, was offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, University of Georgia. In the third round they took offensive tackle Matt Peart from the University of Connecticut, and in the third round they picked Oregon guard Shane Lemieux.
Coulter, Parker and Murphy were listed among the top NFL prospects in the FCS division.
The six-foot three-inch, 198-pound Coulter was only one of two underclassmen in the FCS who received early entry into the NFL draft. The other was Monmouth University running back Pete Guerriero, whose name had yet to be called as of this morning. Coulter was a second team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection in 2019.
Parker is a six-foot two-inch, 209-pound wide receiver who this past year was a second team Associated Press FCS All-American and first-team All Colonial Athletic Conference selection.
The six-foot three-inch, 316-pound Murphy is seen as an offensive guard prospect in the NFL. At URI he played tackle, where was selected in 2019 to the second team Associated Press All-American team, and first-team All-Colonial Conference. As a junior in 2018, he was first team all-conference. During his college career he has played mostly tackle, some at guard, and one game at center.
Of note, former Rhody kicker Justin Rohrwasswer was drafted in the fifth round by the New England Patriots. Rohrwasswer has spend the last to years at Marshall.
The last URI Ram selected in the NFL draft was Bob White, a center-guard, who was drafted in 1986 by the New York Jets and played for one season in the NFL Several other URI grads have made it to the NFL, either as draft choices or free agents. The most successful was Steve Furness, a defensive tackle/end drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fifth round in 1972.
Furness went on to play in the NFL for 10 years, all but one with the Steelers, and was part of the vaunted Steel Curtain, among the most feared defensive lines in the history of football. Furness, who would serve as a sub and starter during various parts of his career, played alongside the likes of “Mean” Joe Greene, L. C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes, and Dwight White.