No football player from West Point heard their name called during the 2020 NFL Draft, but after the first-ever virtual draft finished on Saturday, three former Army football players signed contracts with NFL squads as undrafted free agents.
Elijah Riley, Philadelphia Eagles
At 6-foot and 205 pounds, the Army defensive back closed his 2019 season with 79 tackles, (55 solo), eight tackles for losses, three forced fumbles and four sacks. Riley, a native of Port Jefferson, N.Y., performed well in Army’s most difficult match-ups — including a career-high of nine tackles against Oklahoma in overtime in 2018 and three forced fumbles, one sack and recovery against Michigan in 2019.
He also received an invitation to the East-West Shrine game this past January and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2019. During his career of 44 games, Riley totaled 201 tackles, 17.5 tackles for losses, 6.5 sacks, 28 pass break-ups, two touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Connor Slomka, Jacksonville Jaguars
As a fullback, Slomka rushed for 658 yards during his senior season. He also averaged 4.4 yards per-attempt over 149 carries and scored eight touchdowns. A native of Wexford, Pa., he rushed 274 times for 1,208 yards and 17 touchdowns during his four years at Army.
His season high’s include 110 rushing yards against Morgan State and three rushing touchdowns against VMI, with his longest rush of 38 yards coming against Georgia State.
Cole Christiansen, Los Angeles Chargers
A Suffolk, Va., native, Christiansen started for 12 games as a linebacker with 112 tackles (63 solo), 3.5 tackles for losses and 2.5 sacks this past season. He also received an invite to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl where he totaled five tackles, four of them as solo efforts.
A two-time team captain, Christiansen was named a Lott IMPACT Trophy Semifinalist and part of the 2019 All-Independent First Team.
The trio are the latest Army graduates to sign NFL contracts since the policy allowing athletes to delay their commissioning and play professionally was enacted in 2019.
The staff at Against All Enemies has covered the topic of Service Academy athletes delaying their service time to play pro sports several times in the past. Read up by clicking here, here, here and here.
“We are extremely proud of Elijah, Cole and Connor,” Mike Buddie, the Director of Athletics at Army West Point, said in a statement. “They have both earned this opportunity through their hard work and determination while representing the Corps of Cadets on the gridiron.”
Riley, Slomka and Christiansen join other service academy graduates who signed to the NFL Saturday, including Air Force CB Zane Lewis who signed with the Arizona Cardinals and Navy QB Malcolm Perry, who was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round of the draft.