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How last year’s Illinois stars are doing in the NFL

Spoon isn’t alone at the next level.

Minnesota Vikings v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

If you’re an Illini fan and you even casually follow the NFL, then I’m sure you saw Devon Witherspoon put on an enormous performance Monday night in front of a national audience, as the Seattle Seahawks trounced the New York Giants by a score of 24-3.

Although this was clearly Witherspoon’s biggest performance yet, he’s been making a name for himself throughout the season. So far, Witherspoon has 16 total tackles and 4 PDEF to go along with the 2 sacks and the interception that he earned on Monday night.

Devon Witherspoon is clearly a stud whose stock is only going up in the coming years.

But let’s take a look at some other members of the ‘22 Illini squad who are still playing in the pros.

Chase Brown

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The Doak Walker Award finalist has so far appeared somewhat sparingly for the Cincinnati Bengals. And somewhat surprisingly, he’s made most of his impact as a coverage player on special teams.

Chase Brown has only recorded one rushing attempt this year, which was a 2-yard rush in Week 2 against the Baltimore Ravens. He also has a pass reception for no gain.

On special teams, Brown has one solo tackle and one assist. According to the team website, Brown is currently the third-string running back behind Joe Mixon and Trayveon Williams.

Sydney Brown

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Sydney has had a bit more of an impact for his team, the Philadelphia Eagles, but he’s also still trying to find consistent playing time and reps. Through 3 games played, Sydney Brown has logged 3 total tackles and a PDEF.

That tipped pass of his against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was impressive, and it saved a touchdown in a key spot.

Hopefully that athletic play is a sign of things to come for Sydney Brown. Like his brother, I’d expect him to be utilized more and more as the season goes on.

Quan Martin

NFL: Preseason-Baltimore Ravens at Washington Commanders Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After exploding onto the scene for the Illini last season, it only made sense that Quan would hear his name called during the NFL Draft. Sure enough, the Washington Commanders picked him up in the second round, and I doubt they have any buyer’s remorse.

Quan has seen limited reps at cornerback behind Kendall Fuller and has only recorded one tackle so far. But he’s made himself a staple on special teams and is likely going to see his workload increase.

Martin also picked up an interception during the preseason (pictured above).

Alex Palczewski

NFL: Preseason-Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The long-tenured Illini veteran Palczewski wound up making the roster for the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent. He was placed on the short-term IR on Aug. 31 and has yet to make an appearance for the Broncos.

Since he’s on the short-term IR, he will be eligible to return to the active roster as soon as next week.

Aside from those shown above, it’s also worth mentioning that Tommy DeVito has landed on the practice squad for the New York Giants. A few other players, including Kendall Smith, Isaac Darkangelo, Alex Pihlstrom, and Calvin Avery have played for NFL teams during the preseason but are no longer listed on NFL rosters.

We’re always pulling for our former Illini to succeed in the pros, and I’m sure this is just the beginning of successful careers for these rookies.