Surprisingly, only two Louisville Cardinals were selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. The program’s impressive three year streak of having a first round selection was expected to end, but the Cards were expected have quite a few late round selections.
Heading into the draft, it wouldn’t have been a big surprise if tight end Cole Hikutini was the first player off the board. Unfortunately, Hikutini never heard his name called. A knee injury at the end of the 2016 season led to Hikutini’s draft stock taking a hit. He was held out of Louisville’s bowl game against LSU, wasn’t able to play in the Senior Bowl and could only bench press at the NFL Draft Combine.
Hikutini later signed a free agent deal with the San Francisco 49ers and appears to be making the most of the situation. The Niners still have three weeks left in preseason play, but Hikutini appears to be making quite an impression and has a good shot at making the roster.
Undrafted TE Cole Hikutini is getting closer and closer to a roster lock each day. His speed is beating linebackers over the middle
— Kevin Jones (@Mr_KevinJones) August 4, 2017
KNBR.com reported last week that Hikutini had the best performance out of the tight ends in practice. He’s battling veterans Vance McDonald and Logan Paulsen as well as rookie George Kittle, who was San Francisco’s fifth round pick in the 2017 draft.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) August 5, 2017
Hikutini didn’t see action in San Francisco’s first preseason game last week, but is expected to get an opportunity this Saturday when they take on the Denver Broncos.