The New York Jets landed a do-it-all, blue-collar defender in linebacker Blake Cashman, their fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
Coming out of high school, Cashman was a mere afterthought in the recruiting world. He ended up walking on at Minnesota, and wasted little time making all the programs who failed to offer him ma scholarship look silly.
Cashman eventually earned a scholarship with the Golden Gophers, establishing himself as exactly the kind of player any coach would want to build a defense around. His versatile skill set, nonstop motor, consistent play and reliable leadership quickly made him one of the team’s cornerstone players.
Still, Cashman found himself in a familiar situation after leaving Minnesota, entering the predraft process with little fanfare. Then, the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine happened.
Cashman dominated at this year’s crazy NFL job interview for incoming rookies, finishing among the top performers at his position in multiple drills. He showed off the impressive athleticism that made him one of the best linebackers in the Big Ten.
But despite his incredible journey from walk-on to star linebacker, his stellar showing at the combine, and even a fairly weak draft class at his position, Cashman still managed to fall all the way to the fifth round of the 2019 draft. The Jets wisely snatched him up, giving them a bargain of a player halfway through the draft’s final day.
For Cashman, he’s got no problem proving himself again and again with his play on the field:
He's officially an NFL player now, but Blake Cashman hasn't lost the mentality he developed as a walk-on at Minnesota.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) May 21, 2019
All the hard work and sacrifice that I’ve put in, it’s a dream come true. It’s everything. It’s what we’ve been thinking about since we put on the pads for the first time.
Being a walk-on, it brings you a different mentality. It brings you a different approach to the game, and you definitely walk into the building with a chip on your shoulder to get better. It’s definitely one of those things, as a walk-on, you’ve gotta respect the process and walk into the football building and prove to your teammates every day, prove to your coaches every day why you should be there, and why you’re worth taking that spot on the team.
The addition of C.J. Mosley in free agency obviously stole the headlines, but following the trade of former first-round pick Darron Lee, the Jets have a need for a young linebacker to step up and establish himself as a quality contributor.
Cashman has all the physical and mental tools to be that player, and he should make a significant impact sooner than later.