Drafted or not, UMass DE Da’Sean Downey hoping for a good fit as he starts pro career

  • Toledo running back Terry Swanson (2) evades Massachusetts linebacker Zeke Edmonds, left, and linebacker Da'Sean Downey during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. Toledo won 51-35. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) AP

  • UMass defensive end Da’Sean Downey could hear his name called in the NFL Draft Sunday, MARIO TERRANA / UMASS ATHLETICS

Published: 4/27/2018 11:15:30 PM

Da’Sean Downey is facing the same internal tug-of-war that so many players in his position face.

Varying scouting services project the UMass defensive end as either a seventh-round choice in the NFL Draft or any undrafted player who’ll likely sign as a free agent after the draft.

Not being drafted means he and his agent can pick the situation where he has the best chance of making the team. But like every player he’s dreamed of hearing his name called on ESPN.

“I don’t care too much. It would be a lifelong dream to hear my name called, but for me I’d rather be in the perfect fit than be drafted to a team where I’m behind a whole bunch of players they already have lined up,” he said. “I want to go compete and be in the right situation.”

Downey, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound White Plains, New York, native showed a nose for making big plays throughout his college career, but he was able to do it consistently during his senior year. His 20 tackles for a loss was the second most in program history and his 1.82 tackles per game for a loss were sixth in all of the FBS.

He finished with 58 tackles and six sacks. He’s projected to be an outside linebacker as a pro.

Downey signed with Ahmed Johnson, a Miami-based agent from the firm of Diaz, Reus & Targ. Johnson put Downey up in Orlando, Florida, where he worked out with currently NFL players and other draft hopefuls.

He spent a lot of time learning from Green Bay Packer linebacker Ahmad Brooks among others.

“I told them my situation and picked their brains trying to be the best pro I can be,” said Downey, who has also been regularly on the phone with Elijah Wilkinson, the UMass alum who made the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent last year.

In addition to UMass pro day, he had private workouts with the Jets, Giants and San Francisco 49ers.

Downey spent most of this week back in Amherst to see his friends and teammates one more time and planned to be at home in New York for the draft. He could be in somebody’s rookie camp next month.

“It feels surreal. I’ve watched the draft every year. This year I feel at lot more engaged,” he said.


CBSsports.com’s draft prospect described him as:

“Somewhat undersized twitchy, edge-bender. Likely will take him a while acclimating to the strength of NFL offensive tackles. Uses his hands well just not super-consistent utilizing them. Good speed and athletic traits.”

NFL Draft Bible’s scouting report said his 2015 arrest may have hurt him initially, but not enough for teams to cross him off once he was reinstated to the UMass roster:

“A lengthy, athletic, hybrid pass-rusher, Downey possesses a lean frame, which is reminiscent of Dion Jordan, to go along with the quickness and instincts to play multiple positions.

“He has lined up at both defensive end and linebacker, while roaming both sides of the field and keeping opposing offenses guessing prior to the snap. He takes good angles in pursuit, has done an adequate job of shedding blocks and demonstrated strong wrap-up tackling fundamentals.

“He was charged with assault and battery causing serious bodily injury in 2015, which is probably why he was omitted from the all-star circuit—the police report describes the gruesome incident—his suspension from the football team and housing removal were deferred and he was allowed to return to the program. Despite his off the field red flag, nearly every NFL team has passed through Amherst to get a look-see at Downey, who finished with 34 tackles for loss, including 20 tackles for loss as a senior and 11 sacks over his final two seasons. He projects and as an undrafted free agent whose frame and upside has intriguing room for development.”

ProPlayersInsiders.com ranked him as the No. 226 player available and projected him as a seventh round pick.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage

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