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Bryce Huff keeping undrafted mindset after major payday with Eagles

Bryce Huff keeping undrafted mindset after major payday with Eagles originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

There were 255 players selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Bryce Huff was not one of them.

So even after becoming a very rich man this week, putting pen to paper on his three-year, $51.5 million contract, Huff said being undrafted is something that will “definitely” never leave him.

“Just the fact that you came out and not a single team thought you were worthy of a draft pick, it kind of just stays in the back of your mind,” Huff said on Thursday during his introductory press conference with the Eagles.

“Even with having a new contract, just knowing that most of the guys on the team were drafted and were pinned as automatically just better than you. It’s definitely going to stick with me.”

Heck, with Huff it’s even deeper. Coming out of Memphis as a senior, Huff wasn’t invited to the combine and he didn’t even get an invite to the Senior Bowl, which is held in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama.

Huff has had to work for everything.

And because of his undrafted status, it took a while for Huff to earn a spot in the Jets’ rotation but eventually he did and he began to shine. Even though he had just 7 1/2 sacks through his first three seasons, there were some pretty strong signs in the advanced numbers that foretold a breakout season.

Huff got that breakout season in 2023, leading a good Jets defensive line with 10 sacks while playing just 42% of their defensive snaps.

How did Huff pull that off?

“Just being consistent as far as my work and my process throughout the week,” he said. “Really honing in on my opponent’s weaknesses, listening to my coaches as far as a rush plan, working together with my teammates on the D-line and just working like a team to beat the opposing offensive line as opposed to just winning 1-on-1s.”

While Huff’s per-snap win-rate was among the league leaders over the last two seasons with the Jets, he still didn’t play a ton of snaps. In fact, his career high in defensive snap percentage was 51% back in 2021. For reference, the Eagles’ two starting edge rushers in 2023, Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat, played 74% and 71% last season. Both played over 800 snaps in 2023.

Here’s a look at Huff’s usage during his career with New York:

2020: 295 snaps (30%)
2021: 337 snaps (51%)
2022: 191 snaps (20%)
2023: 480 snaps (42%)

Now that he’s in Philly on a $17 million per-season contract with the Eagles, Huff will presumably be a starter and should be expected to smash his career-high in snaps.

“I feel like I’m capable of taking on a bigger role and really doing as much as I can to help us win on Sundays,” Huff said.

There are of course questions about how Huff will handle a bigger workload but he won’t be able to answer them before the games come this season. Until then, he’ll just be preparing and learning a new defensive scheme led by Vic Fangio. Huff seems excited to play for Fangio and said the veteran DC has always put his players in very good positions.

Eagles fans might already be familiar with Huff thanks to his performance against the Birds on Oct. 15 last year. Huff had 1 1/2 sacks against the Eagles in a 20-14 win. His full sack came rushing against backup right tackle Jack Driscoll and his half sack came from the other side when he sacked Jalen Hurts as the quarterback stepped up into the pocket.

Huff on Thursday said he feels comfortable rushing from either side of the line, which is important because there’s some uncertainty about the future of Reddick and Sweat in Philly. If either one in traded, you can go ahead and slot in Huff on the opposite side as a starter.

When asked what made the Eagles such a good fit for him, Huff specifically mentioned the Eagles culture and the team’s recent success. He thinks he’ll fit right in.

But the Eagles weren’t the only team after him. The Jets, Giants, Commanders, Vikings and Seahawks also came calling this offseason.

Four years after all 32 teams passed on Huff in the draft, he was a pretty popular guy in free agency this week.

“It meant a lot to me, just knowing that I came in playing for pennies, so to speak, in comparison with other guys at my position,” Huff said. “And finally being able to sign a deal and solidify myself as one of the top (guys) at my position group is really cool.”

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