It wasn’t a great year for Mizzou football, to say the least. But Mizzou fans are nothing if not supportive of their own, and this year there was plenty of reasons for optimism for some former Tigers starring in the NFL.
A quick rundown of some of the former Tigers’ top performers:
Giants edge rusher Markus Golden
Golden will forever be one of my favorite Tigers (editor’s note- me too). I was thrilled to see the success he had this year in New York. If you remember, Golden had a breakout season for the Cardinals back in 2016 when he finished the year third in the NFL with 12.5 sacks. The following year he tore his ACL, and he was largely ineffective in 2018 as a result.
Golden went into free agency as a man coming off back-to-back underwhelming seasons. He signed a one-year prove-it deal with the Giants, and prove it he did. He finished this season with tied for 15th in the league with 10 sacks, and sixth in the league with 27 QB hits.
Those 10 sacks were enough for Golden to earn himself a $1 million bonus. Now Golden gets to hit free agency once again as a 29-year old pass rusher with multiple double-digit sack seasons. Golden made a bet on himself, and he won in a big way.
Broncos quarterback Drew Lock
I’m partial to Golden, but Lock was undoubtedly the headliner for Mizzou’s alumni in the NFL. The former Tigers QB earned himself an offseason as the guy for the Broncos. Things started off shaky with a rough pre-season, and a thumb injury kept him out for the first 12 weeks of the season. Lock made up for lost time quickly.
He finished the year 4-1 as the Broncos starter with his only loss coming against a Chiefs team that had itself on a roll. He finished with seven touchdowns and three interceptions, and a vote of confidence from John Elway after the season that he showed enough to earn himself an opportunity to be the Broncos starting quarterback for the long haul.
Bills center Mitch Morse
Morse was part of a revamped offensive line for the Bills this season that helped invigorate some life into what had been a dormant offense. If you’ve followed Morse’s NFL career at all, you know he’s battled a number of injuries - including multiple concussions.
The biggest positive to come out of his 2019 season was a mostly clean bill of health. Morse started all 16 games for the Bills this season, and he was a big part of the success the Bills had in their first playoff game against the Texans with blocks like this.
Other former Tigers deserving some love:
Broncos center Connor McGovern, Browns defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson & Titans long snapper Beau Brinkley
McGovern made 16 starts for the first time in his NFL career as the center for the Broncos. He missed just one snap all season long. Fun fact: McGovern snapped the ball to three different quarterbacks this season. Those quarterbacks ranged from 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-6. According to Pro Football Focus, he had just one inaccurate snap.
Big Shel had an underrated season for an underwhelming Browns team. He finished the year as one of Pro Football Focus’ top graded interior defensive linemen.
I wanted to give some love to Titans long snapper Beau Brinkley because his team is still alive in the divisional round. What a miraculous finish to the season for Tennessee.