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Countdown to Colts: Offensive Tackle Jeremy Vujnovich

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Fourth of July to all and great blessings to another day that we inch closer to the beginning of 2018 NFL season. With 67 days to go, let’s take a look at offensive tackle Jeremy Vujnovich.

The Journey

A long journey for Vujnovich to the NFL began in Division III football with the Louisiana College Wildcats. A reserve in his freshman season, Vujnovich would have to wait until 2010 to get a permanent starting job and wouldn’t look back, playing in thirty straight games. In his junior year, Vujnovich was one of the best offensive linemen in his conference and was awarded First Team ASC All-Conference.

Vujnovich was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Green Bay Packers in 2014. He would spend the first two years of his NFL career floating between free agency and the Green Bay practice squad before eventually being cut for a final time in May of 2016.

Three days after being cut, Vujnovich was signed by the Indianapolis Colts. He would spend his first season in Indy bouncing between the active roster and practice squad, appearing in two games. His workload would increase drastically in the 2017 season when he’d start in all 16 games for the Colts, primarily at left guard. Chris Ballard re-signed Vujnovich to a one-year, $630,000 contract in April.

The Fit on the Roster

While Vujnovich was a significant part of the Colts’ offensive line last season — mostly due to his availability — the overturn in the trenches may not play into his favor for the upcoming season. Left guard is permanently filled with first round pick Quenton Nelson, and the battle for right tackle list several names with either more experience or higher potential than Vujnovich.

The Louisiana native is more than capable of earning a role as a utility offensive lineman for the next season, but he definitely has his work cut out for him. Free agent addition Matt Slauson has 10 years of experience he brings from the Chargers, young guard Jack Mewhort has a high ceiling if he can stay healthy and the versatility of Joe Haeg and Deyshawn Bond all place a higher value than what Vujnovich brings to the table.

Moving Forward

While I expect Vujnovich to be in the mix for a roster spot at the end of the summer, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see him demoted back to the practice squad or out of the organization completely by the beginning of the season. He did hold significant value in part of the 2017 offensive line, but that was also one of the more shaky position groups in all of football. Before we say he was even that great last season, let Pro Football Focus’ grade of 34.1 — the 77th highest grade for active guards last season — bring us back down to earth.

At the end of the day, Vujnovich gets the boot in favor of promising young talent and veterans with more high-level experience against high-level talent. Vujnovich’s story is a great one, to make the NFL from Division III football is no small feat, but that also means he’s had no prior experience — aside from last season — against NFL-level talent. The end of the road in Indianapolis should hit for Vujnovich by the end of the summer.