Sought-After Undrafted Rookie Ditches Colts to Sign With Bills: Report

Ryan Van Demark

@ryan_vandemark/Instagram Former Huskies offensive tackles will start the 2022 NFL with the Bills practice squad.

The Buffalo Bills have one of the most complete rosters heading into the 2022 NFL season and even the team’s practice squad is stacked with talent. The competition for players getting elevated to the active roster is incredibly high, but the mere possibility was apparently good enough for rookie offensive tackle Ryan Van Demark.

Van Demark, who’s 6-foot-6 and 307 pounds, was one of the most sought-after undrafted free agents this offseason. According to NFL Network‘s Tom Pelissero, the 24-year-old received 20 offers after not hearing his name called during the 2022 NFL Draft.

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The University of Connecticut alum, who scored an impressive a 9.45 RAS out a possible 10.00 athletically, ultimately landed with the Indianapolis Colts. The franchise gave him a fully guaranteed $175,000 signing bonus — “the highest of the team’s undrafted rookie crop,” per Colts Wire‘s Kevin Hickey. While that seemed to indicate Van Demark was a lock for the active roster, he struggled through preseason and was subsequently released on Tuesday, August 30.

The Colts offered the left tackle a spot on their practice squad, but according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, he turned the offer down in order to take his talents to Buffalo. Garafolo tweeted that Van Demark “is signing with the #Bills’ practice squad, per agents @NessMugrabi and @davidcanter. The #Colts offered him a role on their practice squad to stay in Indy but he opted to head to Buffalo.”

Van Demark Worked Hard to Gain Weight Before the Draft

The former Huskies captain worked hard to get his body to be NFL-ready. Indy Star’s Joel A. Erickson reported that Van Roten was 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds in high school, but grew two inches and 45 pounds just before the start of his freshman year at UConn. When offensive line coach Frank Giufre told Van Roten during his junior that he could possibly make it to the NFL, he got serious about putting on more weight.

“The big tackle ate breakfast, then a snack, then lunch, then another snack, then two dinners every day, and he’d often set an alarm for 2 a.m. to wake up and chow down a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” Erickson reported.

Now, that he’s reached past the 300-pound mark, “Finally in my frame, 100%, I haven’t peaked yet,” Van Demark told the Indy Star. “Not even close. I’m still learning everything.”

The rookie, however, still can’t believe he’s in the conversation to play in the NFL. “If you asked me in high school or my freshman year of college, I would have laughed at you,” Van Demark said. “I always believed in myself, and I always bet on myself, and it ended up working out for me.”

Several Recently Cut Bills’ Players Were Re-Signed to the Practice Team

While four recently cut Bills’ players were immediately snatched up off the waiver wire on Wednesday, several men will remain in Orchard Park as part of the team’s practice squad.

Spectrum News 1 Buffalo host Jon Scott reported that the following players will be joining Van Demark on the Bills’ practice team: Quarterback Matt Barkley, offensive lineman Greg Mancz, offensive lineman Alec Anderson, running back Raheem Blackshear, running back Duke Johnson, wide receiver Tavon Austin, wide receiver Tanner Gentry, wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins, defensive end Mike Love, defensive tackle, Brandin Bryant, Defensive tackle C.J. Brewer, linebacker Joe Giles-Harris, and defensive back Ja’Marcus Ingram.

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