After the dust had settled on the 2020 NFL draft, the Las Vegas Raiders signed former Michigan State defensive tackle Mike Panasiuk this week.
Did the fact that the Raiders didn’t draft a player at his position help make Panasiuk’s decision to sign with them as an undrafted free agent any easier?
“They could have drafted 12 defensive tackles in front of me, I wouldn’t care,” Panasiuk told me in a phone interview this week. “I’d still go there, trying to kick ass and do whatever it takes to make the team … I’m a defensive tackle, but really, I’m a football player. I’d play fullback or offensive line if they want me to. I just want to make the team.”
Michigan State DL Mike Panasiuk signed Las Vegas Raiders— NFL Draft Diamonds (@DraftDiamonds) April 25, 2020
Sounds like a guy that Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are trying to fill the Las Vegas roster with, right?
It makes sense that Panasiuk is one of the undrafted free agents that agreed to terms with the Raiders. (As yet, the team hasn’t made any of their undrafted free-agents signings official.)
But the Raiders were on Panasiuk, a disruptive defensive tackle from Michigan State, well before the draft.
What type of player are the Raiders getting?
“I’m just a tough football player, who is an old-school guy,” the Chicago native, who had 15.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in the past two seasons, said. “I’ll put my blood, sweat and tears into it.”
Panasiuk doesn’t know any of the current Raiders, but he has shared a coach with Raiders’ second-year defensive end Maxx Crosby. He, of course, is also well aware of former Michigan rival Maurice Hurst, who will not be a position mate.
“I’m so excited to get going,” Panasiuk said. “It’s a good fit for me.”
Panasiuk’s brother, Jacub, is a defensive end at Michigan State and will be draft eligible next year. Their parents are from Poland and Mike said his mother wasn’t quite sure to make of it when he told her was headed to the NFL.
“She was vacuuming,” Panasiuk said. “She asked if she could start vacuuming again after I told her I was going to the NFL.”
Surely Raiders’ fans will be a lot more excited if Panasiuk makes the team. Here are some highlights of the gritty, strong defensive tackle: