WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.- Nikita Whitlock, Justin Jackson and Zach Thompson have each signed free agent deals following the 2014 NFL Draft and will join their respective teams for offseason workouts immediately.
Nikita Whitlock--Cincinatti Bengals
One of the top defensive linemen in the ACC, Whitlock became just the seventh Demon Deacon to earn First or Second Team All-ACC honors three times, capped by a First Team selection following the 2013 season.
The 5-11, 250-pound Whitlock was a stalwart player on the interior of the defensive line, racking up 20 sacks in just 46 appearances over his four years in the old gold and black. While he was certainly a solid player in his first three seasons, the former Demon Deacon truly broke out during his senior campaign in 2013, recording 82 tackles (19 for loss), nine sacks and a pair of forced fumbles.
During the offseason, he has been working as a fullback and participated in the drills for the position at Wake Forest's Pro Day in March, looking strong as a pass catcher coming out of the backfield. Whitlock will compete with third-year player Orson Charles for the starting fullback job in Cincinnati.
Justin Jackson--Detroit Lions
Despite having his redshirt freshman season cut short due to an ACL injury, Jackson rebounded to appear in 37 games for the Demon Deacons while racking up 197 career tackles (5.3 per contest). He was the leading tackler for Wake Forest during the 2012 season, totaling 81 stops with 8.5 for loss.
The versatile 6-1, 230-pound linebacker has seen time at both the inside and outside slots and was one of the most consistent defensive stoppers on the field over his final three seasons, joining Mike Olson and Whitlock as the only players to record 50 or more tackles in each of those years.
Zach Thompson--New York Jets
A consistent bookend on the Wake Forest defensive line over the last four seasons, Thompson becomes the third Demon Deacon currently on New York's roster. During his time with the Demon Deacons, the 6-5, 265-pound defensive end recorded 153 tackles (22.5 for loss) and 12 sacks.
Thompson's production increased throughout his career, capped by a senior season in which he had 42 tackles while consistently getting into the backfield, notching 12 tackles for loss and placing second on the squad with five sacks.
The former Demon Deacon showed versatility during workouts this spring while flipping to the offensive side of the ball as a tight end, but the Jets currently list him at his natural defensive end position.