Top 3 Undrafted Free Agent Classes
*Signing Data from the great database at NEPatriotsdraft.com
Here are my top three undrafted free agent hauls from the 2013 class.
-Note Signing data is subject to change
1. Buffalo Bills-
Notable Signings: WR Da’Rick Rogers, WR Brandon Kaufman, C Ryan Turnley, LB Keith Pough, CB Nickell Robey, DE/DT Izann Cross
Most Likely to Make the Team: WR Da’Rick Rogers and LB Keith Pough
If the Bills selected Kaufman, Turnley, Pough, Robey or Cross in the 7th round, I doubt a single draft analyst would have bat an eye. Da’Rick Rogers was a guy who could have gone in the 3rd round and would have made sense from a talent stand point. Off the field issues and a poor work ethic has plagued Rogers throughout his career and it was why Tennessee let him go from his scholarship prior to last season. It is also likely why he went undrafted. That being said there were a number of guys with as bad if not worse issues who were drafted this past weekend. Rogers has an intriguing skill set, with good size and above average speed. He has a big year for the Volunteers in 2011, with over 1,000 yards receiving and 9 TD’s. Last year at the FBS level he caught 78 passes for over 1,200 yards and 11 TD’s. He followed that up with a strong showing at the combine. He he shows that he is more mature he has a good shot of making the team and perhaps one day developing into a starter.
Rogers isn’t the only one with a really good shot to make the team as LB Keith Pough from Howard is a really intriguing prospect. He dominated at his level with great instincts and technique. He showed a wide range of abilities from rushing the passer to dropping into coverage. He went to the East West Shrine game and had a really strong week, not just from a production stand point, but from a leadership/work ethic stand point. He didn’t test particularly well at the Combine, but at the same time he is not a guy who has had the same level of resources and support system to train for the Combine drills.
Sleeper To make the Team: OL Kyle Turnley- Turnley is a versatile offensive lineman who’s best positions are guard and center. He played well at the East West Shrine week, and given the Bills needs there he could sneak his way onto the roster.
2. Houston Texans:
Notable Signings: CB Travis Howard, RB Ray Graham, RB Dennis Johnson, RB Cierre Wood, WR Alec Lemon, FB Zach Boren, QB/TE Collin Klein, CB Johnny Adams, OL Graham Pocic, OL Dann O’Neill
Most Likely to Make the Team: RB Ray Graham and WR Alec Lemon
While many will talk about Heisman finalist Collin Klein, this class is notable for other reasons. One it is an extremely deep UDFA class, with a number of guys with draftable or near draftable grades. The Texans also targeted some of their thinnest positions like running back, wide receiver and cornerback meaning it is a bit more likely that one or more of these guys can make the squad.
Ray Graham is probably the most intriguing case for the Texans. In 2011 he was among the leading rushers in college football before tearing his ACL in the 8th game of the season. Despite it being less than 10 months from his surgery, Graham was back and ready to play at the start of the 2012 season. Even though he wasn’t 100% and was limited early in the season, Graham still managed to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark. He showed strong at the East West Shrine game with good cutting ability and great vision. Though his combine wasn’t as strong, Graham is a great fit for the Texans zone blocking scheme. With just two running backs under contract he has a fantastic chance to make the squad.
Alec Lemon has been the Orange’s leading receiver each of the last two years, and came in as an injury replacement to the Senior Bowl where he had a nice week. He shows good route running ability and nice hands. He’s not the fastest receiver, but could fit in well with the Texans shorter and intermediate passing attack. Though the Texans spent draft picks on the receiver position, Lemon could still have a shot of making the squad given how thin the roster was to start the weekend.
Sleeper to make the team: CB Johnny Adams- Adams had a productive career at Michigan State and the Texans lack cornerback depth. With a strong camp he could earn his way as the 5th corner and at worst should be on the practice squad.
3. Minnesota Vikings:
Notable Signings: RB/FB Zach Line, RB Robbie Rouse, WR Erik Highsmith, WR Rodney Smith, DL Nathan Williams, OL Mark Jackson, DT Anthony McCloud
Most likely to make the team: Zach Line and Erik Highsmith
The Vikings needed a strong UDFA period given how many draft picks they gave up to trade back into the first round, and they did accomplish that. Now obviously the undrafted free agents aren’t going to make up for the loss of 3rd and 4th round picks, but they can help add depth to the roster.
Zach Line is the most interesting pick-up as he’s a hybrid RB/FB, who could end up as the eventual successor to be Adrian Peterson‘s back-up when Toby Gerhart becomes a free agent next year. Line had a very highly productive career at SMU, leading the Mustangs in rushing for three straight seasons. He displays good north/south running skills with nice power, and solid vision. With just three running backs signed on the roster he has a good shot to make the team. His versatility to back-up the fullback position is nice as well.
Erik Highsmith has been the number two receiver at UNC for three straight years now. While he’s not the fastest or biggest receiver he runs quality routes and is great at positioning himself when the ball is in the air. He’s a smart receiver who works back to the quarterback and displays good hands. With the Vikings receiver depth extremely shaky, he could earn himself a spot on this team.
Sleeper to make the team: WR Rodney Smith- Smith never developed into a top flight receiver at FSU, but he’s got impressive size and decent speed. Given how thin the Vikings are, Smith could earn a job if he shows he can utilize that size as a red zone weapon.