NFL Draft Daily: Undrafted free agents to keep an eye on in the pros

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I won’t pretend to be an expert on these undrafted players, but there are a few every year that go on to have a major impact at the NFL level. Some more notable ones in recent years include Phillip Lindsay, Tyler Huntley, Marquez Callaway, Rodrigo Blankenship, Jakobi Meyers and Deonte Harris to name a few.

Not all of these players will be starters. In fact, none of them are likely to be. However, I think these players could be in a good spot to make a roster and prove they belong in the NFL.

Tyshaun James, WR, Central Connecticut State
Atlanta is in desperate need of receivers and it might have found some help in James. He is big at 6’3″, which is something the Falcons will be able to make use of. His numbers fell off during his senior season, scoring just six touchdowns after accounting for 14 his junior year. Given that Atlanta lacks much in the way of proven talent at the position, I could see him making the roster.

Alec Lindstrom, C, Boston College
I’m a bit surprised that Lindstrom went undrafted. He had a fantastic career at Boston College. Starting for three seasons at center, he was All-ACC first-team in his junior and senior seasons while finishing as a finalist for the Rimington Award in 2021. He is unquestionably undersized, but that never seemed to be an issue in college. He actually tested average to above average in just about every drill at the combine as well. I think he has a future as a backup in the league. Dallas did well to pick him up.

Tyler Goodson, RB, Iowa
Another player that I was surprised to see go undrafted, Goodson lands in a good spot with Green Bay. He will certainly face an uphill climb to make the roster given that the Packers have Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon and Kylin Hill already. That being said, he is quick and has decent hands (31 receptions in 2021). If he can find a way to contribute on special teams, I think he has a shot to hang around as a change-of-pace back in the league.

Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
This one exclusively comes down to medicals. Four years ago, we all thought Ross was on track to be a surefire first-round pick. He was a big-body receiver snagging catches from Trevor Lawrence. He was the top target on a team that included Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers, reeling in 46 catches for 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns as a true freshman. That Clemson team went undefeated and won a title. He followed it up with another impressive campaign in 2019. Then, he underwent surgery on a congenital spinal fusion condition that cost him the 2020 season. He returned for a much more modest 2021 campaign. If Ross is truly healthy, he landed in the best spot possible with the Chiefs. I know Kansas City will likely rely less on the vertical passing game in 2022, but they’ve found a deep ball specialist in Ross.

Chase Garbers, QB, Cal
There was a time where I convinced myself that Chase Garbers could be a first-round quarterback. This was back in 2020, when Garbers debuted in my Way-Too-Early 2021 NFL Mock Draft. That assessment was definitely a bit off, but there are still some elements of his game that I really like. He is mobile and extends plays while keeping his eyes downfield. His completion percentage slowly crept up over the final three years of his career as well. In Las Vegas, he will be competing with Nick Mullens and Garrett Gilbert for a roster spot. I could see him spending a year on the practice squad before hopefully making the 53-man roster.

Cameron Dicker, K, Texas
It’s not a fun list unless we have a kicker on it! Matt Gay is the incumbent for the Rams, but Dicker will be interesting competition this offseason. Here’s what makes him interesting: he punts and kicks. He was first-team All-Big 12 as a punter this past season and an honorable mention as a kicker. If he hopes to make the roster, he will have to improve his accuracy, but he did hit from 57 in 2019, so the range is clearly there. I think he makes the practice squad because of that versatility to punt and kick.

Kellen Diesch, OT, Arizona State
Diesch is an incredible athlete who didn’t quite check every box from a measurables standpoint. At 6’7″, 301 pounds, he ran a 4.89 40 and posted an impressive 32.5-inch vertical. Unfortunately, he has below average length for an NFL tackle. Still, he started all 13 games for Arizona State this past season, earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors. He is a bit of a project, desperately needing to fill out his massive frame, but the Dolphins will be willing to bet on his upside panning out, especially after having just four selections in the 2022 draft.

Smoke Monday, S, Auburn
The first man on the all-name team, Monday joins the Saints after a solid career at Auburn. He is a big-play threat, accounting for a defensive touchdown in each of his final three college seasons. Monday also has the requisite size and speed to play in the NFL, even if nothing he brings to the table is elite on paper. He is a hard-hitting safety who needs to be a bit more disciplined in his approach. New Orleans could use a bit more youth at the safety spot.

Brenden Schooler, S, Texas
This is a really interesting one. Schooler started his college career at Oregon, where he entered as a defensive back. After ten starts at safety as a true freshman, he switched to receiver. He admittedly did not do much as a receiver in college, accumulating 661 yards and six touchdowns over four seasons, including his 2020 season spent with Texas as a grad transfer. He returned to the Longhorns for his extra year of eligibility and moved back to defensive back. I don’t know that Schooler is destined for a long NFL career, but his path to the NFL is one of the most interesting ones I can think of. The Patriots will probably find a way to utilize his size (6’2″) and varied skill set.

Reggie Roberson Jr., WR, SMU
Another receiver who had his career disrupted by injuries, Roberson landed with the Titans after going undrafted. He was on his way to being a Day 2 prospect in 2019 (2020 draft), but suffered a season-ending foot injury. Then, he tore his ACL in 2020. His 2021 season was much more muted as he tried to regain his form. He is not supremely athletic, but he was productive in college and could be a solid No. 4 or No. 5 receiver in the NFL if he can stay healthy. The Titans need to find some depth at receiver they can rely on.

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Best 2020 Undrafted Free Agent Landing Spots

255 players were drafted into the NFL over the weekend. The draft process hardly ends there though. Dozens of players immediately sign with teams as undrafted free agents. While most fail to make a meaningful impact, there have been plenty that have gone on to be great players. Tony Romo, Priest Holmes, John Randle, Kurt Warner, Warren Moon, Wes Welker, Antonio Gates and many more went on to have great, and in some cases, Hall of Fame careers.

More recently, Austin Ekeler, Phillip Lindsay, Charvarius Ward, Corey Littleton, Taysom Hill and Matt Breida all never had their name called during the draft, but went on to carve out roles in the league. Lindsay reached the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Ward just won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs. Every year, there is someone that slipped through the cracks and goes on to wow the league. Here are some of the players best positioned to achieve that kind of success from this year’s crop of undrafted free agents.

Washington made up logoThaddeus Moss, TE, LSU – Washington
Randy Moss’ son does not possess the same type of athletic ability as his father, but Thad Moss has the makings of a solid possession receiver. He caught 47 passes from Joe Burrow this season en route to a national title and showed his ability to make plays on the biggest stage with two touchdowns in the championship game against Clemson. He lacks elite speed, but he definitely has the chops to help out in the passing game. Given that Washington seems set to enter the season with Jeremy Sprinkle as their starting tight end, there is potential that Moss could earn playing time as early as this year.

Jets logoJavelin Guidry, CB, Utah – New York Jets
The Jets did take a corner in this draft in Bryce Hall, and I love that pick. However, there isn’t a ton of depth in this group that mostly just features Colts castoffs. Guidry is a track star who ran a 4.29 40 at the combine. Reminder that Henry Ruggs ran a 4.27. I’m surprised that no one decided to take a flier on him. He is a bit undersized at 5’9″, but he has a good shot to make the roster and compete for maybe a role as their dime corner or a special teams role.

Seahawks logoAaron Fuller, WR, Rhode Island – Seattle Seahawks
One of my favorite sleepers in this draft, I think Fuller could be the latest unheralded prospect to find success in Seattle. He has really impressive body control and there are some already comparing him to Doug Baldwin. There are definitely some things he will have to overcome from a traits perspective. He has smaller than average hands and slightly shorter arms. I think he could have some issues catching the ball away from his body at the next level, but he did it really well in college. If he can adjust to the game speed, I think he has a chance to make the roster and eventually become a contributor.

Browns logoA.J. Green, CB, Oklahoma State – Cleveland Browns
Picture this. The Browns are facing the Bengals. Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams are both out due to injury (something that happened a few times in 2019) and Cleveland needs someone to cover Cincinnati’s top receiving threat. And that is how we get our first A.J. Green vs. A.J. Green matchup. Fun scenario’s aside, the former Oklahoma State corner is big and physical. He didn’t always win his matchup at the Senior Bowl, but he did not back down from anyone. Green regularly battled with the best receivers in this class during that practice week and I liked what I saw. He is definitely a little underdeveloped from a technique standpoint, but I think his physical traits are good enough for him to make the roster and provide some important depth at the position.

Cowboys logoFrancis Bernard, LB, Utah – Dallas Cowboys
I like my Utah defensive players. Bernard has impressive lateral quickness and is very comfortable in coverage. He is also really good at shedding blocks and has the ability to contribute as a situational blitzer. His biggest knocks are his size and his tackling, the latter being something he will need to improve upon if he wants to make the roster. He should provide some really good depth though and might even be able to work his way into the lineup for some sub-packages in obvious passing situations. Given the injuries Dallas has had at the position in recent years, Bernard could end up being valuable.

Lions LogoHunter Bryant, TE, Washington – Detroit Lions
One year after drafting T.J. Hockenson in the first round and signing Jesse James in free agency, the Lions are set at the position for the time being. I still really like the move to grab a high-upside player like Bryant. He had 852 yards receiving this year at Washington and was a finalist for the Mackey Award. He is definitely a flex option rather than an inline blocker, but he gives the team some flexibility going forward. James’ contract has an out after this season if Detroit decides they want to save some money.

Packers logoStanford Samuels, CB, Florida State – Green Bay Packers
Not seeing Samuels drafted was a big surprise. I thought he would come off the board some time in round five. He doesn’t possess blazing speed, but he has good size at 6’1″ and looked very comfortable in coverage at Florida State. He was an All-ACC honorable mention his final year in school and had six interceptions over the past two seasons. I think he has a good shot to make the roster as a developmental corner.

Colts logoRodrigo Blakenship, K, Georgia – Indianapolis Colts
Yeah we can put kickers on here! One year after watching Father Time finally catch up with Adam Vinatieri, the Colts will be auditioning new kickers. Blakenship is something of a folk hero after his career at Georgia. He never missed an extra point in college and made 80 of 97 career field goal attempts during his four years as the starter. He has a powerful leg which will translate well to the next level. If he can find a way to get back to the level he was at during his sophomore year when he made 87 percent of his kicks, the Colts will have found themselves a great kicker.

Jaguars logoJames Robinson, RB, Illinois State – Jacksonville Jaguars
With rumors that Leonard Fournette is unsettled in Jacksonville and no clear succession plan in place, I think Robinson has a good chance to make the roster. He was one of the best backs in all of FCS last year. He is north-south runner who can catch the ball out of the backfield and pass block as well. Robinson tore up the East-West Shrine Bowl during the pre-draft process. Don’t be surprised if he is getting some touches this season if Fournette ends up elsewhere.

Eagles LogoAdrian Killins, RB, UCF – Philadelphia Eagles
Another East-West Bowl participant, I think Killins fits well in what the Eagles like to do offensively. He has a very slight build, but he has good vision and the speed to bounce any play to the outside and pick up extra yardage. I can see Philly using him as a third-down back similar to what they used to do with Darren Sproles. Killins needs to improve his hands if he really wants to lock down that role, but he has the agility and instincts to thrive in it if he does.