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Here, we’re taking a different approach. We’re focused on each team’s most exciting UDFA based on their talent, skill set or the promise they’re already showing in rookie minicamps.
Undrafted free agents face an uphill battle to earn a 53-man roster spot since their teams didn’t invest draft capital in them. But if they flash during the offseason program, they could make their coaching staff think twice about cutting them in August.
“The best players play, and the best players are the guys who play the best,” Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said while recruiting Alabama wideout Slade Bolden after the draft. “And that’s it. That’s how we do it.”
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The Arizona Cardinals have a downhill power runner in James Conner, but their complementary piece in the backfield isn’t quite settled. Chase Edmonds served in the role last season, but he signed with the Miami Dolphins this offseason.
The Cardinals drafted Eno Benjamin in the seventh round in 2020 and Keaontay Ingram in the sixth round this year. However, Utah’s T.J. Pledger has a different level of explosiveness and versatility to his game.
Two specific stats make Pledger an interesting option in the Cardinals backfield.
According to Pro Football Focus, he led all backs in this year’s class with an average of 4.90 rushing yards per carry on runs that weren’t perfectly blocked. His ability to create when everything isn’t perfect is a vital trait for the NFL, where vision and elusiveness are necessary.
Pledger also displayed the fastest max acceleration of any offensive player at this year’s Senior Bowl, per executive director Jim Nagy. He can make defenders miss and then blow right past them.
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These days, NFL linebackers tend to be smaller, with a much greater emphasis on playing in space. Downhill run-stuffers don’t hold nearly as much value as they did 20-30 years ago.
However, stopping the run remains a necessity at times, too. And Colorado linebacker Nate Landman is joining the Atlanta Falcons as an exceptional run defender.
“I’ve played the game at a high level for several seasons now,” the linebacker told The Draft Network’s Justin Melo. “I have those instincts you simply can’t teach. I have a superpower as a run-stopper. I do it better than anyone else in this draft class.”
Landman certainly doesn’t sell himself short.
Prospects can differentiate themselves by having a clear strength. For Landman, his run-stopping “superpower” coupled with extensive special teams experience make him an intriguing fit as a situation-specific talent with run-and-chase linebackers Deion Jones and Troy Andersen on the roster.
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Auburn linebacker Zakoby McClain showed consistent improvement during his time in college. McClain committed to the program as 6’0″, 205-pound recruit and then grew into a 228-pound second-line defender, who displayed an evolving game with each passing season.
Still considered undersized, McClain showed immense improvement as a run defender during his final season on campus. In fact, his run-defense grade led all SEC linebackers during the 2021 campaign, according to Pro Football Focus.
Keep in mind, the conference featured Butkus Award winner Nakobe Dean and six others who heard their names called during draft weekend.
McClain accumulated an impressive 208 total tackles over his last 23 games. The second-team All-SEC selection’s instincts, quickness, comfort level working in space and relentless motor make him an ideal weak-side linebacker and special teams contributor. He also improved his run fits and physicality last year.
The smallish-but-tenacious defender should find a home with the Baltimore Ravens.
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The Buffalo Bills offense is predicated on a spread passing attack built around the exceptional talent of quarterback Josh Allen. They place less of an emphasis on the running game since they don’t have backs who are capable of shouldering a large workload.
Buffalo hasn’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since LeSean McCoy in 2017. Instead, the Bills tend to value multifaceted tailbacks.
Devin Singletary led the team with 870 rushing yards last season, but he also caught 40 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown. Buffalo then signed Duke Johnson in free agency this offseason and drafted a similar talent in James Cook with the 63rd overall pick.
Virginia Tech’s Raheem Blackshear can help, too.
Blackshear never served as a full-time starter during his collegiate career. However, he finished as Virginia Tech’s leading rusher this past season, and his 29 receptions at Rutgers in 2019 ranked second on the team. He also has experience as a return to help on special teams.
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The first thing anyone notices about Kentucky nose tackle Marquan McCall isn’t his sheer size. He can be heard over just about anyone else. McCall brings a larger-than-life personality while playing one of the game’s least desirable positions.
True nose tackles rarely get the respect they deserve for doing all of the dirty work. McCall gives the Carolina Panthers a true space-eater. The 342-pound defensive lineman holds the point of attack well and even shows a little bit of burst to get up the field.
According to Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy, McCall dropped 40 pounds this past summer and became more committed overall. Weight will always be an issue for him, but a dedicated McCall can be one of the best nose tackles from this year’s class.
McCall needs to keep his size in check and continue to provide the same intensity and skill he displayed when playing with some of the nation’s best during this year’s all-star circuit.
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A prospect with a reliable (albeit limited) skill set isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Wisconsin’s Jack Sanborn is a between-the-tackles linebacker with good instincts, consistent tackling and an understanding of where to be when spot-dropping into coverage.
Due to his lack of overall athleticism, Sanborn can be exposed when asked to cover for any extended amount of time or to run sideline to sideline. The first-team All-Big Ten selection can still thrive on early downs when asked to play downhill or when asked to blitz the quarterback, though.
Sanborn registered 221 tackles, 29 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks over the last three seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, he graded as the third-best Power Five linebacker and registered the most quarterback pressures (53) among all Big Ten linebackers since the start of the 2020 campaign. He also spent three years on the Badgers’ punt coverage team.
The Chicago Bears don’t need Sanborn to be someone he isn’t. As long as he continues to do what he does, he can be a contributor.
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Aside from Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross, who had significant injury concerns going into this year’s draft process, Coastal Carolina wideout Jaivon Heiligh was the highest-rated offensive prospect on Bleacher Report’s final big board not to be drafted.
Heiligh received a fourth-round grade from the scouting department. Why?
“Heiligh is a long, twitchy outside receiver who can play a handful of snaps from the slot because of his body control and feel for space,” scout Nate Tice wrote. “He has good hands and is very comfortable using his length to extend for throws away from his body, and his length is not a hindrance on throws at his body since he is such a natural catcher.”
The two-time first-team All-Sun Belt selection left Coastal Carolina as the program’s all-time leading receiver. Although the Cincinnati Bengals’ wide receiver room is already loaded, Heiligh can’t be overlooked given his skill set and collegiate production.
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The Cleveland Browns wide receiver corps currently consists of Amari Cooper and… uh…?
Younger options such as Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz still have plenty of potential. The Browns also drafted Purdue wideout David Bell in the third round this year.
Since Cooper is the only sure thing in the pass-catching corps, the door remains open for another young, physically gifted option to carve out a role.
Northern Iowa’s Isaiah Weston is a large target with exceptional natural gifts. The 6’4″, 214-pound prospect posted the seventh-best relative athletic score of any wide receiver over the last 35 years, according to Pro Football Network’s Kent Lee Platte.
More often than not, Northern Iowa’s passing offense centered on chucking the ball into the air and asking Weston to go get it. He isn’t refined by any means, but his physical ability cannot be denied.
If properly harnessed, Weston is as talented as any wideout on the Browns roster not named Cooper.
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Players whose physical traits are more impressive than their on-field performances are often described as height/weight/speed prospects. USC cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart fits that mold.
While the descriptor can be viewed as a negative, the accompaniment of natural upside can’t be overlooked. The Jacksonville Jaguars just spent the No. 1 overall pick on a developmental prospect in Travon Walker who has outstanding physical prowess.
Expectations are far different for an undrafted free agent. Still, the same premise applies to Taylor-Stuart on a much lower level.
Taylor-Stuart has everything a team should want in a corner from a pure traits perspective. He’s a 6’1½”, 201-pound defensive back with 31½-inch arms and a 6’5¼” wingspan. He also has legitimate track speed as a top-10 400-meter sprinter among this year’s draft class, according to Tracking Football.
Inconsistency with his coverage and physicality caused Taylor-Stuart not to get drafted, but he has the raw material for the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff to make him into a solid professional.
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Alabama’s Christopher Allen finished with 13 tackles for loss and six sacks during the 2020 campaign. Unfortunately, a fractured foot cost him all but one game of the 2021 season.
The Denver Broncos didn’t forget his previous production, though. They signed Allen to their biggest undrafted free agent deal with $180,000 in total guaranteed money, according to Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed.
“He’s a very talented athlete, a really good person,” Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett told reporters. “For us, it’s about getting him healthy and getting him right first, then as we move forward we’ll be able to see where he fits. He has a lot of stuff that he has to offer this team, and we just have to get him out there so we can evaluate it.”
A healthy Allen provides more pass-rushing punch off the edge and a potential sub-package defender. His status with the Broncos likely hinges on his recovery from that foot injury.
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Prospects with NFL bloodlines are always intriguing, because they grew up in an environment where professional football was a fact of life.
For some, the looming shadow of a successful relative can be a burden. For others, the drive instilled to meet or succeed one’s relative can be a positive force toward establishing their own successful careers.
Derrick Deese spent 14 years in the NFL as an offensive lineman and won Super Bowl XXIX with the San Francisco 49ers. His son, Derrick Deese Jr., is a tight end, but semblances of his father can still be found within his game.
Deese led the San Jose Spartans last season with 47 receptions for 730 yards. He displayed good hands, body control and some ability to stretch the seam despite poor timed speed (4.93-second 40-yard dash). The tight end did struggle with a lower-body injury during Shrine Bowl week that prevented him from practicing after the first day.
But the genetics start to shine as a blocker. According to Pro Football Focus, Deese finished as one of three tight ends in 2021 with 80-plus grades as a receiver and run-blocker.
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Penn State placed a lot of defensive talent in the NFL over the last two seasons. Micah Parsons, Odafe Oweh, Shaka Toney, Arnold Ebiketie, Jaquan Brisker, Brandon Smith and Jesse Luketa all heard their names called during that stretch.
Surprisingly, the Nittany Lions’ leading tackler didn’t.
Ellis Brooks registered 160 tackles over the last two seasons, including 100 this past year, and led Penn State in tackles in both seasons. The 6’1″, 223-pound linebacker with 4.77-second 40-yard dash speed isn’t impressive physically, but he is an alpha.
When Brooks stepped onto the Shrine Bowl practice field, he took control of the entire defense by barking out where everyone should go and getting them properly aligned. In an all-star situation where awkwardness can arise, he looked right at home in the middle of the defense as its leader.
The Penn State product’s assertiveness and instincts will make it difficult for the Green Bay Packers to keep him off their roster.
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A three-year starting left tackle in the SEC is nothing to sneeze at.
Myron Cunningham worked his way from being a redshirt freshman at an FCS program, where he didn’t even play, to a JUCO transfer to a team captain and stalwart blindside protector at Arkansas.
Cunningham is far from a polished blocker. His footwork is inconsistent. He also isn’t the most nimble protector. However, Cunningham is a 6’5″, 320-pound lineman with 34½-inch arms. The size and length are enough to try him at tackle and possibly move him to guard.
The Houston Texans did a fantastic job during the draft by addressing multiple positions and building a foundation. They selected Kenyon Green and Austin Deculus in the first and sixth rounds, respectively, to inject youth and talent into their offensive line.
Cunningham may not come as highly regarded as Green or Deculus, but he’s clearly someone who bets on himself and overcomes the odds.
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The competition to become the Indianapolis Colts’ third running back looked wide open until they signed Phillip Lindsay on Tuesday. Instead, let’s focus on their defense, where they have a pair of interesting hybrid players.
JoJo Domann and Sterling Weatherford are both safeties/linebackers. Of the two, Domann generally received the higher grade across the board. Bleacher Report’s Scouting Department gave him a fifth-round grade.
“Domann is a bet on NFL athleticism and coverage potential,” B/R scout Derrik Klassen wrote. “At the very least, he will need a unique role early on while he tries to get his legs under him as a legit box linebacker.”
According to Pro Football Focus, the safety-turned-linebacker didn’t allow a single touchdown in coverage last year, and he led Big Ten linebackers in overall grade over the last three seasons. Domann’s positional flexibility, coverage skills and chance to be a core-four special teamer make him an ideal fit for Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
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The Jacksonville Jaguars added multiple pieces to their tight end room over the last year, but they still don’t seem to be settled at that spot.
The organization signed Chris Manhertz last March, then spent the 145th overall pick on Luke Farrell and traded for Dan Arnold in late September. Jacksonville then signed former New York Giants tight end Evan Engram to a one-year, $9 million contract in free agency this year.
Despite those investments, UAB tight end Gerrit Prince remains intriguing based on his skill set.
Prince led all FBS tight ends last season with an average of 19.5 yards per reception. His 10 touchdowns tied for third among the position group.
At 6’5″ and 240 pounds, Prince isn’t a traditional in-line option. He needs to improve his play strength and possibly add bulk to provide much of anything as blocker. However, he runs a sub-4.7-second 40-yard dash, can threaten the seam and creates after the catch.
Considering how valuable athletic targets are in today’s game, Prince can be another weapon for the Jaguars.
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Most rookies, especially those who weren’t drafted, know the key to making a team’s final roster.
“Anyone in the league will tell you, as a rookie, especially a linebacker, if you’re not valuable on special teams, your value greatly decreases,” Kansas City Chiefs rookie linebacker Jack Cochrane said during an interview on the Yotecast with John Thayer. “We got a little taste of that in rookie minicamp.”
Cochrane led South Dakota with 103 total tackles this past season. More importantly, the linebacker boasts some explosive athletic traits.
The 6’3″, 236-pound defender posted a 41-inch vertical with a 10’4″ broad jump at his pro day. The former would have ranked second among all linebackers at the NFL combine. His 4.07-second short shuttle topped everyone who competed in the event at Indianapolis.
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The Las Vegas Raiders drafted a pair of running backs in Zamir White and Brittain Brown. Some might think their backfield is already overstuffed with Josh Jacobs, Kenyon Drake, Brandon Bolden and the two rookies.
Maybe it is. But there might still be room for UTSA’s Sincere McCormick, too.
New Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels likes a varied backfield with plenty of depth. The New England Patriots often featured numerous backs during his time as offensive coordinator.
McCormick is a talented runner who posted 3,929 rushing yards over the last three seasons, including more than 1,400 in each of the last two years. But he’s another typical story of not being big enough (5’8″, 204 pounds) or fast enough (4.6-second 40-yard dash) for teams’ liking.
McCormick is a tough and decisive runner who plays behind his pads. He may not wow in any certain area, but he’s already comfortable working as a third-down back.
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The Los Angeles Chargers are another team with a deep backfield and little room for an undrafted free agent to crack the roster. However, Austin Ekeler has a tendency to get dinged up as a smaller back, and 2020 fourth-round pick Joshua Kelley hasn’t quite produced to the expected level yet.
The Chargers spent Day 3 draft picks on Larry Rountree III and Isaiah Spiller over the last two classes, but Leddie Brown fits the mold of a Chargers back because of how he contributes in both offensive phases.
The 6’0″, 213-pound back isn’t the most explosive runner. Still, he posted back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns at West Virginia with 22 rushing touchdowns.
More importantly, he can contribute in the passing game. Brown snagged 67 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns over the last two seasons.
As FantasyData noted, Brown ranked among the top four in this year’s class in target share.
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Blocking tight ends often aren’t exciting, even though they can play a critical part in an offensive scheme.
The Los Angeles Rams decreased their usage of 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends and two wide receivers) last season compared to the previous two campaigns, in part because Gerald Everett joined the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent. McNeese State tight end Jamal Pettigrew could help them get back into more 12 personnel this year.
Pettigrew isn’t Everett. He’s the exact opposite from a skill set perspective. But keeping the 6’7″, 245-pound prospect in-line may open up opportunities for the team’s other tight ends.
Pettigrew’s frame should allow him to develop into a good blocker at the point of attack with some upside as a pass-catcher. After transferring from LSU, he grabbed 18 catches in seven games at McNeese State.
The Rams do an excellent job of developing late-round/undrafted talent. Maybe the staff can coax the most out of the massive Pettigrew, too.
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Miami Dolphins defensive backs Jevon Holland and Verone McKinley III are former collegiate teammates with similar skill sets. They’re both hybrid defensive backs capable of playing either safety spot or cover the slot.
“We’re two guys, coaches’ kids coming up, playing different positions and understanding that that helps you increase your value if you can play multiple positions and do everything,” McKinley told reporters at the NFL combine. “So that’s kind of how we connected early on and just that’s how we played off each other and we know we can do everything if we need to be interchangeable. That’s what we were, so it definitely helps.”
Holland excelled as a rookie with the Dolphins, but other teams didn’t look at McKinley the same way because he isn’t the same caliber of athlete. McKinley posted a poor relative athletic score during the predraft process.
McKinley does bring a strong on-field presence because of his assertiveness and versatility. He should fit right in with the Dolphins since he already knows how he can play off his new (old) teammate.
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Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph converted 86.8 percent of his field-goal attempts last season, but he missed four extra points and a few potential game-winning field goals. His conversion rates finished 16th and 25th, respectively. Not awful, but not great.
The Vikings chose to tender the restricted free agent kicker this offseason. None of Joseph’s current deal is guaranteed, per the St. Paul Pioneer Press‘ Chris Tomasson.
Meanwhile, Minnesota signed a top-three kicking prospect in Oklahoma’s Gabe Brkic. The Lou Groza Award finalist has a big leg with nine field goals of 50 yards or longer over the last two seasons.
His consistency on intermediate attempts can be better, though he missed only four kicks under 40 yards during his collegiate career.
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The New England Patriots’ top two centers, David Andrews and James Ferentz, both came into the league as undrafted free agents. But their time could be coming to a close.
Andrews turns 31 next July, and the team can save $5.1 million with his release prior to the 2023 campaign. Ferentz turns 33 later this year, and he isn’t under contract beyond this season.
The setup over the ball seems to explain why the Patriots quickly signed Houston’s Kody Russey to an undrafted free-agent deal that includes $180,000 in guaranteed money, per Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed.
Russey is a sawed-off pivot, but he’s extremely strong (38 reps on bench) and plays with a powerful base. He started 60 games during his collegiate career between Louisiana Tech and Houston. Even though he played only one season with the Cougars, he earned enough respect with his teammates to be named a captain.
New England looks to have another undrafted free agent in the pipeline to take over snapping duties.
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It was hard not to notice tight end Lucas Krull when evaluating Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Pickett formed a special connection with wide receiver Jordan Addison, who won the Biletnikoff Award. However, he often looked to Krull when he needed to make a play over the middle of the field. The second-team All-ACC selection had a chance to shine in 2021 with 38 receptions for 451 yards and six touchdowns.
Krull is an excellent all-around athlete. In fact, the San Francisco Giants selected him in the 34th round of the 2018 MLB draft. The 6’6″, 260-pound tight end has 4.64-second 40-yard dash speed with a 35-inch vertical jump. His physical tools are impressive. He just needs to build on his final season with Pitt.
Krull’s skill set should lend well to a New Orleans Saints offense that lacks the type of athleticism and explosive traits that he brings, unless Taysom Hill makes a miraculous transition to the position.
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You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Running back Jashaun Corbin certainly made a good first impression during rookie minicamp with the New York Giants.
Giants head coach Brian Daboll told reporters that he “stood out” and looked “athletic” with “quick twitch.”
There’s irony in how Corbin is now viewed compared to his collegiate career, where he struggled to find his footing with the Texas A&M Aggies before transferring to the Florida State Seminoles.
During Corbin’s two seasons in Tallahassee, he racked up 1,547 yards from scrimmage and served as the team’s kick returner. He also worked as a punt returner throughout the Giants’ rookie minicamp, according to Zack Rosenblatt of NJ Advance Media.
Corbin’s versatility in two different phases of the game should give him more opportunities to make the Giants’ roster.
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Certain prospects stick out during the predraft process, particularly at an all-star event. Linebacker DQ Thomas fits the bill with his performance at the Shrine Bowl.
The 6’1″, 225-pound defender might be a little light, but his size shouldn’t fool anyone, because he had one of the biggest highlights during the practice week. The linebacker absolutely lit up a running back on one-on-one pass-blocking drills.
Thomas was clearly the most fluid linebacker in space among those in attendance, though he didn’t finish the week due to an injury. When on the field, he was consistently in position. If he could’ve butted up when he had opportunities to make plays, particularly in team sessions, he could’ve walked away as one of the most improved players at the event.
In the end, Thomas landed with the New York Jets, whose linebacking corps could use another young athlete.
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The acquisition of a quarterback is treated differently than any other position, even if they’re undrafted draft free agents. The Philadelphia Eagles certainly raised eyebrows with their signing of Nevada’s Carson Strong.
Jalen Hurts shouldn’t feel threatened by Strong, as the franchise did everything in its power this offseason to aid in his success. Even so, the Eagles made a significant investment by signing Strong to the offseason’s most lucrative undrafted free-agent deal, which includes $320,000 in guaranteed money, per Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Strong’s guarantees are equivalent to the signing bonus of last year’s 156th overall pick, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Isaiahh Loudermilk.
The two-time Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 7,033 yards and 63 touchdowns over the last two seasons. He’s a sturdy, vertical thrower who fits as a traditional pocket passer. Basically, he’s the antithesis of Hurts, which is what makes the signing so intriguing.
Concerns over a balky knee that required two surgeries and how it’ll hold up over time likely explains why the talented passer didn’t get drafted.
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NFL teams are always interested in taking fliers on former top talents, specifically former highly regarded recruits.
USC’s Chris Steele was the nation’s fifth-ranked cornerback recruit in the class of 2019, according to 247 Sports. He was right around the likes of Derek Stingley Jr., Andrew Booth Jr. and Kaiir Elam, all three of whom were first- or second-round picks this year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers secondary is in a bit of a transition phase with Levi Wallace taking over for Joe Haden as starting cornerback. Wallace is a former undrafted free agent who took over a starting job with the Buffalo Bills as part of the league’s best pass defense.
Like Wallace, Steele went to a major program (two, actually, after transferring from Florida) but never quite put together the resume to warrant draft consideration. Steele is a 6’0″, 187-pound corner with 4.48-second 40-yard-dash speed. He has the talent to excel in the NFL, but his lapses in coverage and tackling can’t be as frequent.
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San Francisco 49ers center Jason Poe is a different prospect. How different?
Bleacher Report scout Brandon Thorn evaluated the Mercer offensive lineman and saw a future NFL fullback.
“Poe is an athletic, physical spark plug on the move as a puller,” Thorn wrote. “He has the ability to make an immediate impact as a fullback sealing the edges or tracking down smaller defenders at the second level. His body type likely pigeonholes him to having to try center to stick on the offensive line, but he has enough juice and tenacity to carve out a role for a creative, diverse run game in the NFL.”
According to The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, Poe will start his NFL career on the offensive line.
In the trenches, his mobility is truly special. The 6’1″, 300-pound powder keg pulled regularly and blew up defenders. His movement skills showed up with his predraft testing. According to Pro Football Network’s Kent Lee Platte, the FCS product an elite relative athletic score in every category except size.
Poe’s development will be fascinating to watch, especially because he might eventually convert to another position.
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A player must be truly special to garner NFL consideration after playing for a Division III program.
The Seattle Seahawks signed Joshua Onujiogu out of Framingham State. The program has never produced an NFL player, but Onujiogu has a real chance to buck the trend.
“The Seahawks felt Seattle was the right place for him,” his agent, Joe Linta, told the Metrowest Daily News‘ Lenny Megliola.
Seattle is the right landing spot because A) head coach Pete Carroll only cares about competition and B) the Seahawks are still looking for a “Leo”-style pass rusher, though the organization spent a second-round pick on Boye Mafe this year.
The 6’3″, 250-pound Onujiogu proved to be a terror at the lower levels. His highlight reel borders on the cartoonish in how he treated Division III offensive tackles. Blockers could be regularly seen flying through the air or whiffing as Onujiogu took full advantage of his speed-to-power moves.
Last season, he registered 25 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks in 11 games.
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Kyler McMichael is a physically gifted, still developing cornerback who started two seasons for the North Carolina Tar Heels after transferring from the Clemson Tigers.
McMichael is a 6’0″, 202-pound cornerback with 4.34-second 40-yard-dash speed. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be a good fit for him because of Todd Bowles aggressive scheme. McMichael thrives in man-press situations.
“That is something that I was definitely able to work on with Dre’ (Bly),” McMichael told Horseshoe Huddle’s Zach Hicks. “I like to be a physical corner that takes advantage of my size at the line of scrimmage. Being a guy with my size, it makes it easier for me to stay square as long as possible and get hands on these receivers. This is definitely an area that I pride myself in.”
The Buccaneers staff is already taking notice. Bowles said McMichael looked “sharp” during rookie minicamp and competes hard, per Scott Smith of the Buccaneers’ official site.
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The Texas A&M Aggies defensive front featured so much talent, yet Jayden Peevy consistently flashed and drew attention away from others.
“Put on the Arkansas tape. He was a one-man wrecking crew against the run,” an anonymous scout told The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman. “He’s big. Long. Heavy-handed. Got quicks off the ball. Can chase laterally. This guy is too big & too athletic not to play whether it’s a 4-3 or a 3-4.”
Issues with balance and pad level caused some worries. Peevy is almost 6’6″, which makes it difficult for him to establish leverage. At the collegiate level, the defensive tackle could throw around offensive linemen or blow past them with his initial quickness. The same won’t be true in the NFL.
Peevy has the size, length and ability to develop into a premium interior defender, and the Tennessee Titans boast one of the NFL’s best defensive fronts. They have the talent and coaching to maximize his abilities.
If Tennessee unleashes Peevy’s potential, he could very well be the best defensive lineman from a Texas A&M unit that also featured DeMarvin Leal, Micheal Clemons and Tyree Johnson.
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Armani Rogers needn’t look far to find someone who can help with his transition from quarterback to tight end. Rodgers only has to ask fellow Washington Commander Logan Thomas, who successfully turned himself into one of the league’s better tight ends after only playing quarterback at the collegiate level.
Rogers started behind center for the UNLV Rebels and Ohio Bobcats. He graded as the nation’s best freshman quarterback in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus. Rogers also set the FBS record as the only quarterback with a 99-yard touchdown run.
The 6’5″, 225-pounder veered more toward a standout athlete than a consistent pocket passer. As such, Rogers began the switch to tight end at the Shrine Game, where he looked surprisingly smooth and comfortable running routes.
Thomas can help with the process, though Rogers clearly needs time to establish a comfort level at his new position. In doing so, Thomas could be grooming his own replacement since he turns 31 later this year and has salary-cap hits north of $8 million in 2023 and 2024.