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Blog Entry

My five favorite undrafted free agent prospects

Posted on: May 17, 2011 12:41 pm
 
Following the draft, my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter released NFLDraftScout.com's list of the top undrafted prospects still available. In the article, Chad highlights his five favorite free agents, as well as a breakdown of the five best players per position likely to be signed by NFL teams once the lockout ends.

I focused instead on highlighting the schematic fits that teams may have found in Rounds one through seven. Now, with the Finding the Fits series finished, here are my favorite prospects that weren't drafted.

Players are listed alphabetically.

Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina: I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for cornerbacks with ball skills who have starred at the major collegiate level and then plummeted on draft day when they raw slower than expected. Burney is a classic example of this phenomenon. The 44 game starter has 10 career interceptions, including two he returned for TDs. He ran slowly at the Combine (4.71) and his Pro Day (4.73), but his instincts, quick feet and reliable tackling are legitimately NFL caliber. In a zone scheme, Burney can be effective as a nickel or dime cornerback.

Graig Cooper, RB, Miami: Playing through his recovery for a torn ACL, Cooper was a shadow of his former self last season. Cooper, who had led Miami in rushing the three previous seasons, dropped to only 165 yards and one touchdown in 2010. The elusiveness and burst that he had demonstrated previously was coming back, however, as evidenced by Cooper's strong performance at the East-West Shrine Game and the fact that he ran the fastest 3-cone time of all running backs tested at the Combine (6.66 seconds). Poor medical grades pushed Cooper out of the draft, but don't be surprised if a team willing to take a gamble is paid back handsomely for their investment.

Willie Smith, OT, East Carolina: Smith has legitimate NFL size and athleticism. He is, however, very raw in his technique and prone to mental mistakes. An all-conference left tackle, Smith has the quick feet and long arms to potentially remain as a blindside pass protector in the NFL but doesn't currently possess the upper or lower body strength to play anywhere else on the offensive line. That fact pushed him down the board despite his obvious tools. Smith could surprise if given a year on to develop.

Adam Weber, QB, Minnesota: Weber wasn't surrounded by a great deal of talent while at Minnesota, but he left as one of the most productive passers in Big Ten history. One of the reasons why he wasn't invited to the Combine and slipped out of the draft, itself, was the fact that he came in so much smaller than expected. Listed at 6-3, 221 pounds, Weber instead measured in at 6-1 (and 1/8) and 209 pounds. He has enough arm strength to be effective in a traditional West Coast Offense and has a good feel in the pocket. His gutty play reminds me of former undrafted free agent Jon Kitna, who has carved out for himself a 15-year (and counting) NFL career.

Ian Williams, DT, Notre Dame: Williams may be last on my list alphabetically, but he certainly ranks among my top undrafted targets. Strong and stout at the point of attack, the 6-1, 319 pounder can play the nose in the 3-4 as well as in the 4-3 alignment. Like Cooper, Williams is coming off a knee injury (torn MCL) that limited his senior season. Even when healthy, Williams isn't going to dazzle anyone with flashy plays as he has only moderate overall athleticism. His ability to hold up at the point of attack, however, should make him one of the more eagerly sought-after free agents this year.

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