Posted on: August 30, 2011 9:01 am
Edited on: August 30, 2011 2:06 pm

10 Undrafted Free Agents Who Could Make the Cut

Those of us who root for the underdog seem to latch on to an undrafted free agent or two each summer in the hopes that our favorite NFL team has unearthed the next Tony Romo, Arian Foster or John Randle.

With limited opportunity to make a strong impression on coaches this year due to prolonged holdout and lack of mini camps, it has been a steeper climb than ever for undrafted rookies, and yet there are several throughout the league who appear well on their way to making active rosters.

These ten undrafted free agents have stood out for Brad Noel (a regular contributor to this blog, NFLDraftScout.com) and myself during film review of the first three weeks of the preseason.

If you feel there are other UDFAs we've missed, please don't hesitate to identify and provide your own scouting report in the comment section below. Brad and I are watching as much tape as possible, but we haven't seen every game. At least not yet...

Players are listed alphabetically.

1. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks (Stanford): Had impressed brass with his reliable hands, route-running out of the slot and that was before he returned a kickoff 105 yards for a TD against Denver.
2. Nick Bellore, ILB, Jets (Central Michigan): Instinctive and a terrific open field tackler, Bellore made several standout plays Monday against the Giants.
3. Ryan Donahue, P, Lions (Iowa): Seems to have a legitimate chance of unseating veteran Nick Harris for the starting punting (and holder) positions for the Lions.
4. Kevin Kowalski, C, Cowboys (Toledo): I'm told Kowalski's solid play was one of the factors that led to the team's surprising release of former Pro Bowler Andre Gurode.
5. Josh Portis, QB, Seahawks (California of PA): Has easily won the Seahawks No. 3 position and some argue he holds more upside than current No. 2 quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.
6. Weslye Saunders, TE, Steelers (South Carolina): Big bodied blocker with the hands to be a threat in short yardage situations.
7. Ricardo Silva, S, Lions (Hampton): Appeared to be a loooong-shot heading into the preseason, but has proven to be a playmaker (two interceptions, fumble recovery) and is practicing ahead of veterans Aaron Francisco and Michael Johnson, among others. 
8. Willie Smith, OT, Redskins (East Carolina): The same athleticism that Brad and I found so intriguing before continues to be obvious. While there are concerns about Smith's technique and ability to handle the playbook, he played well as a second string left tackle against a physical Baltimore front last week. In fact, according to Brad, Smith outplayed veteran Sean Locklear (78 career starts for Seattle) who served as the team's second string right tackle in the same contest.
9. Cedric Thornton, DT, Eagles (Southern Arkansas): Andy Reid's willingness to shuffle the deck at defensive tackle makes listing Thornton a gamble, but he's shown good athleticism at 6-3, 310 pounds.
10. Will Yeatman, TE, Patriots (Maryland): Won't push Gronkowski or Hernandez for fantasy consideration, but is a big body (6-6, 270) who has stood out as a blocker.

Posted on: April 23, 2011 12:12 pm

Detroit Lions Draft Preview


   2010 record: 6-10, fourth place NFC North

2011 draft rundown

   Six total picks (round): 13 (1), 44 (2), 75 (3), 107 (4), 154 (5), 205 (7) 

Top needs:

   Outside linebacker: This was by far the weakest link in the defense last season and three of the four players who started are gone. The problem is, there is a pronounced scarcity of outside linebackers in this draft that fit the Lions' 4-3 scheme.

   Cornerback: The Lions have tendered Chris Houston, but there is still a chance he could be lost to free agency once the new collective bargaining agreement is in place. On the other side are promising but unproven players like Alphonso Smith and Prince Miller.

   Offensive line: This unit is expected to return intact next season, but that line includes 34-year-old LT Jeff Backus entering the final year of his contract and RT Gosder Cherilus coming off micro-fracture knee surgery.

   Running back: The Lions released Kevin Smith, leaving them with second-year Jahvid Best and veteran Maurice Morris. They have for years now lacked a true power back.

First round focus

   13th overall

   --Quarterback Matthew Stafford hasn't stayed healthy in either of his two seasons with the Lions, and with questions surrounding the future of Jeff Backus (age, 2012 free agent) and Gosder Cherlius (microfracture surgery), it seems like the Lions may have great interest in one of the top tackles in this class. However, the team's situation at linebacker could push them to select versatile Akeem Ayers instead of waiting until the second or third round, as depth there is truly lacking. And if number two-ranked corner Prince Amukamara were to fall to them, he may be tough to pass up.

Five names on Lions' board
  --OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
  --OT Tyron Smith, Southern Cal
  --OT Nate Solder, Colorado
  --OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA
  --CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska 

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter

Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Detroit, Lions
Posted on: March 31, 2011 8:17 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2011 8:17 pm

Lions get 7th-round pick back

The Detroit Lions will still lose one pick in the 2012 draft, but have had a seventh-round pick this year reinstated following an appeal on tampering charges, the NFL Network reported.

Commissioner Roger Goodell penalized the Lions on Feb. 18 for comments defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, who held the same role with Kansas City from 1995-2000, made about players still under contract with the Chiefs in February 2010.

"(Kansas City) keeps wanting to dump their players. I would like to be there to catch a lot of them because I know a couple of those guys," Cunningham told the Detroit Free Press before the start of free agency last offseason.

The paper also reported the Lions were cited for impermissible contact with S Jarrad Page, or his agent. Page was still under contract with the Chiefs but had requested a trade, and was dealt to New England last year.

Instead of a pick this year, the Lions will lose a pick in 2012, and must still exchange fifth-round picks this year (Kansas City gets Detroit's 140th overall pick and the Lions receive the Chiefs' 154th overall selection).

Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com Executive Editor

Posted on: October 21, 2010 9:04 am

Super Bowl teams boast Rookies of the Week

Considering that the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts are the reigning NFL and AFC champions, it might come as a surprise that they had enough holes for rookies to make big splashes already this season.

That said, anyone who watched their victories this past Sunday over the Tampa Bucs and Washington Redskins, respectively know the impacts that running back Chris Ivory and middle linebacker Pat Angerer had on their games.

As a way of keeping up with the collegiate prospects I scouted last year, I recognize an offensive and defensive NFL rookie of the week after each weekend's games. There was significant competition this week, but Ivory and Angerer's performances were just too productive to really look anywhere else.

Ivory, an undrafted free agent out of Tiffin University, exploded for 158 rushing yards against the Bucs. He did his damage on only 15 carries, meaning he averaged 10.5 yards per attempt. He was even more effective as a receiver, catching one pass for 17 yards. Ivory led all NFL running backs in rushing yardage in Week Six.

Angerer, a second round pick out of Iowa, continued the Colts' trend of drafting undersized, instinctive linebackers and simply plugging them in. Leading the Colts with 11 tackles against Washington, Angerer also posted a sack and broke up two passes.

Among the offensive rookies I also considered were Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy (who showed surprising poise in a loss to the Steelers), Seattle offensive tackle Russell Okung (who limited Julius Peppers to only one tackle in the Seahawks' surprising win over the Bears) and a couple of wideouts -- St. Louis' Danario Alexander and Dallas' Dez Bryant -- who each caught their first NFL touchdowns this week.

On the defensive side of the ball, Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was a strong candidate, considering his three tackles and 1.5 sacks against the Giants. Suh leads all rookies in sacks with 4.5, as well as all interior defensive linemen in the NFL. The Patriots' Jermaine Cunningham was also a consideration, as his six tackles, one sack and one forced fumble helped the Patriots come back to beat the Ravens in one of the week's best games.


Posted on: July 14, 2010 6:57 pm

Price-Brent's stock rising; Unga's 'settling'

With less than 24 hours before the NFL's annual Supplemental draft I polled various league sources to find all of the latest buzz surrounding its four applicants and the NFL teams likely to get involved.

Though BYU running back Harvey Unga has generated most of the pre-draft hype, I'm told it could be Illinois defensive tackle Joshua Price-Brent who is drafted first.

There are a few clubs thought to be quite high on the former Illinois standout. There is talk that Price-Brent is earning 4th round grades from some scouts -- though I'd be surprised, quite frankly, if any player was picked this high. Detroit, New Orleans, San Francisco, St. Louis and Green Bay are all thought to be interested. The value of the defensive tackle position, Price-Brent's size (6-2, 321) and his 20 career starts under respected coach Ron Zook were all given as reasons why the big run-stuffer is generating some late buzz.

Unga's stock, on the other hand, was characterized as "settling" by one league source.

Unga's production and strong running speak for themselves, but his 4.63-4.73 second times in the 40-yard dash at his July 8 Pro Day and lingering right ankle sprain only added to the perception that he was too slow and injury-prone to ever be a full-time back in the NFL. Few teams are willing to invest anything more than a very late pick in a running back specialist this close to training camp -- and a specialist is exactly how some scouts are characterizing the three-time Mountain West Conference honoree.

I'm hearing 6th-7th round for Unga with Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Miami having all expressed some interest. There is some talk Unga could slip out of the draft, entirely. If he did so, I was assured he'd have several teams offering him a free agent contract.

The forecast doesn't appear to be as warm for the two other players eligible to be selected in Thursday's draft.

There doesn't seem to be a great deal of interest brewing for running backs Vanness Emokpae (Truman State) and Quentin Castille.
Posted on: April 24, 2009 7:20 pm

OT that slips by STL could keep slipping...

It is generally assumed that the St. Louis Rams are going to take one of the top tackles with the second overall pick. The consensus is that the pick will be either Baylor's Jason Smith or Virginia's Eugene Monroe.

The tackle not selected by the Rams could take a serious tumble down the board, according to the latest rumors circulating throughout the league.

The Chiefs will consider one of the tackles, especially Monroe, I'm told. However, most believe the Chiefs have locked in on either Wake Forest linebacker or LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson with third pick and will allow either tackle to continue to slide past.

Seattle also has concerns along the offensive line and are thought to be higher on Jason Smith. Still, they seem to be focused more, at this point, on USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Curry, should he remain available.

Cleveland, is obviously set at left tackle with young Pro Bowler Joe Thomas, but may consider one of the tackles for the right side. The fifth overall pick on a right tackle seems is pretty steep, however, especially when insiders suggest the Browns are locking in on either Sanchez or Boston College defensive tackle BJ Raji.

Cincinnati would seem like the logical landing point for the tackles, but I'm told offensive line coach Paul Alexander loves Andre Smith and wants to take him over any other tackle in this draft. Few teams take their position coaches' opinions into account more than the Bengals, and it isn't difficult to understand why, considering the success the Bengals have had in developing several quality (non-first round) offensive linemen over the years, including Eric Steinbach, Stacy Andrews and Andre Whitworth, among others...

The Raiders certainly need help along the offensive line, but I'm told Al Davis is going to devote much of the draft towards acquiring weapons for JaMarcus Russell... I'd argue that protecting his blindside would be a good way to towards helping Russell out, but the Raiders think differently than most teams on draft day and seem to be leaning towards a receiver...

The Jaguars could be the first realistic option for the falling tackle -- and even they are certainly no lock considering the fact that they signed Tra Thomas in free agency... Watch out for a small trade up from Green Bay (#9) or San Francisco (#10) who would each welcome the falling tackle on their team.

Considering the tackle passed by St. Louis at #2 could be available this late, some lucky team may be poised to be one of the few top ten drafting teams to actually get a bargain on draft day.
Posted on: March 12, 2009 10:44 pm

Solid, Unspectacular Pro Day for Freeman


An estimated 15-20 teams attended Kansas State's Pro Day Thursday, mostly to see junior quarterback Josh Freeman. Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City, Seattle, Oakland, Jacksonville, San Francisco, New York (Jets), Tampa Bay, and Minnesota were among the clubs there. Quarterback coaches for the Lions, Seahawks, Bucs, and Vikings were all present.

 Scouts who viewed Freeman's Pro Day workout today described it in much the same words as I described Freeman's Combine workout.

First, the two scouts' take on today's workout:

AFC Scout "He certainly can throw the ball. He's a little wild, but you knew that going in on film. He's got tools, though. Someone's gonna take him in the first and may end up with the best one of the bunch in a few years."

NFC Scout "Ok, not great workout. Big arm, but erratic. Great tools, but needs some refining."

My comments after scouting Freeman at the Combine:

Freeman has good arm strength, but his accuracy was inconsistent. On many of his shorter and intermediate routes, he often was a bit high or wide with his throws. All in all, it was a solid performance, but not the jaw-dropping one some had projected.




Posted on: February 20, 2009 2:23 pm

Stafford, Sanchez Impressive on the Podium


If Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford was as impressive conversing over dinner last night with a contingent of Detroit Lion decision-makers as he was today with the media, the race to the be #1 pick may already be over.

Stafford, who dined with Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew, head coach Jim Schwartz, and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, among others, was dazzling in front of the media today at the NFL Combine. Stafford, who had been portrayed as a bit standoff-ish, was instead, articulate, personable, and genuinely comfortable in the spotlight, even taking an impromptu question from USC quarterback, Mark Sanchez, in stride.

Sanchez fielded questions from the media shortly afterwards and was equally impressive. His easy smile and straight-forward honest answers seemed to prove the reports I'd been given by scouts and those close to the USC program that Sanchez would impress in this format as a natural leader.

Category: NFL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com