Posted on: August 30, 2011 9:01 am
Edited on: August 30, 2011 2:06 pm
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.
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Andre Gurode, Brad Noel, California of PA, Cedric Thornton, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit, Doug Baldwin, East Carolina, Hampton, Iowa, Josh Portis, Kevin Kowalski, Lions, Maryland, New England Patriots, NFLDraftScout.com, Philadelphia Eagles, Redskins, Ricardo Silva, Ryan Donahue, Seahawks, Southern Arkansas, Stanford, Toledo, UDFA, undrafted free agents, Will Yeatman, Willie Smith
Posted on: February 1, 2011 8:34 am
What the Texas vs Nation Game lacks in history, it sure is making up for in talent.
Renamed the NFLPA Game this year, the senior all-star game has only been operating since 2007. When it began, it was considered to be roughly the equivalant of the Hula Bowl, featuring a few draft-worthy prospects but certainly not ranking with the East-West Shrine Game or Senior Bowl.
This year's class, however, boasts a roster that can match the Shrine Game and, unlike the Senior Bowl which scouts complain caters to the media as much as NFL personnel, the Texas vs. Nation game makes things easy on scouts. Teams are given "unbelievable access to the players" according to one long-time scout, making the interview process that every team makes a priority during these events a much more efficient process.
Most importantly, the San Antonio-based game is developing quite a reputation for talent. According to the game's official website, 93% of the 2009 roster (111 of 119) went on to sign NFL contracts. CEO Kenny Hansmire and Player Personnel Consultant John Murphy deserve a great deal of credit.
There is legitimately mid round talent at every position and plenty of sleeper candidates throughout the roster, as well. Below are my top ten prospects for the Texas and Nation teams. For a look at the complete roster, click here .
Texas Team (players born in Texas or played collegiately there)
As you'd expect from NFLDraftScout.com , we'll be represented in San Antonio throughout the week of practice. Fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter will be checking in with daily practice reports that will be either featured stories on the main site or here on the blog.
Posted on: October 18, 2010 11:37 am
This week's Diamond in the Rough is provided by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter. Any comments should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Most people may think that a scout watching Saturday's Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division match-up between Slippery Rock and California (PA) would be focused on Cal's quarterback, Josh Portis. The former Florida and Maryland passer had some up and downs during the contest (10-13, 150 yards, 3 TD, but took 5 sacks) in the team's 28-3 win -- but when Portis was on the sideline, my eyes joined those of many scouts in checking out the Rock's four-year starting center, Brandon Fusco.
Posted on: September 20, 2010 6:43 pm
As I mentioned in my last post, we thought that the Player of the Week and Diamond in the Rough deserved more acknowledgement than they received in the past as part of our Draft Slant coverage. Thus, each Monday I'll highlight the award recipients here on the blog.
Player of the Week, along with The Diamond in the Rough (small school prospect), used to be features of Draft Slant . This PDF file can be purchased as an individual issue or one can purchase the entire year (16 issues). Or, if you just want to see an example, you can download this free sample of Week One here .
I considered several prospects for Diamond in the Rough this week, but with so many of the prolific senior quarterback prospects struggling, I couldn't look past the opportunity to review California (PA) signal-caller Josh Portis, who only a few years ago was expected to be the heir apparent to one Tim Tebow at the University of Florida.
Diamond in the Rough -- September 18, 2010
QB Josh Portis, California (PA) 6-4 / 208 / 4.67 -- opponent East Stroudsburg State
Portis, the cousin of Washington Redskins' running back Clinton Portis, was a prep star at William Howard Taft high school in California who was recruited by many of the biggest schools in the country as a quarterback and multi-purpose athlete. He signed with Florida, but only lasted with Urban Meyers team one year. He saw action immediately, however, playing in six of 11 games and completing six of 11 passes during that time for 81 yards and no touchdowns (one interception). Portis elected to transfer to the University of Maryland following his first season and was forced to sit out the 2006 season per NCAA regulations. He was allowed to practice with his Terp teammates, however, and was credited with the Scout Offensive Player of the Year honors following the season. Portis was expected to compete for the starting role a year later, but was suspended for academics (reportedly for cheating on a quiz). He struggled to get playing time with the Terps and ultimately elected to transfer again, this time to California (PA). It didn't take him long to establish himself as a man among boys at this level. Portis broke school records on his way to completing 224 of 407 passes for 3,421 yards and 36 touchdowns. Perhaps not surprisingly, it didn't take Portis long to impress against East Stroudsburg State Saturday, either. The lanky senior quarterback completed a 43-yard bomb down the left sideline on his first pass -- correctly recognizing that he had single coverage on that side. The ball, thrown with good trajectory and accuracy, was completed despite tight coverage. Only a few players later, Portis, dropping back from center, looked off the safety and drilled a crossing route over the middle for his first touchdown of the day. There has been a knock on Portis throughout his career that he's relied on his athleticism, rather than focusing on the little things that quaterbacks need to be successful in the NFL -- especially considering the jump he'll be making from the D-II level. Throughout this contest at least, Portis showed enough natural throwing ability to strongly consider for senior all-star games. He has worked under some heavy hitters in Urban Meyer, Ralph Friedgen and even former Pitt and Stanford head coach Walt Harris, who now serves as California's offensive coordinator. Any kind of endorsement from these coaches and NFL scouts will certainly be taking a peek at this talented passer. If given an opportunity in a senior all-star game or the Combine, Portis could rise into one of the more intriguing developmental passers in the 2011 draft.