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: April 23, 2011 12:12 pm
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)
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
--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
--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter
Posted on: March 31, 2011 8:17 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2011 8:17 pm
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.
Posted on: February 21, 2011 9:21 pm
In the race to be the first quarterback selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, Auburn's Cam Newton is getting a head start over Missouri' Blaine Gabbert.
Newton, according to the NFL Network , has decided he will be throwing passes at this week's Combine. Gabbert, according to USA Today's Jim Corbett , is not expected to throw in Indianapolis and will instead wait until his Pro Day.
Both quarterbacks have questions to answer after starring in spread offenses in college. The schemes were shotgun-heavy and simplified the reads with which each passer had to make. Scouts want to see how well Newton and Gabbert drop back from center and how accurately they throw on the move.
Newton and Gabbert's decisions, though opposite, weren't entirely unexpected.
Newton successfully created a buzz for himself in holding a media-only throwing session February 11 outside of San Diego, California. If he'd elected to not throw at the Combine, Newton would have risked killing whatever momentum he'd built for himself and potentially angering NFL teams.
Gabbert, on the other hand, is considered by most to be this year's top quarterback. As the leader, the pressure isn't quite as great on him to perform. While NFL scouts certainly would love to see Gabbert show some competitive spirit and throw in Indianapolis, it is pretty tough to argue with his decision. After all, the agency that represents Gabbert -- Creative Artists Agency -- has represented several quarterbacks in recent years who elected not to work out at the Combine and successfully boosted their stock with strong Pro Day performances. Recent CAA quarterbacks include Sam Bradford, Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan. Each elected not to throw in Indianapolis. Bradford and Stafford were the No. 1 overall picks of the 2010 and 2009 drafts, respectively. Ryan was the first quarterback selected and the third overall pick in 2008.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:31 am
Edited on: December 28, 2010 11:36 am
As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, I was recently asked to fill out my ballot for the All-Rookie Team.
While I reserve the right to change players over the final week of the season (and welcome your review) , this is how I have things now.
Offensive Rookie of the Year : Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay
Defensive Rookie of the Year : Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit
Overall Rookie of the Year : Suh
Quarterback: Sam Bradford, Rams: If he can go on the road and beat Seattle to win the NFC West, Bradford may overtake Williams as my Offensive ROY, but I'm not giving it to him just because he's a QB, went No. 1 and played well early. Bradford has faded late this year.
Running back: LaGarrette Blount, Bucs: Free agent leads all NFL rookies with 941 rushing yards while splitting duty.
Running back: Chris Ivory, Saints: Can't overstate how vital of a role the free agent played with injuries to Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas.
Wide receiver: Mike Williams, Bucs: Has been dynamic all year long. Leads rookie WRs in grabs (61), yards (924) and TDs (10).
Wide receiver: Dez Bryant, Cowboys: Only started twice and injury sidelined him early but Dez was dazzling.
Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: Second to Williams in receiving TDs as a rookie with nine; which leads the Patriots.
Center: Mike Pouncey, Steelers: Deserves some Offensive Rookie of the Year consideration. A standout here since Day One.
Offensive guard: Mike Iupati, 49ers: A bit inconsistent, but has improved throughout the year and been one of SF's few bright spots.
Offensive guard: Ted Larsen, Bucs: Cut by Pats, signed by Bucs and has started the past 10 consecutive at LG for contending Bucs, giving him the edge over Zane Beadles in Denver.
Offensive tackle: Rodger Saffold, Rams: Overshadowed by Bradford, but has been quietly spectacular at LT this season.
Offensive tackle: Bryan Bulaga, Packers: Has been beaten at times, but versatility is key. Backup at LT, OG early. Has started last 10 at RT.
Defensive lineman: Carlos Dunlap, Bengals: Situational pass rusher (zero starts) for Bengals, but quietly is 2nd amongst rookies with 8 sacks.
Defensive lineman: Ndamukong Suh, Lions: Leads all NFL defensive tackles -- not just rookies -- in tackles (60) and sacks (nine).
Defensive lineman: Tyson Alualu, Jaguars: A surprise at No. 10? Yes. A reach? No, considering he's 3rd amongst rookie DTs in tackles, 2nd in sacks.
Defensive lineman: Lamarr Houston, Raiders: Similar #s, greater consistency, less help around him than Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul.
Linebacker: Pat Angerer, Colts: Quietly leads all rookie linebackers in tackles this season (80).
Linebacker: Daryl Washington, Cardinals: Doesn't have Ro McClain's big name or even quite his stats, but has been more impressive this year.
Linebacker: Koa Misi, Dolphins: Overshadowed by Cameron Wake, but versatility standing out (36 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 TD)
Cornerback: Devin McCourty, Patriots: In a typical year, he'd likely win the Defensive ROY. 81 tackles, 21 PBUs, 6 INTs, 2 FF for AFC's No. 1 seed.
Cornerback: Joe Haden, Browns: Similar numbers as McCourty - 58 tackles, 23 PBUs, 6 INTs, 1 FF.
Safety: Eric Berry, Chiefs: Gets nod over Earl Thomas as he's played better late for contending team. 84 tackles, 13 PBUs, 4 INTs, 1 FF, 1 TD.
Safety: TJ Ward, Browns: Leads all rookies in tackles (116) and is second only to Suh in intimidation. Big hitter over the middle.
Placekicker: Clint Stitser, Bengals: 7 for 7 in FGs (though he's missed two PATs) since signing as UFA. Weak year for rookie kickers.
Punter: Zolton Mesko, Patriots: Unheralded component of Pats' success. Averaging 43 yards per and has zero blocked, returned for TDs against him.
Kickoff returner: Jacoby Ford, Raiders: Tied with Leon Washington for most kickoff return TDs this season (3).
Punt returner: Marc Mariani, Titans: Better avg. on KOR than Ford; also dynamic as a punt returner. Has returned TDs both ways.
You can always expect the best coverage of the draft at NFLDraftScout.com.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:25 am
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Posted on: September 8, 2010 9:06 pm
My CBS collegeagues Clark Judge and Pete Prisco made their NFL predictions here and here .
I thought I'd chime in with my thoughts, as well.
AFC East: Dolphins, Patriots, Jets, Bills
AFC North: Ravens, Bengals*, Steelers, Browns
AFC South: Colts, Texans*, Titans, Jaguars
AFC West: Chargers, Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos
NFC East: Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, Redskins
NFC North: Packers, Vikings*, Lions, Bears
NFC South: Saints, Falcons,* Panthers, Buccaneers
NFC West: 49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks, Rams
Super Bowl pick: Packers over Ravens
MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers. Most talented combination of QB, skill position and OL. He's a strong, strong favorite in my mind.
Offensive Player of the Year: RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings. Favre struggles this time, so Viks are forced to rely on AP (who gets over the fumblitis).
Defensive Player of the Year: ILB Patrick Willis, 49ers: When Willis leads the league in tackles this time (he did in 2010), fans will notice as the 49ers will run away with the NFC West (and potentially a bye).
Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers. Mathews has talent and Norv Turner is going to give him every opportunity to be a star.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: DE Brandon Graham, Eagles. Perfect fit for this defense. Watch out for Oakland MLB Ro McClain too. Another perfect fit.
Comeback/Breakout Player of the Year: WR Mike Williams, Seahawks. Remember this guy? Pete Carroll does. I've seen it myself . Williams is back.
Stepback Player of the Year: RB Brandon Jacobs, Giants. I considered Favre, but he's too easy of a target with Sidney Rice's injury. Jacobs looked washed up last year and in the preseason. With the Giants giving Ahmad Bradshaw the nod, Jacobs could disappear in 2010.
Team on the Rise: Dolphins. Solid running game, Henne has the arm to keep Brandon Marshall focused, and DC Mike Nolan is among the best in the biz.
Team on the Decline: Bears. Spent their free agent millions on positions of relative strength, rather than their gaping weakness (OL).
Best Free Agent Pickup: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lions. Love this player for this team. Steady vet helps Suh make this D formidable.
Worst Free Agent Pickup: WR Antonio Bryant, Bengals. Considering he's already off the team, how can there be a worse move?
Posted on: March 31, 2009 11:48 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2009 11:55 pm
On the day the young quarterback I've often compared to Jay Cutler did his best to earn the first selection of the 2009 draft, Jay Cutler, himself, threw his own hat into the fray.
Denver Bronco team owner Pat Bowlen released a statement to the media today indicating that conversations with Cutler's agent, James "Bus" Cook has left the Broncos' brass with the understanding "that Jay no longer has any desire to play for the Denver Broncos."
Rather than continue to try and appease the angry quarterback, however, Bowlen went on to state, "We will begin discussions with other teams in an effort to accommodate his request to be traded."
Each of the teams rumored to be interested in drafting a quarterback in the first round -- namely the Lions, Rams, Seahawks, Browns, Jaguars, 49ers, Redskins, Jets, Bears, and Bucs -- are thought to be potentially interested. Of this group, St. Louis, Seattle, Jacksonville, Washington and Chicago have all made the playoffs under their current starting quarterback, and thus, while potentially interested in a young passer to groom, won't necessarily be as interested in adding a veteran -- even one as talented as Cutler -- therefore, leaving the Lions, Browns, 49ers, Jets, and Bucs as the most obvious candidates for the Pro Bowl quarterback.
The going rate for a quarterback of Cutler's age and skills would be at least a first round pick; likely with extra compensation to be had based on Cutler or his new team's performance in 2009.
The Bucs, with only one first day pick -- the 19th overall -- would appear to be in the worst position to bargain of these four teams, as each of the others have their 1st and 2nd round picks in which to barter...