Posted on: April 27, 2010 1:01 pm
Each year there are players who slip through the cracks into undrafted free agency that, quite frankly, I'm stunned aren't drafted.
Here is my list of players who were undrafted but I feel could find a roster spot in the NFL.
Today I'm highlighting the defensive players (as well as their NFL franchise). Yesterday I listed the offensive players.
DE: Brandon Lang, Troy (signed by San Diego)
DT: Nate Collins, Virginia (signed by New York Giants)
DT: Jay Ross, East Carolina (signed by New Orleans)
DE: Mitch Unrein, Wyoming (signed by Tennessee)
OLB: Reggie Carter, UCLA (signed by Seattle)
ILB: Micah Johnson, Kentucky (signed by New York Giants)
OLB: Simoni Lawrence, Minnesota (signed by St. Louis)
CB: Patrick Stoudamire, Jr, Western Illinois (signed by San Francisco)
SS: Barry Church, Toledo (signed by Dallas)
FS: Jon Amaya, Nevada (signed by Miami)
CB: Devin Ros, Arizona (signed by Philadelphia)
Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: April 7, 2010 7:00 pm
Building momentum up to draft day is one of the key ingredients savvy agents and talented players often use to earn high selections. Though NFL teams have been tirelessly working on their draft boards over the past month, several players each year often get "bumped" at the last minute due to impressive workouts, interviews or just creating a general "buzz."
As we tightened our rankings in preparation for the profiles and rankings update available in our new PDF Draft Guide (available for download here ), I noticed that five players kept being mentioned by league sources as players moving up the board.
These five players I've listed below:
Quarterback Tim Tebow, Florida: You've heard or read the talk everywhere about his rising up draft boards and my sources are confirming the same thing. Tebow is dazzling coaches in interviews, leading some scouts -- who try to show coaches Tebow's flawed film -- frustrated with how quickly and high the former Heisman winner is being moved up the board. According to sources, Tebow is a virtual lock to be off the board by the mid second round and is gaining momentum as a late first round pick.
Defensive Tackle Linval Joseph, East Carolina: Overshadowed a bit at ECU by DE CJ Wilson and DT Jay Ross, Joseph is the one that has the most interesting blend of NFL size (6-5, 328) and athleticism. Scouts would like to see him put it all together and be a more consistent player, but his tools have some clubs talking about him as a potential 2nd round prospect.
Cornerback Alterran Verner, UCLA: Verner can thank gutty, undersized corners like Christopher Owens (3rd round pick by Atlanta in 2009) for his rise up the board. Like Owens, Verner isn't a blazer, but he's highly competitive and has been a consistent standout throughout his career. Scouts are characterizing him as one of the safer cornerbacks in the class and feel that he could earn a similar selection as Owens, who started six games for the Falcons as a rookie.
Cornerback Myron Lewis, Vanderbilt: Following his solid Pro Day performance March 20, I touted Lewis as one of the more underrated defensive backs in the 2010 draft and scouts are telling me that we're still ranking him too low. Lewis starred at cornerback for the Commodores and some teams believe he has the agility to remain at this position in the NFL despite measuring in at 6-2, 203 pounds. We currently have Lewis rated as a free safety and a 4th-5th round pick, but I've spoken to clubs that feel he'll be off the board in the 3rd.
FS Robert Johnson, Utah: Despite not getting invited to the Combine, Johnson is one of the fastest rising names in the draft. He measured in heavier than scouts expected at his Pro Day (6-2, 203 pounds) and turned in blazing times in the short shuttle and 3-cone drills. In fact, his 4.06 second short shuttle and 6.56 second 3-cone times were faster than those recorded by any safety in Indianapolis. A natural ballhawk with 13 interceptions over the past three seasons, Johnson has visited or been privately worked out by a half-dozen teams.
Posted on: March 1, 2010 1:44 pm
Former SEC standout Mitch Petrus, a guard from Arkansas, tied the Combine record with 45 repetitions of 225 pounds late last week.
An old foe, Georgia defensive tackle Jeff Owens, nearly matched him Monday, lifting the bar 44 times.
Owens' prowess in the weight room is no surprise. While not blessed with great quickness, his strength at the point of attack has made him one of the better run stuffers in the conference over his career.
East Carolina defensive tackle Linval Joseph (39) and Owens' former teammate, Geno Atkins (34) and UCLA's Brian Price (34) also were quite impressive in the weight room.
Posted on: March 31, 2009 8:51 pm
Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson and Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman were among the scouts on hand to watch several UCLA Bruins perform in their Pro Day on the eve of the USC workout -- the last of the big Pro Days -- tomorrow.
The workout began with the disappointing news that oft-injured quarterback Ben Olson had once again hurt his right foot and would be unable to participate. Olson was rated as the top prep quarterback in the country in 2002, but has struggled with durability throughout his career and has broken bones in his right foot three times in the past year.
Another Bruin quarterback Patrick Cowan, who was not invited to the Combine, elected not to run and wasn't impressive in throwing drills, according to scouts in attendance, despite working with head coach Rick Neuheisel in preparation for the event.
The Bruins' one Combine-invite -- running back Kahlil Bell was unable to dramatically improve upon the disappointing 4.74 time he registered at the Combine in the 40-yard dash by clocking in the 4.7s again.
Scouts said the most impressive workouts were actually posted by punter Aaron Perez and by defensive linemen Tom Blake and Brigham Harwell.
Perez looked good in positional workouts, showing the strong leg that has led to his #7 ranking among all punters according to NFLDraftScout.com.
Blake, a little used defensive end who missed much of his senior campaign due to a sports hernia, showed better speed than expected, running in the 4.6s at 6-3, 265 pounds.
Harwell, who flashed enough in the first game of the season (Tennessee) to warrant my writing him up in Draft Slant, NFLDraftScout.com's weekly PDF available throughout the collegiate season, helped his cause by lifting the bench 36 times. Harwell, 6-1, 292 pounds, lacks the size and athleticism teams are looking for and has struggled with durability throughout his career, but still earned second team Pac-10 honors last year.
Posted on: March 30, 2009 3:29 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2009 3:39 pm
With the draft less than a month away most teams are settling their draft boards. One player whose stock remains very much in flux is Tennessee defensive end/outside linebacker Robert Ayers.
There appear to be two camps when it comes to Ayers. Some teams view him as a top ten prospect. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network, whose opinion I respect, recently ranked Ayers as the 5th best player in the entire 2009 draft. Other teams, however, view Ayers as a second round prospect -- and a marginal one at that.
I contacted four teams about Ayers -- two AFC teams and two NFC teams. Two of the clubs operate primarily out of the 4-3, two primarily out of the 3-4 defense. The reviews were stunningly mixed. One 3-4 team loves him. The other ranks him as the 8th best pass rushing OLB prospect of the draft. Similar results came from the 4-3 teams. Each viewed him strictly as a 4-3 defensive end in their scheme.
I respect the opinions of my contacts in the league, but ultimately, I trust my own eyes more than anyone else's. Therefore, I went back to the film. I own game-film of 6 Tennessee games (UCLA, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Wyoming, Kentucky), as well as the Senior Bowl. After two days of reviewing these tapes, I feel comfortable with my current grade of a late first round to early second round grade.
Ayers, 6-3 (3/8), 272 pounds, primarily lined up as the right defensive end out of the 4-3 alignment in the 6 UT games viewed. This is the position he lined up throughout the week of practice at the Senior Bowl, as well. I have detailed notes from those practices, as well as the Senior Bowl, itself, in which Ayers earned Defensive MVP honors with 3 tackles, including 1.5 sacks. I thought that Ayers was arguably the most impressive player early in the week of practice in Mobile and wrote as much in my Monday and Tuesday reviews of the South practices.
Monday: The surprise was vs. Oher was Ayers, whose quickness off the snap, strength to anchor and dizzying array of counter moves enabled him to beat Oher at times and consistently proved too much for lesser pass blockers. If he can build upon his initial showing with a strong week of practice, Ayers could be the latest example of players catapulting up draft boards with a strong performance in Mobile.
Tuesday: Perhaps due to the colossal battles waged between Oher and Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers on Monday, the two were rarely matched up against each other for this second practice. After an eye-opening initial practice, Ayers struggled with lesser blockers early Tuesday. He picked up his play as the one on ones heated up, however, and finished practice playing with the fervor he’d shown a day earlier. His final snaps of the scrimmage Tuesday, in fact, were spent bull-rushing Tulane tackle Troy Kropog onto his back during one play and using a beautiful swim move to cleanly get past the Green Wave blocker and into the backfield on the next.
The concern I and others have with Ayers is twofold. For one, he didn't establish himself as even a starting caliber player until his senior season despite signing with the Vols as one of the most highly touted preps in the country. Until this season, he was viewed by many as a bit of a bust. Secondly, even though he was as good as any defensive lineman in the SEC this season (and that is saying something) and absolutely deserved the 1st team conference honors he received this year (49 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss), he finished with only 3 sacks.
Based on the film, Ayers consistently plays to his level of competition. His most dominant game (statistically-speaking) was against Georgia, which unfortunately, I don't have film of. Against Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith, Ayers showed good burst, impressive strength to shed, good agility and vision when redirecting and hustle. These were the same attributes I saw against Oher in the Senior Bowl practices.
Against lesser talent in the Wyoming and UCLA losses, however, Ayers disappeared too long for my taste.
Ayers' fluidity improved so dramatically from his Combine performance and Pro Day, that I can understand why some are very excited about him. Those close to the Tennessee program rave about his emergence as a senior leader and there is no denying his athleticism. While he predominately lined up at right defensive end, he also moved inside to defensive tackle, at times, to the left defensive end and was a standup pass rusher from either side, as well. He is not truly explosive off the snap, but can bend under the tackle and has very good lateral quickness to "get skinny" and beat the offensive tackle back inside after a jab-step to the outside to tackle runners for loss.
He has the versatility that every team is looking for and the opinion that he could be an ascending talent will likely push him into the first round -- but there is significant boom or bust potential here.
For these reasons, Ayers was characterized to me by a high ranking official of one of the four teams as "the most polarizing defender who's gonna go in the top 50. Some love him. Some are only luke-warm on him. He's moving up though..."