Hundreds of undrafted free agents whose phones didn't ring in the hours after the end of the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft was completed are about to become much more popular than they were during the four-month lockout.
In a historic situation that prevented NFL contract-related business from being conducted, undrafted free agents can't be signed until the labor mess is sorted out and player transactions are cleared to be processed by the league office.
|Pat Devlin figures to be a serviceable backup in the NFL. (US Presswire)|
Typically, teams are on the phone with their top undrafted free-agent targets throughout the final day of the event, trying to convince them to sign on and many negotiate bigger signing bonuses than late-round draft picks as agents review each team's draft picks and seek the best fits for their clients.
A fair number of talented players from the college ranks remained available after Mr. Irrelevant, Houston Texans linebacker Cheta Ozougwu (from Rice University), was selected with the 254th pick.
Below is a refresher course on the top five players available overall, and the top five at each position when the curtain is finally raised on what is certain to be an entertaining 2011 free agency period.
1. DT Ian Williams, Notre Dame Williams fought through a knee injury in 2010, but his toughness and hustle from the interior could allow him to contribute for a long time as a solid, if not overly flashy, 4-3 nose tackle/one-technique.
2. WR Terrance Toliver, LSU Toliver's tape isn't superior, but his size/speed combination still typically earns an SEC receiver some sort of draft slot. He also looked good at the end of the season and at the East-West Shrine Game. He should latch on with a team interested in a vertical route-runner with enough size to create mismatches against smaller cornerbacks.
3. QB Pat Devlin, Delaware The Penn State transfer did not impress scouts with his arm strength at the East-West Shrine Game or his pro day, but his performance was not so poor that most didn't expect him to be drafted late. Though he ran primarily out of shotgun for the Blue Hens, he came out from under center at Penn State and has the size, athleticism and intelligence to stick on a roster as a backup or potential spot starter.
4. CB Ryan Jones, Northwest Missouri State It was surprising that a solid cornerback who produced for a powerhouse Division II program and who blew up his pro day (40-inch vertical, 4.46 40 at 5-11, 198 pounds, 19 reps of 225 pounds) went undrafted. He is raw in his coverage and tackling techniques to be sure, but it won't be surprising to see him stick as a nickel back with potential as a starter down the line.
5. DT Martin Parker, Richmond Another small-school prospect, Parker showed up big-time at the East-West Shrine Game, but teams didn't appreciate his film enough to select him even late in the draft. Given time and coaching, Parker could be an interesting three-technique prospect who provides pass rush as a high-effort wave player.
Top Undrafted Players by Position
1. Adam Froman (Louisville)
2. Taylor Potts (Texas Tech)
3. Adam Weber (Minnesota)
4. Josh Portis (California (PA))
5. Scott Tolzien (Wisconsin)
|Derrick Locke is a solid option for teams searching for running back depth. (US Presswire)|
2. Noel Devine (West Virginia)
3. Mario Fannin (Auburn)
4. Damien Berry (Miami)
5. Brandon Saine (Ohio State)
1. Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)
2. Darvin Adams (Auburn)
3. Ricardo Lockette (Fort Valley State)
4. Jeff Maehl (Oregon)
5. Armon Binns (Cincinnati)
1. Andre Smith (Virginia Tech)
2. Schuylar Oordt (Northern Iowa)
3. Collin Franklin (Iowa State)
4. Weslye Saunders (South Carolina)
5. Zack Pianalto (North Carolina)
1. Derek Hall (Stanford)
2. Willie Smith (East Carolina)
3. David Mims (Virginia Union)
4. D.J. Young (Michigan State)
5. Trevis Turner (Abilene Christian)
1. Zach Hurd (Connecticut)
2. Ray Dominguez (Arkansas)
3. Carl Johnson (Florida)
4. Justin Boren (Ohio State)
5. Andrew Phillips (Stanford)
1. Kris O'Dowd (Southern Cal)
2. Zane Taylor (Utah)
3. Tim Barnes (Missouri)
4. Jake Kirkpatrick (TCU)
5. Alex Linnenkohl (Oregon State)
1. Ugo Chinasa (Oklahoma State)
2. Brandon Bair (Oregon)
3. Pierre Allen (Nebraska)
4. Eddie Jones (Texas)
5. Marc Schiechl (Colorado School of Mines)
1. Cedric Thornton (Southern Arkansas)
2. Ollie Ogbu (Penn State)
3. Sealver Siliga (Utah)
4. Anthony Gray (Southern Miss)
5. Corbin Bryant (Northwestern)
|The inspirational Mark Herzlich is one of the best linebackers in the undrafted pool. (US Presswire)|
2. Mario Harvey (Marshall)
3. Josh Bynes (Auburn)
4. Nick Bellore (Central Michigan)
5. Orie Lemon (Oklahoma State)
1. Adrian Moten (Maryland)
2. Mark Herzlich (Boston College)
3. Jeremiha Hunter (Iowa)
4. Scott Lutrus (Connecticut)
5. Thomas Keiser (Stanford)
1. Kendric Burney (North Carolina)
2. Loyce Means (Houston)
3. Talmadge Jackson III (Oregon)
4. Kevin Rutland (Missouri)
5. Darrin Walls (Notre Dame)
1. Deunta Williams (North Carolina)
2. Jerrard Tarrant (Georgia Tech)
3. Anthony Walters (Delaware)
4. Will Hill (Florida)
5. Brian Lainhart (Kent State)
1. DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson)
2. Joe Lefeged (Rutgers)
3. Jeron Johnson (Boise State)
4. Mana Silva (Hawaii)
5. David Sims (Iowa State)
1. Kai Forbath (UCLA)
2. Josh Jasper (LSU)
3. Dan Bailey (Oklahoma State)
4. Chas Henry (Florida)
5. Ryan Donahue (Iowa)
Chad Reuter is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange.