2017 NFL Draft

My favorite 20 undrafted free agent pickups

My favorite 20 undrafted free agent pickups

By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
For all of the attention heaped upon first round picks, what separates the good talent evaluators from the great ones is the ability to locate diamonds in the rough in the later rounds and free agency.

Each year I highlight my favorite Diamonds in the Rough prior to the draft. This year, after being inspired by my CBSSports.com colleague Pat Kirwan's release of his 20 favorite undrafted free agents, I wanted to offer my thoughts as to the UFAs I thought could be among those who surprise and make an NFL roster.

Here they are, listed in alphabetical order.

NG Chigbo Anunoby, Indianapolis Colts: Having seen Anunoby's power in person at the NFLPA All-Star game, I believe the former Morehouse defensive tackle could stick on this roster as a developmental nose guard.

S Johnson Bademosi, Cleveland Browns: A lanky corner (who projects to safety) and excelled on special teams at Stanford, Bademosi offers developmental upside at a position of concern.

OG James Brown, Chicago Bears: A physical blocker who proved capable of handling the jump in competition with a solid effort at the Senior Bowl, this former Troy standout could stick on a team needing help up front.

NG Hebron Fangupo, Houston Texans: One of my concerns with the Texans' draft is that they didn't fill their need at nose guard. Fangupo fell on draft day due to medical concerns but he's a quality run-stuffer who could fit the bill.

CB Donnie Fletcher, New York Jets: While not athletic enough to fit every scheme, this former Boston College standout's physicality and long frame could make him effective in the Jets' press scheme.

DT DaJohn Harris, Tennessee Titans: The Titans have plenty of try-hard, reliable interior defenders but few boast this former USC Trojan's athletic upside.

H-back Emil Igwenagu, Philadelphia Eagles: Not every team would be able to take advantage of Igwenagu's unique combination of soft hands and athleticism, but the former UMASS standout could make an impact as an H-back for the Eagles.

S Duke Ihenacho, Denver Broncos: A playmaking safety at San Jose State, Ihenacho could surprise in the Broncos' scheme as a classic in-the-box and special teams standout.

OLB Delano Johnson, Houston Texans: Another raw athlete who stood out at the NFLPA All-Star game, this Bowie State's natural combination of size and pass rush potential could make him a developmental outside linebacker in the Texans' 3-4 scheme.

CB Leonard Johnson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnson is a perfect example of how poor workouts can crush the draft stock of good football player with strong tape. Johnson played very well in primetime showdowns against top competition this year (including vs. Justin Blackmon). For a Bucs' team needing help at corner, he could prove a steal.

WR Dale Moss, Green Bay Packers: The Packers are as stacked at wide receiver as any team in the NFL so it might be difficult for Moss to earn a roster spot. However, the former South Dakota State basketball player boasts intriguing upside worthy of developing.

WR Chris Owusu, San Francisco 49ers: Owusu is one of several players on this list whose medical questions pushed him down the board. No NFL coach knows the impact Owusu could have as a deep threat and on special teams like Harbaugh, his former head coach at Stanford.

RB Chris Polk, Philadelphia Eagles: Like Owusu, Polk's tape warranted being selected in the draft's first three rounds but teams have reservations about his ability to hold up to NFL punishment after several medical issues were identified during tests run at the Combine. If he's able to remain healthy, Polk is an ideal backup for LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia due to his tough running and soft hands out of the backfield.

OT Matt Reynolds, Carolina Panthers: Reynolds' play was too inconsistent at BYU to warrant the hype he'd received early in his career but the four-year starter offers size and experience in a pro-style offense. A safe prospect, I think this former BYU Cougar will find a way onto an NFL roster this fall.

LB Brett Roy, New York Jets: Rex Ryan has shown a willingness to give gritty, unheralded football players a shot despite less than ideal athleticism. Roy, who lined up at defensive tackle thoughout much of his career at Nevada, projects best as a 3-4 inside linebacker. His toughness and intensity will make him a tough cut.

CB Ryan Steed, New York Jets: The third New York Jet UFA highlighted on this list, Steed offers the physicality and intelligence I like at the defensive back position.

TE Andrew Szczerba, Dallas Cowboys: This former Nittany Lion battled durability concerns throughout his career with Penn State but offers a legitimate combination of size, strength and soft hands.

WR Lavasier Tuinea, Seattle Seahawks: Besides boasting arguably the coolest name in unrestricted free agency, the Oregon Ducks' leading receiver last year also boasts the long, lanky frame and soft hands Seahawks' head coach Pete Carroll has shown a preference for over his coaching career in the NFL and NCAA.
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