In my previous article I took a look at nine of my highest-rated NFL undrafted free agents and attempted to illuminate what the possible reasons were for their ultimate draft-day demises. Today's piece takes a crack at five UDFAs buried on the waiver wire; names our readers may not even be familiar with let alone with which teams they have signed.
There are different reasons that certain players, who do not hear their names called in the draft, come out more famous than others. It can be their prominence on a Bowl Championship Subdivision bowl-winning team, name recognition from carrying a draftable grade earlier in the process or even up through Day 3 or being on the short list of fits at a certain position and/or within a specific scheme.
Contrastingly, there are various possible explanations for why other post-draft signees carry little to no fanfare during the evaluation, draft and even signing periods. It can be due to a lower level of play resulting in less national exposure, substandard production due to injury or marginalization or even the perception that a prospect lacks the physical tools to project much upside to the next level.
Seattle Seahawks 2011 rookie slot receiver Doug Baldwin is an excellent recent example of a fairly obscure UDFA signing who paid instant dividends with his performance. Following only one year of starter-production at Stanford University, when he failed to eclipse 60 receptions-900 receiving yards-10 touchdowns, Baldwin was not even invited to the combine as a smaller (5'10" 190 lbs.) weaker wideout prospect.
He finished the NFL regular season with 51 catches for 792 yards, averaging 15.5 yards per and four scores.
Not all UDFA hidden treasure, let alone rookies of any procurement origin, will produce so well in their first year. And there is plenty to be gained with a signing like this that percolates on the practice squad, or is even nabbed off of one, and must develop for several years before ripening into cost-effective functionality.
Perhaps one of the five names unearthed in this slide will make a Baldwin-type freshman impact in 2012 or be someone that hits in several years that our community looks back on then and scratches its collective head.