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Predicting the Top 10 Undrafted Free Agents Who Will Come from the Rookie Class

Adam OdekirkContributor IIMay 23, 2012

Predicting the Top 10 Undrafted Free Agents Who Will Come from the Rookie Class

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    Every year without fail in the NFL an undrafted free agent makes good in the big show, but the trick is trying to determine which players will rise to the occasion when given the chance.

    Sometimes it takes more than a year to get noticed, as was the case with Victor Cruz, but eventually their talent wins out and makes them breakout stars in the NFL.

    This seasons class offers a promising crop of new players trying to beat the odds and become the next great success story in the NFL.

    Here are 10 who could have a really good opportunity of doing so.

Eric Page, WR, Denver Broncos

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    Page is certainly coming into a situation where a lot of receivers will be given a chance to shine with Peyton Manning now slinging the ball in Denver.

    If Page had put up the kind of numbers that he did in his senior season (125 receptions, 1,182 yards, 10 TDs) at a major conference school, his draft status would have been very high.

    There is a lot of competition for the position in Denver, but Page was an explosive player with the ball in his hands at Toledo. If he gets a chance to shine, he may become a very productive receiver in Denver, piling up big yardage. 

Chase Ford, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Andy Reid has long been considered an offensive genius and he likely doesn't want to sit around too long and wait to find himself a tight end like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. 

    Chase Ford has the size (6'7'') to exploit a lot of match ups in the NFL if he can learn how to be a good route runner, and thrive in the Michael Vick led offense.

    It may be a long shot, because if Ford had the requisite experience and skills he would been drafted elsewhere, but Andy Reid could give him a chance to flourish in the NFL.

Tyler Nielsen, OLB, Minnesota Vikings

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    The Minnesota Vikings are looking to get younger on defense in some areas, and that might give Tyler Nielsen a chance to find a spot on the field.

    Iowa defenders will never lack for effort and football smarts, which bodes well for Nielsen's chances to catch on in Minnesota. His energy, effort and athleticism could turn him into a surprising tackle machine at the next level.

Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Cincinnati Bengals

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    I will be fair here and admit that Burfict showed up on my list of riskiest undrafted free agents, but his talent is hard to deny, and that is why he is the rare player who could legitimately exist on both lists simultaneously.

    Were it not for concerns unrelated to football, Burfict had been discussed as a player who could be drafted in the first round, and that kind of talent is hard to ignore.

    Historically, Cincinnati has been a place where players haven't been able to help but get in trouble, but that tide could be turning, and Burfict could benefit from that.

Marcus Forston, DT, New England

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    Injuries and a lack of effort caused the underclassman to fall out of the ranks of the drafted players, but at this point players are being evaluated for potential—and Forston has it.

    It's a risky proposition for the Patriots to expect much out of a player who has been criticized in the same manner as Albert Haynesworth, but something tells me that his new surroundings will cause the big defensive lineman to tap into his vast potential and thrive in a place where he could become a Super Bowl champion.

Chase Minnifield, CB, Washington Redskins

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    Minnifield is coming off a serious micro fracture injury that required surgery, but has looked solid in his offseason workouts so far. 

    It would appear that the Washington Redskins have scored so far with Minnifield getting onto the field sooner than expected, and if he can perform at the level that many hoped he would have prior to the injury, then he will easily be the most successful CB of the undrafted free agent class.

Neiko Thorpe, FS, Kansas City Chiefs

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    It's not often that players who have a National Championship on their resume make it to the undrafted ranks, but Thorpe is likely the victim of a tough year for need at his position.

    He was a solid producer for an Auburn team that played a tough slate of games in the SEC and can contribute in rush defense and pass defense, as evidenced by his over 100 tackles and three interceptions in 2011.

Michael Brewster, C, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Brewster comes from the right pedigree at one of college footballs most historic schools in Ohio State, but he may have been hurt by the lower profile that Ohio State had this past season.

    Regardless, new coach Mike Mularkey will be looking to mold the Jaguars in his image and Brewster could be a strong, smart man in the middle of Mularkey's new offense sooner than later.

Case Keenum, QB, Houston Texans

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    The Houston Texans have a strong track record of spotting talent at the quarterback position, but it wasn't hard to see the talent that Keenum possessed based on his gaudy statistics at the Univeristy of Houston.

    He probably wont find a starting job in Houston, unless tragedy strikes the line up again, but if he sticks around and demonstrates growth, he could have a better shot at an NFL career than maybe even Kellen Moore.

Rodney Stewart, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

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    "Speedy" Stewart was a largely under utilized, or poorly utilized, commodity at the University of Colorado. However, when given the opportunity, "Speedy" delivered and still managed to average almost 4.5 yards a carry in his career.

    Another great stat is that Stewart's yards per carry got better in every quarter of the game, which helps to dispel the myth that his size could be a detractor to his potential NFL success by being beaten up as the game goes along.

    The Bengals could be a team that have two rookies starring in their backfield after the departure of Cedric Benson.

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