10 Undrafted Free Agents NFL Fans Should Be Watching in OTAs

Marcelo VillaCorrespondent IIMay 30, 2012

10 Undrafted Free Agents NFL Fans Should Be Watching in OTAs

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    Quality players were left without a home after the 2012 NFL draft, but it didn't take very long for teams to come knocking.

    Some of the league's best players went undrafted, and there is certainly potential for the next star to come out of this group of young studs.

    Get used to hearing these names called, because not only are they talented, but they have an even bigger chip on their shoulder to prove why they should have been drafted.

10. Case Keenum, Houston Texans, QB

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    The NCAA's all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions couldn't catch a break on draft day, but the Houston Texans elected to give the homegrown Houston alum a shot.

    Case Keenum faces an uphill battle trying to make a Texans squad with two confident quarterbacks in Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates.

    However, Schaub is entering the final year of his contract after suffering a season-ending foot injury in 2011, and while Yates did get his feet wet during the playoffs last season, it was no indication that he's ready to take the reins just yet.

    Like former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, Keenum was passed on because of his size in addition to his lack of experience in a pro-style offense. Both quarterbacks were successful in college, but they didn't match the requirements of NFL scouts.

    Keenum could give Yates a run for his money if he impresses coaches at OTAs, thus preparing Houston for Schaub's eventual departure.

9. Michael Brewster, Jacksonville Jaguars, C

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    As one of the top centers available in the draft, Ohio State's Michael Brewster was expecting to get a phone call on day two or three during draft weekend, but that phone call never came.

    As luck would have it, Brewster ended up signing a free-agent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, just a few hours from his hometown.

    Thirteen-year veteran Brad Meester still anchors the center of Jacksonville's offensive line, but the 35-year-old could be nearing retirement as he enters the final year of his four-year contract. Backing up Meester is third-year man John Estes, another undrafted center out of Hawaii in 2010.

    Meester will be the guy in 2012, but the winner of an Estes/ Brewster position battle could very well lead to Jacksonville's future starter.

    The Jaguars likely have a gem on their hands if Brewster plays like the same guy who started all four years for the Buckeyes.

8. Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Seahawks, WR

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    The Seattle Seahawks didn't have to look very far for receiver help after the draft, as Jermaine Kearse was sitting right in their very own backyard, fresh out of Washington.

    The acquisition of Kellen Winslow is a definite upgrade on offense, but the Seahawks need to find some playmakers in their receiving corps as well.

    Kearse's production dropped last season after a stellar 2010 in which he led the NCAA in touchdown receptions with 12, but his speed at the receiver position shouldn't be overlooked.

    The Seahawks are without a true No. 1, and while it's doubtful Kearse is the answer, he can come in and compete with the big boys for a roster spot.

7. Marquis Maze, Pittsburgh Steelers, WR

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    Marquis Maze did it all for Alabama, but apparently that wasn't enough to earn him recognition among NFL teams at the draft.

    The departure of former Alabama receiver Julio Jones prompted Maze to remain in college for his final season, and while he did flourish in a primary receiver role, his pro potential never matched up to that of Jones.

    A hamstring pull in the BCS National Championship Game may have also contributed to Maze being passed on. However, the Steelers have a very enticing receiver with versatility on their hands.

    At 5'8", Maze is extremely undersized for an NFL receiver, but his return skills are what Pittsburgh is after.

6. Matt Daniels, St. Louis Rams, S

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    Duke's leading tackler in 2011 wasn't a hot commodity on draft day, but there's no denying his potential at the next level.

    Matt Daniels was a tackling machine at Duke, averaging close to 10.5 tackles a game.

    News of a knee surgery that occurred just before the draft likely contributed to Daniels' undrafted status, but that hasn't hurt his chances of making the Rams roster.

    Other than 10-year veteran Quintin Mikell, Daniels faces competition from fellow rookie Quinton Pointer and two-year man Josh Gordy. 

5. Chase Minnifield, Washington Redskins, CB

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    Chase Minnifield isn't too thrilled that he went undrafted after a productive college career at Virginia.

    In fact, Minnifield is under the impression that he could have been a starter on any team. Now that he's a member of the Washington Redskins, Minnifield figures to prove why he should have been a draft pick.

    It seems as though two consecutive seasons ranked in the ACC top 10 for interceptions and NFL bloodlines weren't enough to prove that, but his play at the next level should.

4. Kellen Moore, Detroit Lions, QB

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    Former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore isn't in line to win a starting job with the Detroit Lions anytime soon, but head coach Jim Schwartz isn't considering the rookie an experiment, either, according to Yahoo! Sports.

    Moore's career in college was nothing short of prolific, becoming the all-time winningest quarterback in NCAA Division I FBS history with a 50-3 record as a four-year starter at Boise State.

    Lack of prototypical size and arm strength were the only red flags scaring teams off on draft day.

    Detroit kept three quarterbacks during the 2011 season, but there's no guarantee that will be the case this season. Moore's best chance of making the 53-man roster lies in a position battle with current backup Shaun Hill.

3. James Brown, Chicago Bears, OL

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    The Chicago Bears got an absolute steal in Troy offensive lineman James Brown.

    Highly regarded among the better offensive line prospects in the draft, Brown continued to slide down draft boards before finally signing a free-agent deal with Chicago.

    Brown received immense praise for his strengths in the run game, but there were concerns about his height for an NFL tackle. Draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Mike Mayock figured Brown would be best suited as a guard at the next level, per B/R's Matt Stein.

    The positives certainly outweigh the negatives with this signing.

2. Vontaze Burfict, Cincinnati Bengals, LB

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    Vontaze Burfict was credited with having a mean streak on the field at Arizona State with an even worse attitude, but Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis says "there's no downside" in giving the former Sun Devil a chance. 

    Burfict developed quite the reputation as an aggressive player in college, drawing comparisons to Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Coaches love aggressive defensive players, but Burfict's level of aggression can sometimes portray him as a dirty player.

    In one particular game against Oregon State, Burfict threw a punch at an opponent and head-butted another. Taming the wild beast within will be the deciding factor for Burfict making any squad.

1. Chris Polk, Philadelphia Eagles, RB

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    One of the biggest shockers of the draft came from watching former Washington running back Chris Polk go undrafted after being projected as a possible high-second-round pick.

    The Philadelphia Eagles were quick to snatch up the talented back, where he'll be a favorite to make the squad.

    Polk's stats at Washington certainly don't do him justice as worthy of a team's draft pick, but a plethora of injuries during his career was enough to raise concerns about his durability.

    Health will be the biggest obstacle in Polk making the Eagles roster, considering the team has just three reserve running backs with less than three years' experience aside from four-year starter LeSean McCoy.