NFL: 3 UDFA's Who Can Make Their Rosters and Contribute
Undrafted free agents who make rosters and score big with teams are some of the best stories in the NFL every year.
These are guys who, while being poked and prodded out of the draft for something as insignificant as a 40-time that's one-tenth of a second too slow, rise above seemingly insurmountable odds to take the league by storm and become football's newest stars.
NFL icons like Arian Foster, James Harrison and Kurt Warner have all made the climb to the top of football glory, and every year, a few guys from every class make an impact on their teams right away.
So, let's take a look at three guys from the 2012 class who will do the same and contribute to their respective teams this fall.
Josh Cooper, WR, Cleveland Browns
With all the national media attention going to Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, fellow teammate Josh Cooper fell well under the radar.
And when it came to draft day, Cooper was overlooked because of his size (5'10", 190 lbs.) and speed (4.65 40-yard dash).
But after being picked up by the Browns, Cooper does hold a distinct advantage over all other Cleveland receivers; he's built up a repertoire with rookie QB Brandon Weeden.
Over the past two seasons at Oklahoma State, Weeden and Cooper connected 139 times for 1,451 yards and eight touchdowns so, yes, they know each other.
Cooper has helped his own cause this offseason by doing anything necessary to catch on with Cleveland, even spending his free time practicing as a holder.
Cleveland is a team devoid of much talent at wide receiver, and even with the addition of Josh Gordon via the supplemental draft, it doesn't really have an option in the slot. That's where Cooper can make his mark.
His familiarity with Weeden probably got his foot in the door, but his work ethic could get him on the field come Sunday afternoon.
Matt Daniels, S, St. Louis Rams
Matt Daniels doesn't jump off the screen when watching him in coverage, and Duke isn't much of a powerhouse college-football program, but his leadership, locker-room presence and big-hit ability caught the eyes of the St. Louis Rams.
Daniels, a four-year starter with the Blue Devils, has the luxury of signing with a team that's very thin at the safety position—especially strong safety—which happens to be the spot he plays.
He'll be battling with third-year pro Darian Stewart for the starting spot. Stewart wasn't fantastic last season, but he got the job done, recording three sacks and intercepting one pass in 11 starts.
With the new coaching regime led by head man Jeff Fisher coming in, average isn't going to be good enough.
It might take Daniels a few games to adjust to the NFL speed, but if he plays the way he did at Duke, he could make quite the impression on the new coaches.
Chris Polk / RB / Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles struck gold when they signed former Washington running back Chris Polk, who, by all measures, seemed destined to be off the board by the third round.
The struggles Andy Reid has had in the red zone, since coming to Philly, are well-documented.
This fact makes this move that much better and gives Polk a role on this Eagles offense.
At 5'11", 222 lbs., Polk has the size and power the Eagles have been longing for since the days of Duce Staley. And Polk knows how to find the end zone. He scored 26 touchdowns in three starting seasons with the Huskies.
According to Paul Domowitch of Philly.com, another good sign is Polk's reported "readiness" to shoulder the load in Philly.
With LeSean McCoy clearly in place as the Eagles starter, don't expect a 1,000-yard season from Polk, but he could provide relief in an area that has plagued the Eagles since the Andy Reid era began.