Undrafted NFL Free Agents 2013: Skill Players with Best Chance to Make Impact
These players aren't perfect.
Some have off-the-field, character issues. Some simply didn't produce enough on the college level to suggest anything different happening in the NFL. Some are too short, too skinny, too fat, too out of shape.
Simply put, there was a reason they didn't get drafted.
Nevertheless, they all have redeeming skills or qualities, and if they put in the necessary work, they can catch on in the NFL and make a quick, positive impact.
While the odds for immediate success aren't overwhelming, remember that Arian Foster and BenJarvus Green-Ellis were once undrafted free agents.
So you're telling me there's a chance!
Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Buffalo Bills
Not long after Justice Cunningham was named Mr. Irrelevant, the Buffalo Bills called up Rogers and hastily signed him (via USA Today's Mike Garafolo):
WR Da'Rick Rogers to the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) April 28, 2013
As a sophomore in 2011, the physical specimen pulled in 67 catches for 1,040 yards with Tennessee, but after tweeting about transferring and sitting out practice, he was dismissed from the team.
As a member of FCS Tennessee Tech this season, he unsurprisingly ran rampant.
There are obviously immaturity concerns here, but Rogers has the size (6'2", 217 pounds), leaping ability (39.5" vertical) and physical tools to produce in the NFL.
With the Bills, he'll get the chance to do that immediately—after Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods, there isn't much certainty in that receiving corps.
Ryan Otten, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
San Jose State, Schman Schmose Schmate.
Ryan Otten likely got passed up because he comes out of the small school in the WAC, but the man can play football. Period. And he'll be doing it for the Jacksonville Jaguars (via the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran):
College teammate says San Jose State TE Ryan Otten has also joined #jaguars as undrafted FA.— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) April 28, 2013
Otten may struggle to find playing time immediately as a below-average blocker, but he should be able to eventually excel enough in that area to get on the field and showcase his pass-catching ability.
He doesn't have blazing speed, but he is tall (6'5"), serves as a legitimate vertical threat, is tough and has strong hands—making him a realistic weapon on short-yardage downs and in the red zone.
During his junior and senior seasons with the Spartans, he racked up a gaudy 99 catches, 1,481 yards and nine touchdowns, which is just silly production from a collegiate tight end.
Marcedes Lewis has shown flashes of being great but has failed to deliver consistency. With the quarterback situation in flux, Otten could easily step in and establish himself as a reliable safety valve.
Dennis Johnson, RB, Houston Texans
Dennis Johnson: Famous name, galvanizing game.
The large shadow of star Knile Davis kept Johnson from hearing his name called at the draft, but the Houston Texans were well aware of his talent (via Arkansas radio host Josh Bertaccini):
RB Dennis Johnson signs free agent deal with Houston Texans. Hey, it worked out okay for Arian Foster. #hogs— Josh Bertaccini (@RedZone921) April 28, 2013
We should probably pump the brakes a little bit here, but Johnson has the ability to produce.
Who will make the biggest rookie impact?
While he was mostly a backup with the Razorbacks, the dynamic ball-carrier still managed 1,427 rushing yards, 415 receiving yards and 15 total touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons. He averaged a spectacular 6.31 yards per touch.
He's only 5'6" and 196 pounds, but he—clearly—has a low center of gravity, elite quickness and elusiveness, good strength and soft hands.
Foster and Ben Tate obviously aren't giving up their spots on the depth chart anytime soon, but as a third back and kick returner, Johnson has the tools to hit home runs.
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