John Elway still adding talent after the draft through priority free agents
The 2013 NFL draft wrapped up today, but that doesn't mean teams are done adding players to the roster. Each team was in a frenzy right after the draft to add undrafted free agents.
These priority free agents may have had mid-round grades, but for one reason or another they went without hearing their name called during the draft.
The Broncos have a Ring of Fame player, former wide receiver Rod Smith, who was an undrafted free agent back in 1994. Smith went on to win two Super Bowls with the Broncos in 1997 and 1998. He's the only undrafted player to reach 10,000 receiving yards (11,389) and finished with 68 touchdown catches in his career.
Denver added 15 undrafted free agents today. Here's a look at some of the players who stand out to me.
Anderson has a compact build (5'8", 225 lbs) and was a co-starter for the Golden Bears with Isi Sofele in their "Thunder and Lightning" backfield in 2012. After transferring from Laney College, Anderson played in all 25 possible games during his two years at Cal, including two starts.
Even though Anderson was the bigger back in the Bears running back-by-committee, he still had his share of big plays. His longest career run was a 68-yard scamper against UCLA in 2012, while his longest reception came on a 74-yard catch and run against Arizona State in 2011. Anderson finished with a healthy average of 5.73 yards over the course of his college career.
Anderson performed well at the scouting combine earlier this year. He ranked top three (tied) at the event in the 20-yard short shuttle. Anderson runs in the 4.5 range but it's his burst that makes him an intriguing prospect. He gets to top speed in a hurry and he can change direction and explode out of his cuts.
Hester is an outstanding athlete with the size and speed to develop into a quality player. He's related to Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester and is now looking to latch on with the Broncos.
Hester started 38 games for the Bruins over the course of his career and was a force against the pass and the run. His lone interception of 2012 came in an upset victory over USC. Hester was the top tackler (57) in the secondary of one of college football's best defensive units in 2012.
He reminds some in the scouting community of current Seattle Seahawks (and former Broncos) cornerback Brandon Browner because of his size and ability to cover bigger receivers downfield.
I watched Hester from the sidelines of the 2013 East-West Shrine Game earlier this year and saw him work though some struggles. He was inconsistent during the week of practice, but it didn't seem to frustrate him. Hester would break up a pass on one play, then get beat the next.
He plays faster than his timed speed of 4.56 and to start his NFL career he'll have to earn his keep on special teams if he makes the final roster.
Rippy is a talented player who has durability problems that make you wonder: "What if he could stay healthy?"
During the college football season I host the CU Buffs pregame show on 102.3 ESPN and I have followed Rippy's career closely over the last few years. He's a smart player who diagnoses quickly and can fly to the football. Rippy always finds a way to be in on the play, even when the flow goes away from him.
His best season was 2011 where he started seven games at the "Mike" linebacker spot. He proved to be a force in the middle against the run, compiling 62 tackles on the year. Rippy tore both his ACL and MCL in an October game against Washington and missed the rest of the year.
Coming back in the opener of 2012, Rippy once again injured his knee. He missed three games during his final season and seemed to be getting some of his speed back by the end of the year.
The Broncos will see if the Colorado prospect can rise to the occasion and compete for a roster spot in training camp.
I really like the addition of Lucas Reed. More than half of the teams in the league showed interest in Reed during the pre-draft process, but it was the Broncos who secured his services.
He's a big target who has some Rob Gronkowski-like attributes to his game. Reed is a big target, measuring in at 6'6", 250 pounds. He does a good job of squaring his shoulders to the line of scrimmage to present his quarterback with the biggest target. Reed also knows how to use his large frame to box out defenders in the red zone. He can regularly high-point passes and is an aggressive catcher who will fight for contested passes.
I watched Reed from the sidelines during the week of practice for the East-West Shrine Game earlier this year and came away impressed. He showed good concentration, movement and run-after-the-catch ability.
The Broncos have a logjam at the tight end position right now with Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen, Virgil Green and Julius Thomas. Reed has his work cut out for him if he wants to make the final roster. I would at least like to see him stick around on the practice squad as a developmental player.
I've listed all 15 undrafted free agents below.
- C.J. Anderson, RB, Cal
- Kemonte' Bateman, WR, New Mexico State
- Ryan Doerr, P, Kansas State
- Manase Foketi, OG, Kansas State
- Aaron Hester, CB, UCLA
- Ryan Katz, QB, San Diego State
- Uona Kaveinga, LB, BYU
- Gary Mason Jr., DE, Baylor
- Quincy McDuffie, WR, Central Florida
- Lerentee McCray, LB, Florida
- Ross Rasner, S, Arkansas
- Lucas Reed, TE, New Mexico
- Doug Rippy, LB, Colorado
- Lamaar Thomas, WR, New Mexico
- John Youboty, DE, Temple
You can read more information about these undrafted free agents at DenverBroncos.com