Some NFL hopefuls go undrafted for numerous reasons. They may be small-school products, they may have injury pasts that scare off teams or they may not be draftable based on character concerns. Whatever the reason is, teams wait until after the draft to bring them in as priority free agents.
However, it seems like at least one player every year makes a team as an undrafted free agent. After high roster turnover during the offseason, the St. Louis Rams may be looking for more priority free agents to bring their roster numbers up compared to other NFL organizations.
Let's take a look at the 16 (so far) undrafted free agents the Rams have officially signed to future contracts.
*All signing information is provided by Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
After drafting Greg Zuerlein last year, we are all aware the St. Louis Rams won't need a kicker in the near future. However, the Rams do need an extra leg for training camp. Brett Baer from Louisiana-Lafayette should fill that role nicely, as he was one of the most accurate kickers in college football history.
For his collegiate career, he owned a field-goal percentage of .926 (25-27).
It would be a stretch of the imagination to say the St. Louis Rams are deep at offensive tackle. Sure, they have two quality starters in Jake Long and Rodger Saffold, but they have some work to do when it comes to the backups. Joe Barksdale and Ty Nsekhe are two players who are spot starters at best.
Which means BYU offensive tackle Braden Brown should get a nice long look during training camp. He was an NFL Scouting Combine invite who ran a 5.2-second 40-yard dash, put up 26 reps on the bench press and did the three-cone drill in 7.43 seconds.
Benny Cunningham from Middle Tennessee State appears to be nothing more than a camp signing at this point. The Rams already have Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy and Terrance Ganaway manning the backfield.
Without question, the St. Louis Rams are in the market for free-agent safety help. Other than drafting T.J. McDonald out of USC, the organization didn't address the position during the draft. Former Texas Tech safety Cody Davis will come in and compete for a backup role and a roster spot.
If any undrafted free agents have a high possibility of making the final 53-man roster, Davis does. He has good size as a 6'2" 203-pound prospect. Some believe he could even become an outside linebacker convert if he puts on additional weight.
Outside of James Laurinaitis, St. Louis lacks quality skill at the middle linebacker position. Josh Hull is a nice special teams player and Jabara Williams is a nice developmental player, but I wouldn't want either of them in the starting lineup for long periods of time.
Which means Michael Gilliard from Georgia may get a long look heading into the season. As a starter in seven games last season, he notched 55 total tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Not to mention, in 2011, Gilliard was named the Bulldogs' most improved player on defense.
The addition of Jared Cook in the offseason was a huge pickup for Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams offense. He will now be paired up with former second-round pick Lance Kendricks. Yet the Rams could still use one more pass-catcher in a developmental role.
Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen has the skill set to be that guy. As a four-year player in college, Lutzenkirchen set career and single-season records in touchdown catches. It's also worth mentioning he is an equally good blocker.
Defensive end is one of the Rams' stronger positions heading into the season, so it appears as if Gerald Rivers will be a camp body only. Rivers has the size to possibly convert to outside linebacker if need be, but overall, he's not fast enough as an edge-rusher.
Even though Houston linebacker Phillip Steward wasn't a scouting combine invite, he did make an appearance at the Senior Bowl. As a four-year starter at the University of Houston, Steward gained notoriety after making the Conference USA all-freshman team in 2009.
Moreover, he gained additional notoriety in 2012 when he was voted in as a first-team Conference USA member. The only thing holding Steward back is his undersized playing weight. He will need to put on a few pounds if he wants to stick in the pros.
Has anyone ever heard of Henderson State? Yeah, I haven't either, but that doesn't mean the Rams haven't. Robbie Aldridge is a linebacker prospect the Rams have kept tabs on ever since his playing days at Indiana State.
His size and downhill style of play could land him a job on St. Louis' practice squad.
After starting zero games as a freshman and sophomore, Ohio State defensive tackle Garrett Goebel went on to to start 25 games as a junior and senior. In those 25 starts, he amassed 75 total tackles, eight tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks.
Goebel will have some stiff competition in training camp at defensive tackle, but he could prove to be a practice squad-type of player with a developmental future.
Ray-Ray Armstrong from Miami is easily one of the highlights of the Rams' priority free-agent class. Before running into off-the-field issues, Armstrong was a rising prospect. As a sophomore in 2010, he turned in his best season of his collegiate career.
He registered 79 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and he intercepted three passes. If St. Louis can coach him up and help him keep his nose clean, Armstrong has the potential to land on the Rams' 53-man roster.
When mini-camps begin, St. Louis will have three Georgia linebackers on their roster. The first is Day 1 pick Alec Ogletree, the second is priority free agent Michael Gilliard and the third is priority free agent Christian Robinson.
Robinson served as a backup inside linebacker to Ogletree during his senior season. He appeared in all 14 games, but he only made two starts. In those 14 games, he amassed 47 total tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The former Georgia Bulldog should be considered a long shot to make the roster.
Louisiana Tech offensive guard Kevin Saiai wasn't on the radar of many NFL teams prior to the 2012 season. However, that all changed when scouts came to watch wide receiver Quinton Patton. Saiai isn't considered to be a phenomenal athlete by any means, but he is sound in his technique and he has shown the ability to block on the move.
The Rams are actually quite deep at offensive guard, so Saiai's best opportunity with the team may come as a practice squad player.
Robert Steeples from the University of Memphis is a player defensive coordinator Tim Walton is familiar with. Walton was the defensive coordinator at Memphis in 2008, so he helped recruit Steeples out of high school.
Steeples has good size at 6'2", but he will need to put on some additional weight, as he only weighs 190 pounds. With a good camp showing, he could end up sticking as the Rams' fifth cornerback when the season kicks off.
As it sits right now, the St. Louis Rams don't have a true fullback on their roster. For a majority of the season last year, tight end Lance Kendricks handled a lot of the fullback duties while playing H-back. Eric Stevens is nothing more than a pure fullback, so he will have an uphill battle on his hands if he wants to earn a roster spot.
Stevens does have a few injury concerns that caused him to miss some time in both 2011 and 2012. Looks to me like he will be nothing more than a camp body.
Outside of safety Ray-Ray Armstrong, Texas A&M inside linebacker Jonathan Stewart probably has the best shot at making the Rams' 53-man roster. Prior to the draft, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller had Stewart as his 10th-best inside linebacker prospect.
Even though he wouldn't start in St. Louis, he would be a much better No. 2 than James Hull. It's also worth mentioning that Stewart would make a great special teams addition as well.