Undrafted NFL Free Agents 2013: Prospects Who Will Impact in Rookie Season
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Few 2013 undrafted NFL free agents will make an everlasting impact as rookies.
There will be, however, those that shine throughout OTAs, training camp and then the preseason.
Last season Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict put his entire skill set on display. The end result was finishing 2012 as the Cincinnati Bengals' leading tackler. A year prior, Stanford receiver Doug Baldwin landed with the Seattle Seahawks.
He finished 2011 as the team's leading receiver in yards, receptions and touchdowns.
Undrafted free agents making an immediate and long-term impact are rare. But the following athletes bring the potential to echo Burfict's and Baldwin's this season.
Note: Full view list of undrafted rookie free-agent signings, courtesy of NFL.com.
Chase Thomas: LB, New Orleans Saints
The Saints can use any and all help on the defensive side.
Well, Chase Thomas out of Stanford is easily one of the best gets from the undrafted free-agent pool. For his collegiate career Thomas stockpiled 50.5 tackles for loss, recorded 27.5 sacks, defended eight passes and forced nine fumbles.
At the combine he hit 4.31 seconds on the 20-yard shuttle and reached 32 inches on the vertical jump while measuring 6'3" and 244 pounds. If anything, Thomas' short-area quickness and nose for locating the rock will pay extreme dividends for New Orleans.
Now he does need to add some bulk and initial explosion at the snap. But suiting up and rushing the edge in Rob Ryan's 3-4 front, Thomas will be a nightmare for opposing backfields.
Lane Taylor: Guard, Green Bay Packers
Oklahoma State's Lane Taylor is effective above all else.
The tangible measures won't wow anyone, but it's on the field talent that supersedes everything. For starters, Taylor played in an offensive line that gave up a mere 12 sacks in 2012. In addition, the Pokes ranked No. 7 in passing and No. 21 in rushing offense.
That incredible level of sustained balance, consistency and explosiveness does not occur without a dominant interior offensive line. The Green Bay Packers definitely need Taylor's services, because Aaron Rodgers was sacked 51 times last year and no running back—that received 70-plus carries—averaged above 3.6 yards per attempt.
Taylor's strength will help establish the run, not to mention the Packers' offensive philosophy virtually mirrors that of Oklahoma State. In short, Taylor's transition will be smooth and he'll build acceleration and awareness through NFL development.
Jahleel Addae: Safety, San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers ranked No. 18 in pass defense a season ago, while also giving up 28 passing touchdowns and a 61.1 completion percentage.
Therefore, sprucing up the coverage is required for a postseason run—and especially with the Kansas City Chiefs now presenting a much more balance attack. Neglecting to draft a safety, San Diego brought in Central Michigan's Jahleel Addae as an undrafted free agent.
Which of these undrafted rookies will impact the most?
Measuring 5'10" and 195 pounds, Addae bolted to 4.33 seconds on the 20-yard shuttle at his pro day. Additionally, he soared to 38.5 inches on the vertical jump and slid to 6.97 seconds on the three-cone drill.
Possessing excellent explosiveness and the body control to quickly redirect, Addae will assist the Chargers secondary. From 2010 through 2012 he racked up 276 tackles, defended 21 passes (eight picks) and forced three fumbles.
Provided he develops more top speed and instincts, Addae will become a significant every-down contributor.
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