Report Card Grades for Tennessee Titans' Undrafted Free Agent Signings

Daniel BarnesCorrespondent IIIMay 3, 2013

Report Card Grades for Tennessee Titans' Undrafted Free Agent Signings

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    Undrafted free agency often gets overlooked during draft season, and there's a good reason. Most undrafted free agents don't even make the practice squad, much less the roster, and the few that do rarely make any kind of impact.

    Still everyone wants to find the next Victor Cruz or Arian Foster (or James Harrison, or Kurt Warner), and that's where they came in.

    The Titans have been busy in undrafted free agency, and have signed a lot of players. Here's an overview and grade for each.

1. Jack Doyle, TE, WKU

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    Jack Doyle is one of the better signings in this crop of undrafted free agents.

    The big tight end isn't much of a blocker, but he's a solid pass-catcher, which is what the Titans are missing at the tight end position.

    Doyle had 566 receiving yards and five touchdowns this season, enough to lead the team.

    Realistically, with three tight ends on the roster, Doyle won't make it. However, if he does well in practices, he could grab a practice squad spot or a place on the roster if one of the Titans' current players gets injured.

    Grade: B+

2. Tom Wort, MLB, Oklahoma

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    One of the bigger names that the Titans signed in undrafted free agency is Tom Wort.

    Wort is a little undersized at only 6' even and 235 pounds, and he underacheived in his last season at Oklahoma with only 53 total tackles.

    He's fast and drops well in coverage, but his lack of size makes him a liability in run support. He'll be competing with Tim Shaw for the backup middle linebacker spot.

    Because of how shallow the Titans are at the position, he could end up making a roster spot if he can contribute on special teams.

    Grade: A-

3. Jonathan Willard, LB, Clemson

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    Wort may be a little undersized, but Jonathan Willard is way undersized.

    Willard has decent length at just over 6'1" tall, but he weighs a measly 231 pounds. He had a great college career, racking up 85 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three sacks, five defended passes and a couple of quarterback hurries.

    Even if he does well in practices, he'll need to put on weight if he wants to stick around. However, since he's a decent pass defender, the Titans may consider converting him to a safety.

    Grade: B+

4. Dontel Watkins, WR, Murray State

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    The Titans are stacked at receiver, so unless someone gets traded, almost none of the undrafted free agents will make the roster. They're all competing for a spot or two on the practice squad.

    Of this group, the guy with the best shot to make it is Dontel Watkins of Murray State. He isn't super athletic, and he didn't have great production at Murray State (he only had 561 receiving yards this season), but he has some good tape.

    He's also from Nashville, and the Titans seem to like bringing in-state talent to the team.

    He's an interesting developmental prospect, but with Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, Nate Washington, Damian Williams and Marc Mariani all on the roster, I don't see what he brings to the table.

    Grade: B-

5. Rashad Ross, WR, Arizona State

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    By the numbers, Rashad Ross had a better 2012 than Watkins, but it was nothing to write home about. He caught 37 passes for 610 yards and six touchdowns, which makes him seem like a viable red-zone target.

    But at 6', I don't see him fitting in that role in the NFL.

    Perhaps the best thing on his résumé is his game against Navy in 2012, where he had four catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns, which is an impressive performance no matter who the opponent is.

    I imagine that the Titans staff were impressed enough by that game to see if there's more to Ross than he showed in college, but like I said with Watkins, the Titans are stacked at receiver, and I don't see what Ross really adds to the team.

    Grade: C-

6. Travis Harvey, WR, Florida A&M

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    The last of the receivers the Titans added is Florida A&M's Travis Harvey.

    In comparison to the other two receivers, Harvey's résumé is stellar. In 2012, he caught 67 passes for 808 yards and seven touchdowns. Those are close to No. 1 receiver numbers but nothing super impressive.

    What really helps Harvey is that his biggest game came against the toughest opponent that Florida A&M faced, Oklahoma. In that game, he caught four passes for 118 yards and a touchdown.

    What hurts him is that 75 yards of that total came on one play, so it's not as impressive as it may seem.

    Still, small-school prospects are exactly the players that need to be looked at the most in undrafted free agency, so I can understand what the Titans are going for, but again, there's no room for receivers on the roster.

    Grade: C+

7. Maikon Bonani, K, South Florida

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    This is a pickup that makes some sense, but not immediately.

    Maikon Bonani was an All-Big East selection this season as a kicker and finished his career at South Florida as the school's No. 1 all-time scorer.

    Rob Bironas is one of the better kickers in the NFL, and he just signed a two year extension in the offseason, but he is getting older. In two years, if he wants too much money, having another kicker could give the Titans some leverage.

    However, I think it's more likely that the Titans signed a kicker because there's no reason not to sign one. Most kickers are found in undrafted free agency, and a good kicker is a valuable thing to have.

    If Bonani really impresses the coaches, they may stow him away on the practice squad as a bargaining chip, but he'll probably be cut at some point in the preseason.

    Grade: C

8. George Baker, CB, South Florida

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    If there were two positions the Titans could ignore in undrafted free agency, they'd be cornerback and wide receiver. But lo and behold, between the two, the Titans have five players.

    George Baker was the lesser-known teammate of Kayvon Webster, a third-round draft pick for the Broncos.

    All he has to his name is five defended passes and 42 tackles this season, but that's not why he was signed. He was signed because he's fast.

    At South Florida's pro day, Baker ran a 4.38 second 40 yard dash. At that speed (along with some good strength for a corner), Baker could be a special teams contributor and potentially a kick returner.

    However, with two corners drafted and a deep roster of kick returners, there was no reason to sign any corners.

    Grade: C

9. Matt Pierce, CB, Valdosta State

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    Matt Pierce is a hard player to find information on, being from Valdosta State, so I can't say too much about him as a prospect.

    What I can say is that he had some decent numbers, with 11 broken-up passes and four interceptions this season.

    However, like I said about Baker, with so many corners on the roster right now, there's not really room for another unless they think he's a real diamond in the rough. And if they really thought that, you have to wonder why they didn't just draft him.

    Grade: C-

10. Stefan Charles, DT, Regina

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    Stefan Charles is a guy who tore up Canadian college football much like his teammate Akiem Hicks, currently with the Saints.

    In his three seasons at Regina, Charles has 20.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks and 57 total tackles.

    Then, when you factor in his size (6'5" and 310 lbs), you can see the potential he brings to the table.

    The Titans are deep at defensive tackle, but beyond the four guys who see regular playing time, there's some room for depth that a monster like Charles could potentially fill.

    Grade: A-

11. Nigel Nicholas, DE, Oklahoma State

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    Nigel Nicholas is a signing I'm not overly fond of.

    In 2012 at Oklahoma State, he racked up 3.5 sacks, three quarterback hurries, four tackles for loss, two broken-up passes and two forced fumbles.

    It's not a bad stat line, but nothing really impresses. There were better defensive linemen out there to sign, so bringing him on doesn't give the Titans anything they don't already have.

    Grade: C-

12. Eloy Atkinson, C, UTEP

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    Eloy Atkinson is no slouch. He was named to the Remington Trophy watch list in 2012 and was rewarded with an All-Conference USA honorable mention.

    However, a lot of talented centers went undrafted, like Clemson's Dalton Freeman and Louisville's Mario Benavides, so Atkinson wasn't really a priority signing.

    He'll likely be cut early on.

    Grade: C-

13. Oscar Johnson, OT, Louisiana Tech

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    Oscar Johnson flew under the radar a little bit as his teammate, Jordan Mills, got most of the spotlight at the tackle position, but Johnson is a solid prospect in his own right.

    Louisiana Tech had one of the better tackle tandems in college football in 2012, and it turned it into a very good team.

    Johnson has prototypical right tackle size (6'5" and 331 lbs) and could have been drafted in the last couple of rounds, so he was a solid pickup. The Titans are probably starting to think about getting a replacement for David Stewart in the long term anyway.

    Grade: B+

14. Matt Sewell, OT, McMaster

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    Another Canadian player, Matt Sewell is a very large man. He stands 6'8" and tips the scales at 335 pounds.

    Sewell was a second-team All-Canadian player in 2012 and 2011, so he has some talent at least, and his size is rare.

    If Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews see something in him, just being as large as he is ought to carry him a good way.

    He could always be drafted by the Canadian Football League, anyway.

    Grade: B

15. Stefphon Jefferson, RB, Nevada

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    If you ask me, Stefphon Jefferson is far and away the biggest signing in the UDFA class.

    Jefferson had a big year at Nevada, carrying the ball 375 times for 1,883 yards and 24 touchdowns. With production like that, even in the Mountain West, it's astounding that he went undrafted.

    A likely reason is that he had a poor combine. Jefferson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds, and his vertical and broad jumps were 31" and 117", respectively.

    He improved his 40 time at his pro day to 4.62 seconds, but he's just not that impressive physically. But again, you can't argue with how good he looked on the field this season, and for an undrafted free agent, he's a great pickup.

    If Jamie Harper doesn't have a solid training camp, Jefferson could find himself on the roster, and he's almost a shoo-in for the practice squad.

    If you want to know more about Jefferson, check out his draft diary here.

    Grade: A