Report Card Grades for Arizona Cardinals' Undrafted Free-Agent Signings
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While most of these players will not make the initial 53-man roster, the best of the best will be invited to join the team as they embark on a journey to improve upon what was ultimately a dismal 2012 campaign.
A few more may be put on the practice squad for more seasoning—the rest will be given a hand shake and be offered a “good luck” from coaches.
Meet the class of 2013 undrafted free agents. They are very talented, but you will not see much of the majority of them.
Jaron Brown, WR, Clemson
In four seasons at Clemson, Jaron Brown caught 87 passes for 1,186 yards (13.6 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns.
He became somewhat of a deep threat his senior season as he recorded 21 receptions for 345 yards (16.4 YPC), but he was unable to find the end zone.
At the next level, Brown will have some trouble getting separation against quicker cornerbacks. While his 6’2-3/8”, 204-pound frame is ideal size for an NFL receiver, and his 4.40 40-yard dash is adequate, his initial burst off the line is not elite.
It would be considered a surprise if he made the 53-man roster, but he could be one of eight practice-squad members.
Dan Buckner, WR, Arizona
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A transfer from Texas after his sophomore season, Dan Buckner was productive in a Wildcats uniform.
He caught 103 passes for 1,379 yards and seven touchdowns during two seasons in Tucson.
Buckner is big, at 6’3-7/8” and 214 pounds, and though he did not run the 40-yard dash at his pro day (nor was he invited to the combine), he is not a true deep-threat receiver.
He has the ability to go up and make the difficult catch at its high point while fighting off a defender. That may help him at some point make an NFL roster, but he will find it difficult making the Cardinals' 53-man.
Javone Lawson, WR, Louisiana-Lafayette
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Javone Lawson had a better junior year than senior year. He went from 63 receptions for 1,092 yards and eight touchdowns to 40 receptions for 616 yards and five TDs.
That may be attributed to the loss of senior quarterback Blaine Gautier, who broke his hand midway through the year and was forced out of competition.
Lawson got behind defenses more often than would normally be expected from a skinny 5’11” receiver with 4.68 40-time.
He produced a few highlight-reel catches throughout his career, including ESPN’s top play for Oct. 7 of last year. But that is not enough for him to crack the roster or even last long in camp.
Michael Rios, WR, Marist
Steve Keim (right) did a great job adding talent to the roster this offseason.
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Michael Rios is nothing more than a camp body. Though listed at 6’2” by Marist college, he topped out at 6’3/4” at his pro day in March.
He showcased impressive athleticism against opponents throughout four seasons in the Pioneer Football League. Rios averaged 23.5 yards per catch over his career, recording 86 receptions for 2,017 yards and 17 touchdowns.
One can get away with rounded off routes against lesser foes, but at the next level, they will be jumped by defensive backs. Route running is Rios’ biggest issue, and learning better technique will be step one to becoming an NFL receiver.
Tyler Shaw, WR, NW Missouri State
Head coach Bruce Arians answers questions from local media.
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Standing a hair under 6’0” tall and weighing 182 pounds, Tyler Shaw is not the ideal size for today’s NFL receiver.
He did produce solid receiving numbers while at Northwest Missouri State, however. In four seasons playing in the MAIAA, Shaw registered 166 receptions for 3,021 yards and 32 touchdowns—he caught 12 touchdowns alone last year.
Other than that, there is not much tape out there on Shaw, so I cannot properly grade the signing. Therefore, I will do this:
Joe Caprioglio, OT, Colorado State
Colorado State celebrates a win.
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Another relative unknown, Joe Caprioglio played in 28 games at Colorado State, starting 22 of them, according to his college bio at CSURams.com. He has played both tackle and guard, so he is versatile.
He is also athletic for being nearly 6’6” and 320 pounds. Caprioglio ran a decent 5.21 40-yard dash at his mid-March pro day, put up 27 repetitions of 225 pounds and posted a 28-inch vertical leap.
Though there is no tape on him, this kind of player seems like a camp body to me, especially seeing how there are so many ready, able men at the position already.
He gets the same grade as Shaw since I have not seen him play.
Jamaal Johnson-Webb, OT, Alabama A&M
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A small-school offensive lineman who bullied his opponents, Jamaal Johnson-Webb played both guard and tackle well (sensing a theme with these O-linemen yet?).
He started at left and right guard, and at left tackle while at Alabama A&M. He is not the strongest of linemen, as he pushed just 18 reps at the combine. That is not very important, but a bigger number would have helped him.
Johnson-Webb tends to stand straight up at the snap of the ball, but he did not lose much ground, oftentimes because the quality of opponent he faced on a weekly basis in the Southwestern Athletic Conference was far below his level of play.
He is also a camp body, but we know the type of lineman head coach Bruce Arians wants—athletic, versatile men who can adapt to different positions quickly.
Padric Scott, NT, Florida A&M
Team president Michael Bidwill has to be smiling after the offseason his team had.
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You know you’re doing something right when you are a small-school nose tackle and Oklahoma has to double-team you.
Padric Scott is 6’0” and 309 pounds, is strong as an ox and is more athletic than he looks.
He is not a stat-sheet stuffer; as a senior, he recorded 26 total tackles, five for a loss and 2.5 sacks. But he is a solid run-stuffing big-man who takes up a lot of space with his wide body and strong frame.
He was the only defensive lineman brought in, but he has an outside chance to make the roster—not a good chance, but a chance nonetheless.
Kenny Demens, ILB, Michigan
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Kenny Demens had a nice career at Michigan. He collected 258 total tackles in three seasons as the Wolverines’ primary inside linebacker.
He put up decent numbers at the combine, running a 4.82 40-yard dash, pushing out 26 reps and broad-jumping 9’11”.
It is probable Demens is just a camp body to help relieve Daryl Washington, Jasper Brinkley, rookie Kevin Minter and Co., and to play dummy for the first-team offense.
But if he performs at a high level and shows why he was a three-year starter at Michigan, he may just earn a spot on the practice squad.
Korey Jones, OLB/ILB, Wyoming
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To define freak: Running a 4.60 40-yard dash at 6’5/8” and 230 pounds while recording 27 reps at 225 and a 40-inch vertical.
That is former Wyoming linebacker Korey Jones.
A junior-college transfer, Jones started two seasons in Laramie, recording 103 total tackles as a senior middle linebacker.
The only game in which he recorded a sack for Wyoming came in 2011 as a junior. It was his second game with his new team—against Texas State. He recorded four sacks from the defensive end position.
That was it as far as pass-rushing for Jones, but I believe he can make the transition to 34 outside linebacker in the Cardinals offense. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but for a team that needs pass-rushers, beggars cannot be choosers.
Or can they?
Dan Giordano, OLB, Cincinnati
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This 6’3-3/8”, 261-pound defensive end is listed as an outside linebacker on the Cardinals' official website, but that may be a stretch of reality.
I have questions about whether he can play the position at the next level. He did stand up on occasion at Cincinnati, but I see him more as a 5-technique in a 34 defense—Calais Campbell’s position, in layman’s terms.
He recorded 16.5 sacks, 168 total tackles and 30 tackles for loss in four college seasons. If his game translates to outside linebacker, consider me surprised. But he can be a decent 34 defensive end in a couple years.
Josh Hill, DB, California
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A full-season starter at Cal for only one season, Josh Hill accumulated 32 starts and appeared in 48 games for the Golden Bears.
He collected five interceptions, totaled 214 tackles—including leading the team last year with 87—and broke up 27 passes.
He did all of this as a cornerback, but his 40 time of 4.69 seconds suggests he may be better suited for a safety spot in the NFL. If he makes an NFL roster at all.
Prentiss Waggner, CB, Tennessee
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Despite nine interceptions in four SEC seasons, Prentiss Waggner has intercepted only one future NFL quarterback—a current NFL QB, actually. That came in 2012 off former NC State signal-caller and third-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mike Glennon.
The others will not play at the next level.
He earned preseason All-SEC second-team honors by both the SEC media and Phil Steele, as well as being placed on the Senior Bowl Watch List as a right cornerback.
He is tall, at 6’1-5/8”, but his lack of athleticism kept him from being drafted. He posted a slow 4.75 40-yard dash and a 32-inch vertical. He is a safety if he develops, but don’t expect it.
Ronnie Yell, CB, San Jose State
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Ronnie Yell is just under 5’9” and 189 pounds, although he plays bigger than that, as this little playmaker is a sure tackler and occasional big hitter.
He is decent in press coverage, though he gets overpowered against bigger, stronger receivers.
His run defense is below average, as he takes poor angles to the ball-carrier at times. The fact that he tackles well helps make up for this sometimes, but other times he is left in the dust.
Yell picked off only two passes in 42 career games and defended 26 others. He has a whisper’s chance at making the practice squad.
Javon Harris, S, Oklahoma
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Javon Harris enjoyed a productive senior season in Norman. He picked off six passes, defended 11 more and recorded 86 total tackles—second on the team.
What impresses me most about Harris and his 5’11”, 199 pounds is how hard he hits. He is more than willing to lay the boom, and he does so without prejudice.
Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime.
He executes with perfect form, and the result is a jarring, punishing blow to the ball-carrier. I am really impressed with this kid, and if he makes the roster, it will be because of his hard-hitting prowess and instincts against the run.
Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma
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The other part of the hard-hitting safety tandem in Norman last year, Tony Jefferson left Oklahoma with a year of eligibility left.
You know Harris was the second-leading tackler on the Sooners defense. Well, Jefferson led them with 119 as a junior. His ability to play center field on one play then defend the run from within the box on the next shows his versatility and will be a big reason he makes the initial 53-man roster.
Jefferson is athletic and rangy, being able to go from sideline to sideline effortlessly to make plays on the ball while it’s in the air.
This is my favorite undrafted free-agent add of the offseason.