Undrafted Free Agents 2014: Prospects Who Have Best Shot at Success in NFL

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2014

Stanford linebacker Shane Skov (11) celebrates after bringing down Oregon's LaMichael James during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Now that 256 of the nation's top collegiate prospects have found a home via the 2014 NFL draft, the real fun can begin with the chaotic period known as undrafted free agency.

There is exactly no science behind the draft process to explain why some players fall out of the proceedings. Some teams pick based on value. Others on scheme. Most throw out red flags for health or character concerns.

Add it all up, and one finds that plenty of talent falls out of the draft entirely. Plenty of said talent goes on to make a final 53-man roster, and as an added bonus, each player gets to choose where they go.

This year, more talent than ever has leaked into the realm of free agency. Here are a few undrafted prospects who have the talent to make a final 53-man roster and find pro success.


Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas

It's quite strange that such a talented defensive end tumbled down the board, but then again, a few high-profile ends didn't come off the board until late in the seventh round.

Jackson Jeffcoat has excelled at every level. As Fox Sports' Peter Schrager notes, Jeffcoat was a stud going into college: 

Jeffocoat went on to be named the Co-Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year last season and won the Ted Hendricks Award. The NFL just so happens to be in his blood, as his father, Jefferson, played in the league for 15 years.

At 6'3" and 247 pounds, Jeffcoat is a bit undersized to play 3-4 outside linebacker, but it's still perplexing that he fell out of the draft entirely. But given his high rate of productivity in college and frame that can add bulk, don't be shocked when Jeffcoat sticks in the NFL for a long time.


Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida

In an era where bigger corners are the preference of NFL teams around the league, it's strange to see the 6'0" and 191-pound Marcus Roberson fall out of the draft.

There was a point in time when Roberson was considered the best corner in the class by CBS Sports' Dane Brugler:

A fearless, confident cover corner, Roberson battled through several injuries in 2013, most notably a left knee issue. But when healthy, he has the footwork, movement skills and competitive nature to blanket receivers along with the instincts to make plays on the ball.

CBS Sports compares Roberson to Alterraun Verner for good reason. He's physical at the line of scrimmage and touts strong coverage skills. Roberson's overall game ensures he will make a final NFL roster, which in turn may rather quickly lead to some significant playing time.


Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13:  Linebacker Shane Skov #11 of the Stanford Cardinal sacks quarterback Steven Threet #14 of the Arizona State Sun Devils to end the Sun Devils' final drive attempt in the fourth quarter at Sun Devil Stadium on November 13, 2010 in
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

This is perhaps the most surprising of all.

MMQB's Greg A. Bedard puts it best:

Detractors will point out size. 6'2" and 245 pounds is a tad small for an inside linebacker. There's a DUI arrest in February of 2012. They will also point out a shaky injury history and a weakness in coverage.

Supporters merely have to point to Skov's nose for the football, which saw him lead the Stanford Cardinal in tackling three times, including last year when he notched 109 total tackles and was a Butkus Award finalist.

Skov will find a home and at the very least be a productive member of a special teams unit. His football IQ is through the roof, and it results in large amounts of consistent productivity. Those are the type of players who most often break through after going undrafted.


Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming

Otto Kitsinger/Associated Press

Many thought the quarterback-needy NFL would take a chance on Brett Smith in the late rounds of the draft. But as Bleacher Report's Ryan Riddle points out, the board, as it always does, had a major say in where he wound up:

Brugler is one who has voiced his support for Smith rather consistently, starting with the Wyoming signal-caller's snub at the NFL combine:

Smith was accurate in college and unafraid to take risks. His prototypical size (6'1", 205 lbs) can add clean bulk, and his strong overall game saw Smith picked up right away by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, per ESPN's Cecil Lammey:

It's a perfect fit for Smith, as Mike Glennon is no sure thing and Josh McCown is a stop-gap veteran who will start for a minimum of one year before moving on to another team or retirement.

Given Smith's skills that can be molded into starting material, don't be surprised if he turns out to be the best player from the 2014 undrafted class.


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