The NFL draft is one of the most exciting events of a college football player’s life, but it can also be the most devastating for the undrafted players who become free agents.
While not hearing your name is unnerving to many players, teams immediately begin signing these free agents once the draft is over. For some prospects, there is now a major chip on their shoulder due to not being selected.
Here are the top players who could become game-changers as their football career progresses.
Shayne Skov, MLB, San Francisco 49ers
Stanford's former middle linebacker is not the best run-blocker, nor is he elite in pass coverage, but with an unmatched tenacity and a high football IQ, it was stunning to see Shayne Skov slip out of the seven-round of NFL draft.
Skov didn’t have to wait long to find his new team, though, as he announced on Twitter that he would be joining the San Francisco 49ers:
Don't know where the whole Oakland thing came from... But I'm headed to the 49ers, gunna make my mark in this league before it's all over— Gojira ゴジラ Skov (@ShayneSkov) May 11, 2014
For those unfamiliar, Skov played under San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh and was a big part of Stanford’s game plan. There is still legitimate concern about his recovery from an ACL injury, but he will have time to get healthy with the stellar 49ers training staff.
There is already depth and skill at middle linebacker in top star Patrick Willis, the injured NaVorro Bowman and 2014 third-round pick Chris Borland, but Skov should be able to find playing time on special teams and as a substitute on first and second downs.
Antonio Richardson, T, Minnesota Vikings
As the rounds continued to tick away, the shock that Tennessee offensive tackle prospect Antonio Richardson had not been selected continued to grow. As a projected second- or third-round pick, per NFL.com, this was an unprecedented drop.
Richardson did find a new home, though, as he announced his signing with the Minnesota Vikings on Twitter:
Vikings— Antonio Richardson (@tinyrichardson) May 11, 2014
While there are questions about his consistency and effort on a play-to-play basis, there is no questioning his strength. With 36 reps on the bench press at the scouting combine, Richardson was one of the post powerful linemen in the draft.
The best part of this signing for Minnesota is the time the franchise has to develop him. The Vikings already have talented defensive tackles like Linval Joseph and Sharrif Floyd, and Richardson will have the chance to learn on the job while seeing the field as part of the defensive rotation.
Brandon Coleman, WR, New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints boast one of the best offensive units in the NFL, led by quarterback Drew Brees, but the team has added yet another big-time weapon by signing undrafted free agent and Rutgers wide receiver Brandon Coleman.
Rutgers' official Twitter account announced the signing:
New Orleans signing a wide receiver is not newsworthy, but Coleman is a different breed. At 6’6” and 225 pounds, he is one of the tallest receivers in the 2014 draft class. There are concerns about his consistency and drops, but he will be in an ideal system.
With another tall receiver like Marques Colston on the roster to help guide Coleman through the process of getting acclimated to the NFL, the Saints may have a long-term replacement if Colston ever decides to leave New Orleans.
*Stats via NFL.com.