2014 Undrafted Free Agents: Top Post-Draft Signings Who Will Make Early Impact

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVMay 12, 2014

Alabama State running back Isaiah Crowell runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

In the NFL, seven rounds isn't enough to capture all of the worthy talent with so many picks not panning out, and that paves the way for some skilled undrafted free agents to make their mark on a team.

Some undrafted free-agent wonders come from out of nowhere, while others were well known but fell down teams' draft boards for whatever reason. But a few, at the very least, see their way onto a 53-man roster entering every NFL season, and this year figures to be no different.

Keep an eye out for these three players heading into their rookie seasons, as they have a real shot at making noise in their first year. 


Anthony Steen, G, Arizona Cardinals

Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Anthony Steen out of Alabama was one of the top linemen left on the board when the 256 picks concluded at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday, but it didn't take long for him to get picked up.

AL.com's Andrew Gribble reported that Steen signed with the Arizona Cardinals soon after the draft ended.

Steen has all of the pedigree teams can ask for in an undrafted free agent. He was a three-year starter at Alabama, helping to anchor an offensive line that has produced a crop of NFL talents in his long stint as starter. At 6'3", 315 pounds and accustomed to handling many of the nation's biggest and best interior defenders, his ceiling is very high.

Arizona's offensive line was subpar in 2013, and it didn't draft a single offensive lineman. That means Steen will be in for some big reps in training camp.

If the Cardinals give him a good shot at getting into the pecking order at O-line, he should have no problem making the 53-man roster and competing for a starting spot pretty early on. 


Rajion Neal, RB, Green Bay Packers

Garry Jones/Associated Press

After emerging as one of the SEC's best running backs at Tennessee, Rajion Neal went undrafted over the weekend and quickly found a home in Green Bay. 

ESPN's Adam Caplan had the news:

Neal is a physical 5'11" and 220 pounds, runs with a purpose and hits holes hard for consistent first-down yardage plays. He averaged more than five yards per carry with the Vols last season and finished sixth in the daunting SEC in rushing despite playing one of the nation's toughest schedules.

CBS Sports had a sixth-round grade on Neal and ranked him as the 17th-best running back. But if he builds off his great senior season at Tennessee, he could be in for some playing time early on. 

The Packers already have Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Johnathan Franklin and DuJuan Harris at the position, so just cracking the 53-man roster will be tough in training camp. But if Green Bay sees injury and development troubles similar to last year's from its running backs, a player like Neal would be heavily utilized.


Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Isaiah Crowell has always had all of the physical tools to be a draft pick and a standout NFL player.

Crowell was kicked off Georgia's team in 2012 after being arrested on felony weapons charges. He then played two subsequent seasons at Alabama State, totaling nearly 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. 

The former SEC Freshman of the Year proved his speed, burst and change of pace can work against elite competition in his lone season with the Bulldogs. Even with the character red flags, he was considered a fifth- to sixth-round pick by CBS Sports heading into the draft. 

National Football Post's Dion Caputi liked the move:

The Browns could certainly use some explosiveness in their offense, and Crowell has shown his ability against some of the nation's best college players. Plus, the running back position is wide open after free-agent signing Ben Tate and supposed No. 2 back Willis McGahee, who may or may not stay healthy.

If Crowell reaches his potential, he should have no problem making the roster and giving Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer a speedy back to hand the ball off to.