Undrafted Free Agents 2014: Highlighting Notable Talent Still Available

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2014

In this photo provided by Montana State, Montana State quarterback Denarius McGhee (9) calls out a play at the line during an NCAA college football game against New Hampshire, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, in Bozeman, Mont. Montana State won 26-25. (AP Photo/Montana State University, Kelly Gorham)
Kelly Gorham/Associated Press

For the NFL, a seven-round draft just isn't enough. As soon as Mr. Irrelevant's name is called, teams scramble to sign undrafted free agents as training camp fodder to push their current starters, veterans and backups alike. Consider it a bonus if the undrafted hopeful turns into a star player. 

Antonio Gates has crafted a potential Hall-of-Fame career after making the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent. Everyone knows Arian Foster and Wes Welker by now, even if nobody could pick them out of a team's lineup coming out of college. 

But in the same way that a top-ranked player can slide from the first round of the draft to the third, an undrafted free agent can watch other players sign within hours while they wait several days after the draft to finally get a training camp invite.

Let's take a look at some of the talented players who are still looking to latch on and prove their worth to an NFL franchise.


Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Lyerla was projected to be one of the top tight ends in college football until his off-field issues caught up to him and he left the team during the 2013 season.

The former Oregon Duck did workout at the NFL combine in March, and he put up some superb numbers for a guy who hadn't played a game of football since early September.

Colt Lyerla's NFL Combine results
40-yard20-yard10-yardBench Press RepsVertical JumpBroad Jump

Unfortunately for Lyerla, his breathtaking 4.56 40-yard dash wasn't enough to get an NFL team to spend a draft pick on him.

Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller compared Lyerla to the Philadelphia Eagles' James Casey.

Casey is a versatile athlete who plays tight end and fullback in Chip Kelly's offense. Lyerla showed some of the same hybrid, H-back abilities at Oregon, raking in 25 catches for 392 yards and six touchdowns to go along with 77 rushing yards on 13 attempts in 2012.

At this point, Lyerla would be a low-risk, high-reward proposition for a team—such as the Jacksonville Jaguars—looking to add a dynamic player on offense.


Denarius McGhee, QB, Montana State

Kelly Gorham/Associated Press

With all the big-name quarterbacks in this year's NFL draft, it can be tough to garner attention as a Montana State Bobcat playing in the Big Sky Conference.

McGhee spent four years putting up big numbers in Montana, hoping the cheers from the home crowd would echo across the plains and draw NFL scouts out to the tiny city of Bozeman. McGhee finished his career with 11,203 yards, 79 touchdowns and 35 interceptions. He also threw in 1,133 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground throughout his career.

At 6'0" tall, McGhee is further overlooked due to his lack of height. This is the same issue that plagued star college quarterbacks like Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and Johnny Manziel before the NFL draft. For the unsigned McGhee, it looks like the issue is affecting him long after the draft is over.

McGhee has a cannon arm and the ability to move around in the pocket and scramble for extra yardage. He ran a 4.67 40-yard dash at his pro day, according to Kane O'Neill of NBCMontana.com. McGhee also said he got props from the San Diego Chargers' brass on his arm strength, as per O'Neill:

"It's amazing just getting back out there," said McGhee. "I threw well. The guy from the (San Diego) Chargers said I had a big arm. That's a great compliment and I wanted to prove that today."

Gil Brandt of NFL.com considered him an honorable mention for his top-5 senior college quarterback's list, and regarded him as a "Russell Wilson-type athlete."

McGhee is in the mold of former University of San Diego standout Josh Johnson, another quarterback with excellent scrambling ability who carved out an NFL career despite questions about the competition he faced in college.


Bryce Quigley, OT, San Diego State

At 6'4" and 324 pounds, Quigley has enough size to tussle with the other heavies in the NFL. 

He's a converted tight end with excellent footwork and agility for a player his size. Unfortunately, he's coming off a foot injury that has kept scouts from evaluating him at all following his senior season at San Diego State. 

The recovery period that has kept him from working out stems from his decision to play in the Aztecs' bowl game rather than get surgery. Quigley was adamant about finishing up his senior season on his terms, as per Stefanie Loh of U-T San Diego:

“I really wanted to finish out my senior season and play in the bowl game,” Quigley said. “I was projected to get drafted in the later round anyway, if I were to get drafted. So I just wanted to finish off the season right."

The lack of workouts has moved Quigley to the back of the pack of maulers on the offensive line. Quigley's agent, Brian Hannula, maintained his client drew plenty of attention from team's before the draft, with the Houston Texans showing special interest, according to Stefanie Loh of U-T San Diego.

NFLDraftScout.com showed Quigley as the 21st-rated offensive tackle in the draft. He earned all-conference honors in the Mountain West over the past two seasons after switching to his new position. He showed a willingness to do what was best for the team and still perform at very high level. Those are high-character qualities that would be welcome in any NFL locker room.