2014 Undrafted Free Agents: Players with Most Potential to Make NFL Impact

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IMay 13, 2014

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw runs on the field before the first half of an NCAA college football game against Clemson on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

The majority of undrafted free agents who sign with NFL teams will fail to stick in the league. Some of these guys, however, will make it and will make an impact. 

As Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar points out, 31 percent of the collective NFL roster last season was made up of undrafted players. For instance, Vontaze Burfict went undrafted in 2012, and since then he has made 298 combined tackles in two seasons. 

Of course, his is a standout success story, but there will be players who log long careers despite being overlooked in this most recent draft. I'll be keeping my eye on the following three.


Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina 

Connor Shaw went 27-5 as a starter at South Carolina. Last season, he posted a ridiculous stat line of 24 touchdowns and one interception.

He is, however, just 6' and injury prone. His arm strength isn't great either, and he's coming out of a gimmicky offense. These are big concerns, but he has the talent to overcome them. 

Shaw exhibits good accuracy and decision-making skills, and he moves well. He doesn't have the body to withstand the consistent abuse of the NFL as a starter, but he will be a quality backup. He is the kind of quarterback who could step in and competently run an offense. Teams can't ask for much more in a backup. 

Shaw signed with the Cleveland Browns, which puts him in the shadow of Johnny Manziel. He may not stick with the Browns, but he does have a home in the NFL. 


Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee

Antonio Richardson signed with the Minnesota Vikings after the draft, and he's a good fit there. He is 6'6" and 336 pounds and has the strength to match his massive frame. He also moves well for his size. He can be a true mauler in the NFL. 

There are reasons he wasn't drafted, though. He has bad technique and may struggle to stay in good enough shape to retain his quickness and agility. 

Richardson will fit right in with Minnesota's power-run-blocking system. He will have to put in some work, but he will get the coaching needed to clean up his technique. Richardson may never be able to handle playing tackle in the NFL, but he has the ability to excel as a guard. 


Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida

Marcus Roberson was part of a Florida secondary that included Loucheiz Purifoy and entered last season with huge expectations only to underwhelm. Both Roberson and Purifoy were expected to be selected in the first half of the draft as recently as last season, but both were passed over.

I, for one, am surprised Roberson wasn't selected in the later rounds. He does have some legitimate red flags. He hasn't been able to stay healthy and he hasn't shown any ability to play bump coverage. That won't improve against stiffer competition in the NFL.

He has also proven to be overaggressive on receiver's breaks, which often renders him vulnerable. Still, Roberson is quick and instinctive. He can play off coverage and succeed at the professional level.

Roberson signed with the St. Louis Rams, and he has a long way to go before he could handle an outside receiver in the NFL one-on-one. He is a natural to cover the slot, though, where his playing style will work well.