Undrafted free agents must seize every opportunity they get in order to overcome long odds and make rosters. For the rookies who went unselected in the 2014 NFL draft, the first opportunities to work their way up depth charts comes in the offseason workouts that will continue to take place the rest of May and into June.
Although high-profile draft picks like No. 1 overall selection Jadeveon Clowney and new Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel will take up a large chunk of the rookie spotlight, their performances in offseason workouts are far less important, at least in regard to their roster standings, than those of undrafted rookies trying to earn a spot.
While many undrafted free agents will go into training camp with minimal expectations from outside team circles, there are typically a number of UDFAs who make their mark in OTAs and minicamps.
Last year, Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin and New England Patriots wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins were among the undrafted rookies who turned heads in offseason workouts. Both ended up starting games for their teams during the regular season.
Once the uniforms are on and the practices are underway, any rookie signed to a roster will have a shot to make waves and prove why he belongs on his new NFL team’s depth chart.
It’s not easy to predict which surprise rookies will stand out—among the UDFA crop, it’s often the lesser-known guys who emerge from the shadows rather than the bigger-name prospects few expected to fall—but each of the following eight players are in situations where they should have real chances to make names for themselves.