Lost amid the drama of the NFL lockout was the plight of the players who went undrafted in last April’s NFL Draft.
Typically, these players would be signed in droves by teams the day after the draft to fill out the rosters for training camp, with some beating the odds to achieving a successful career.
However, due to the lockout, the already steep odds facing the undrafted free agents became all the more daunting. Without the benefit of offseason camps and activities, these players will now have to absorb a team’s playbook and make enough of an impression on the coaching staff to warrant a spot on the 53-man roster or the practice squad.
With the lockout over, these players are now being signed, with Arizona State having three of their own already inking deals with NFL teams.
Wide receiver Kerry Taylor, kicker Thomas Weber and defensive back LeQuan Landry all announced they had agreed to deals and will be heading to training camp. Let's examine their situations on their new teams and their chances of making the squad.
Taylor, ASU’s leading receiver a season ago, will be joining the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. He appears unlikely to make the opening day roster, as the Packers are loaded at the position with Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and James Jones already established and rookie Randall Cobb coming in as a second-round pick. Working in his favor is Jones' free agent status, and he figures to attract a lot of attention from other teams.
While a hard worker with dependable hands, Taylor’s best hope is to land on the practice squad or perform well enough in Packer camp to warrant a spot on another team’s roster.
Weber faces better odds with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Despite a dreadful senior season, Weber has a NFL-caliber leg and the competition with the Bengals figures to not be as stiff, with two kickers returning who had time with the team. Mike Nugent was 15-of-19 in his field goal attempts last season, while Clint Stitser was 7-of-8. Kicker is one of the most disposable positions in the NFL, so a strong camp, coupled with the low salary of an undrafted rookie could land Weber a spot on the team.
Prognosis: Makes Team
Lewis will head to the Tennessee Titans where he will attempt to join a cornerback corps headed by Cortland Finnegan. He will have a tough battle against players such as Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner for a spot on what was the NFL’s fourth ranked passing defense in 2010. However, Lewis has added value in that he is an explosive kick returner.
Last season at ASU, Lewis boasted an excellent 28.5 yard return average and returned a kick 100 yards for a touchdown against USC. Even with Marc Mariani on the roster as a proven returner, Lewis’ versatile skillset will help his cause for a practice squad spot.
Prognosis: Practice Squad
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