The Best Undrafted Free Agent in Every 2022 NFL Training Camp
Making an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent is a challenge. Franchises have little, if anything, invested in undrafted rookies, and guaranteed money is rarely a factor. Like all first-year players, they're also completely unproven at the pro level.
In short, undrafted rookies must make themselves indispensable by clearly outperforming both seasoned veterans and their drafted counterparts in training camp. While the odds are long, undrafted rookies can make a team and an early impact—as players like James Robinson and Jarrett Patterson have done in recent years.
Here, we'll examine one undrafted rookie in each training camp who will be worth tracking over the next few weeks. These are players who have a legitimate shot at sticking on a roster or practice squad based on factors like positional value, team needs, team fit, physical upside, playing experience, collegiate production and any relevant offseason buzz.
Which players could be next on the list of undrafted NFL surprises? Let's take a look.
Arizona Cardinals: RB Ronnie Rivers, Fresno State
Former Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers knows a thing or two about making it in the NFL as an undrafted free agent. His father, Ron Rivers, did just that back in 1994 and went on to have a lengthy playing career.
"I've always wanted to play longer than my dad," Rivers said, per Kevin Parrish Jr. of the Arizona Cardinals' official website. "He played eight years, so my goal is to play longer than him."
Now in Arizona, Rivers has a prime opportunity to make the team as a complementary back. The Cardinals kept James Conner but lost Chase Edmonds in free agency. He'll have to compete with the likes of Darrel Williams, Eno Benjamin and fellow undrafted rookie T.J. Pledger, but Rivers has a valuable skill set.
Though undersized at 5'9" and 195 pounds, Rivers is a capable dual-threat back with legitimate third-down value. Last season, he rushed for 788 yards, averaged 4.6 yards per carry and caught 34 passes for 364 yards while scoring seven touchdowns in 11 games.
Over the past three seasons, Rivers logged a combined 104 receptions.
Rivers also has experience returning kickoffs and punts, giving him special-teams value and another track to potentially making the team.
Atlanta Falcons: LB Nate Landman, Colorado
Last season, the Atlanta Falcons struggled to contain the run. While they did rank a respectable 15th in yards per rush attempt allowed, they ranked 26th in yards allowed. Opponents knew that they could chip away at the Atlanta defense on the ground.
Enter former Colorado linebacker Nate Landman. While injuries hampered his 2020 (Achilles) and 2021 (shoulder) campaigns, the 6'3", 235-pound Lindman was a four-year starter for the Buffaloes.
Landman was a force against the run too. In only seven games last season, for example, he tallied 63 total tackles, 45 solo stops and six tackles for loss. Back in 2019, he appeared in 12 games and racked up 113 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks and an interception.
According to ESPN's Michael Rothstein, Landman has made some early offseason noise.
"The undrafted rookie was active in 7-on-7 drills—the only heavy action in the OTA period—and seemed to have a knack for finding the ball," Rothstein wrote.
A true downhill thumper, Landman can find a role as an early down run-stopper and perhaps on the special-teams coverage unit. Physical, experienced and instinctive, Landman at least has a fighting chance.
Baltimore Ravens: WR Makai Polk, Mississippi State
The Baltimore Ravens have some legitimate questions at wide receiver after trading Marquise Brown during April's draft. 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman flashed as a rookie but was inconsistent. Complementary pieces like Devin Duvernay and James Proche II remain largely unproven.
This is part of the reason why Mississippi State product Makai Polk has a real chance to stick on the Ravens roster. There will be an opportunity, and Polk has the goods to take advantage.
A bigger receiver at 6'3" and 200 pounds, Polk has the physical traits needed to be a dangerous perimeter possession receiver.
"Upside talent with good length and impressive ball skills that could foreshadow more to come," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote. "Deciphering Polk's single season of production inside Mike Leach's pass-happy offense will take work."
Polk was quite productive in the Bulldog's offense, finishing the 2021 season with 105 receptions, 1,046 yards and nine touchdowns. He may never replicate those numbers in a more traditional NFL offense—especially in Baltimore's run-oriented scheme—but Polk can be a contributor for a Ravens team that desperately needs receiver talent.
Buffalo Bills: TE Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M
The Buffalo Bills have few notable weaknesses heading into the 2022 season and not many opportunities for undrafted free agents.
However, Texas A&M's Jalen Wydermyer has the physical profile and the proven production to make for a long-term developmental project. The presence of Dawson Knox and free-agent addition O.J. Howard will limit Wydermyer's chances of playing as a rookie, but there's a lot of upside to like.
The 6'5", 255-pound pass-catcher has the desired size of an in-line tight end. Wydermyer was also productive in all three of his seasons with the Aggies.
As a freshman in 2019, Wydermyer caught 32 passes for 447 yards and six touchdowns. He topped 500 receiving yards in each of his next two seasons and finished his college career with 118 receptions and 16 touchdown catches.
Wydermyer will need some time to develop as a route-runner and blocker. However, he has the size and experience to provide immediate depth and eventually step into a complementary role—likely in two-tight-end sets.
With Howard and Knox both set to reach free agency in 2023, the Bills could be inclined to keep Wydermyer or try stashing him on the practice squad as future insurance.
Carolina Panthers: DL Marquan McCall, Kentucky
Size is something that cannot be coached, and Carolina Panthers rookie defensive tackle Marquan McCall has it.
The former Kentucky standout measures in at 6'3" and 379 pounds. While he isn't a superb athlete or pass-rusher, he has a lot of upside as an interior space-eater and run-down contributor.
"McCall has a generally impressive understanding of what kinds of blocks he is getting," Derrik Klassen of the Bleacher Report Scouting Department wrote. "McCall is quick to feel what concept he is getting, take on the block accordingly and find the ball carrier. Additionally, McCall has good strength once he gets latched on."
Last season with the Wildcats, McCall missed four games with an ankle injury and had a mere nine tackles (3.5 for loss). Two years ago, however, he appeared in nine games and tallied 22 tackles, nine solo stops and a half-sack.
The Panthers have some talent on their defensive interior—headlined by Derrick Brown and newcomer Matt Ioannidis. However, McCall has a chance to stick as a rotational nose and run-stopping specialist.
Chicago Bears: LB Jack Sanborn, Wisconsin
Unlike McCall, Chicago Bears linebacker Jack Sanborn could push for playing time early in his career. The Bears don't have a ton of proven linebacker depth, aside from star Roquan Smith; Sanborn has experience with a significant role.
Sanborn saw 11 games of action at Wisconsin as a freshman in 2018 and appeared in 45 games over four seasons. Last year, he compiled 89 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss and five sacks. He received first-team All-Big-Ten honors for his impressive campaign.
While Sanborn isn't an elite athlete, he has a solid combination of size (6'2", 236 pounds) and quickness (4.73-second 40-yard dash time). He has the tools needed to be an early-down chase-and-tackle linebacker in defensive coordinator Alan Williams' system.
It's actually a tad surprising that Sanborn—who was the 171st-ranked prospect on the B/R Scouting Department's big board—didn't hear his name called over draft weekend.
Sanborn's ceiling is limited, but he has a high floor as a run-stopper and a legitimate shot to not only earn a spot in the final 53 but to see the field as a rookie.
Cincinnati Bengals: WR Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina
The Cincinnati Bengals have a tremendous trio of receivers atop their depth chart. Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja'Marr Chase form one of the best starting groups in the NFL.
However, Cincinnati could use another playmaker in its receiver room. Mike Thomas ranked fourth among Bengals wideouts last season with a mere five catches.
Enter Coastal Carolina product Jaivon Heiligh, one of the biggest steals of post-draft free agency. The 104th-ranked prospect on the B/R Board, Heiligh almost certainly would have heard his name called in a draft featuring less receiver depth up top.
Last season, Heiligh had 66 receptions for 1,128 yards and seven touchdowns—setting a new school record for single-season receiving.
With good size (6'2", 200 lbs) and plenty of downfield ability, Heiligh could give Cincinnati another big-play threat on the perimeter right out of the gate. At best, Heiligh could become a potent No. 4 option who allows the Bengals to more frequently go four- and five-wide. At worst, he should be a solid piece of developmental depth who can also contribute on special teams.
Cleveland Browns: CB Shaun Jolly, Appalachian State
The Cleveland Browns have invested heavily in the cornerback position in recent years. They used a first-round pick on Greg Newsome II last year, inked Denzel Ward to a long-term extension this offseason and use a third-round pick—their first in April's draft—on Martin Emerson Jr.
The Browns clearly value defensive backs, but this is only part of the reason why undrafted Appalachian State product Shaun Jolly could make the team.
Jolly is undersized at 5'9" and 175 pounds, but he possesses tremendous overage skills.
"An East-West Shrine Bowl invitee, he was able to compete with all receivers, showing why he was a multiple year All-American," Cory Giddings of the B/R Scouting Department wrote. "His breaking ability was evident, as well as his press-man ability."
Last season with the Mountaineers, Jolly logged 26 tackles, five passes defended and an interception. He notched 18 pass breakups and six interceptions over the past three seasons combined.
While length and run-support ability are questions for the smaller Jolly, his ability to play outside or at nickel could make him a valuable piece of depth in Cleveland. If the Browns cannot find room for him on the active roster, expect them to try stashing him on the practice squad.
Dallas Cowboys: C Alec Lindstrom, Boston College
NFL fans don't often get excited about backup-level offensive linemen. However, the Dallas Cowboys' line depth has been tested frequently over the last couple of years, and any insurance should be viewed as a positive.
The former Boston College center Alec Lindstrom can provide insurance, at least at center. He doesn't possess elite size (6'3", 298 lbs) or positional versatility, but Lindstrom is a three-year starter with a refined technique.
"Lindstrom is a center-only prospect with roster potential who checks the boxes from a football character, bloodlines, experience and intelligence perspective," Brandon Thorn of the B/R Scouting Department wrote. "He also has excellent competitive toughness on tape."
While Lindstrom may never develop into a full-time starter like his brother and Falcons guard Chris, he has a high enough floor to provide early insurance and perhaps a spot start in a pinch.
Lindstrom should have a legitimate chance to beat out 2021 seventh-round pick Matt Farniok as the primary backup to center Tyler Biadasz this season.
Denver Broncos: Edge Christopher Allen, Alabama
The Denver Broncos traded away Von Miller last season and replaced him with former Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory in free agency. While Gregory and Bradley Chubb should serve as a solid pass-rushing duo, teams with playoff aspirations can always use depth.
Now that Russell Wilson is under center for Denver, the Broncos should be eying the postseason.
Undrafted free agent Christopher Allen has the potential to slot in as a complementary piece alongside Chubb, Gregory and Dre'Mont Jones.
The Alabama product likely went undrafted because of health concerns—he missed most of 2021 with a broken foot and all of 2018 with a knee injury. However, Allen was a force for the Crimson Tide two years ago, racking up 37 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and six sacks in 11 games.
The 6'4", 252-pound Allen has adequate size for an edge-rusher, a solid technical foundation and experience in plenty of big-game action in the SEC.
The 163rd-ranked prospect on the B/R board, Allen was worthy of a flier at the tail end of April's draft. Denver took a gamble after the draft, and if Allen can remain healthy, it could pay off as soon as this season.
Detroit Lions: WR Josh Johnson, Tulsa
The Detroit Lions made a couple of moves to improve their receiving corps this offseason. They signed former Jacksonville Jaguars Pro Bowler DJ Chark Jr. and traded up to land Jameson Williams in the first round.
However, Williams is working his way back from a torn ACL and may not be ready to open the season.
Even with Williams, Chark and Amon-Ra St. Brown headlining the receiver room, the rebuilding Lions could use depth. Former Tulsa and Iowa State receiver Josh Johnson could provide it. Though on the smaller side at 5'11" and 171 pounds, Johnson is a legitimate deep threat who won't catch everything but will stretch the field.
"He will stress defenses with his vertical juice and has the burst to uncover over the first two levels with more route-running polish," Zierlein wrote.
Johnson showed a big jump in production in his final season with the Golden Hurricanes, going from 499 receiving yards to 1,114 with six touchdowns. As a complementary slot speedster, Johnson's upside will be tough to ignore, especially by a team hunting for young, long-term contributors.
Green Bay Packers: RB Tyler Goodson, Iowa
The Green Bay Packers have a tremendous running-back duo in Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. If former Iowa running back Tyler Goodson is going to make the active roster, he'll have to do so as a No. 3 or No. 4 complement.
That path, though, isn't outlandish for the 21-year-old. Green Bay isn't exactly loaded with proven depth, having Kylin Hill, Patrick Taylor and fellow undrafted rookie B.J. Baylor also on the roster.
Goodson brings a high level of upside to the proverbial table. An All-Big-Ten selection in 2020, he was statistically even better last year. In 2021, Goodson finished with 1,151 rushing yards, 247 receiving yards and seven combined touchdowns.
A versatile dual-threat back, Goodson has the tools needed to make his mark as a part-time player and special-teamer. Like many of the undrafted backs on this list, Goodson is a bit undersized at 5'10" and 199 pounds. He's solidly built however and possesses legitimate 4.42 speed.
While Goodson doesn't possess the size or the physicality of a lead ball carrier, he should have an outside chance of cracking Green Bay's final 53.
Houston Texans: OT Myron Cunningham, Arkansas
The rebuilding Houston Texans should be more than happy to take on projects like the former Arkansas offensive tackle Myron Cunningham.
While Cunningham lacks polish and elite athleticism, he possesses tremendous size for the position and showed a lot of progress throughout his college career. The 6'6", 325-pound blocker was a National Junior College All-American before transferring to Arkansas, where he started at right guard and left tackle.
With the Razorbacks, Cunningham earned a reputation as a hard worker and offensive leader.
"I was able to witness what Myron was doing and he busts his tail," Arkansas running backs coach Jimmy Smith said, per Trey Biddy of 247Sports. "He worked hard, stayed in the film room, lifted weights, was getting bigger and getting stronger, and the whole offensive line followed behind. I feel like he's a good leader."
Cunningham is probably too unrefined to see playing time as a rookie, but he has the potential to develop into a long-term depth player with positional versatility.
Indianapolis Colts: LB JoJo Domann, Nebraska
With Matt Ryan now under center, the Indianapolis Colts figure to be a contender in the AFC. They'll be looking for the 53 players who can help them win now, and undrafted linebacker JoJo Domann could potentially do exactly that.
Domann was the 154th-ranked prospect on the B/R board and projects as a second-level contributor who operates best in coverage support.
"He showed the ability to drop into zone coverage with his head on a swivel, comfortably playing the space behind him as well as showing the hair trigger to come down and tackle on yards-after-the-catch chances," Klassen wrote. "Domann's physicality also shined on pass reps, where he often pressed and rerouted receivers properly."
Last season at Nebraska, Domann logged 71 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks, three passes defended and two interceptions. The 6'1", 230-pound defender probably won't be as much of an all-around linebacker early in his career. However, Domann could earn early playing time as a pass-down specialist and special-teamer.
With a strong camp and preseason, Domann will have a shot to make the active roster. If the Colts don't believe he can contribute right away, look for them to try stashing the athletic rookie on the practice squad.
Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Kevin Austin Jr., Notre Dame
The Jacksonville Jaguars aren't expected to contend in 2022, though if things finally click for second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence, anything could happen.
Jacksonville's focus this season should be on establishing building blocks that can support Lawrence long-term. This is where former Notre Dame receiver Kevin Austin Jr. comes into play.
Austin is a relatively raw prospect who was suspended in 2019 (for undisclosed reasons) and limited to one game in 2020 by a broken foot. However, he burst onto the scene in 2021, logging 48 receptions, 888 yards and seven touchdowns.
From a traits standpoint, Austin has everything Jacksonville could want in a young receiver. The 6'2", 215-pound pass-catcher logged a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at the combine to go with an impressive 132-inch broad jump.
While Austin will need time to develop into a complete pro, he has a tremendous upside and could develop into a fixture on the perimeter.
The Jags have a few solid receivers now—including Marvin Jones Jr., Laviska Shenault and newcomer Christian Kirk—but Austin has the potential to be one of Lawrence's favorite targets in a couple of years.
Kansas City Chiefs: LB Mike Rose, Iowa State
While the Kansas City Chiefs defense saw improvement through the 2021 season—it finished ranked eighth in points allowed—it maintained a tendency to surrender yards in chunks. Kansas City ranked 30th in yards per rush attempt and 26th in yards per pass attempt allowed.
Undrafted linebacker Mike Rose may not be able to help Kansas City's run defense right away, but he has a lot of upside as a situational coverage linebacker.
"Rose is a comfortable zone defender at all depths. He does well to track what throwing windows are behind him," Klassen wrote. "He also proved comfortable being the deep 'pole runner' in Cover 2 and showed the ability to change directions in open grass."
While Rose has adequate size for the NFL (6'4", 250 lbs), he isn't a particularly physical run-stopper who can regularly make plays in the box. He did log 73 tackles (12 for loss) last season but was more efficient in space than in traffic.
Even as a relatively one-dimensional linebacker, though, Rose could provide early value in sub-packages. At worst, the four-year Iowa State starter should have an opportunity to stick as a special-teamer.
Las Vegas Raiders: DL Myron Tagovailoa-amosa, Notre Dame
The Las Vegas Raiders bolstered their pass-rush this offseason by signing Chandler Jones to complement Pro Bowler Maxx Crosby. However, Las Vegas' pass-rushing depth behind those two remains questionable.
Therefore, it was of little surprise when the Raiders took a flier on Notre Dame product Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa as an undrafted free agent.
Tagovailoa-Amosa isn't a pure edge-rusher but rather more of a hybrid defensive lineman. At 6'2" and 282 pounds, he can collapse the pocket and anchor against the run. This past season, Tagovailoa-Amosa had 18 solo stops, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and one fumble recovery.
While Tagovailoa-Amosa may never be a double-digit-sacks player, he has the refined technique and high floor needed to be a versatile piece of the rotation.
"He plays with proactive hands and decent length, allowing him to keep offensive linemen out of his frame and on the backfoot on many reps," Klassen wrote. "That leaves Tagovailoa-Amosa to be mostly a technique and effort pass-rusher, but as a depth player, there is a role for guys like that."
Given his skill set and Las Vegas' need for depth up front, Tagovailoa-Amosa has a decent shot at making the regular-season roster.
Los Angeles Chargers: RB Leddie Brown, West Virginia
The Los Angeles Chargers have a star dual-threat back in Austin Ekeler, but they've long lacked a reliable complementary runner. The selection of Texas A&M's Isaiah Spiller in Round 4 may address that particular need. However, West Virginia's Leddie Brown should still have a chance to stick as a complementary back.
Being 5'11" and 216 pound power back, Brown has shown that he can burst through arm tackles and handle a large workload.
At West Virginia last season, Brown carried the ball 223 times for 1,065 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 36 passes for 217 yards and another score—showcasing his dual-threat ability.
However, Brown is not especially fast (4.64-second for his 40-yard dash) or elusive, making him best suited for short-yardage work and for the occasional spell.
Still, the tough inside runner could be the perfect complement to Ekeler and Spiller over the long term. It won't come as a total shock to see Brown push Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree III for a spot on the Chargers' active roster.
Los Angeles Rams: K Cameron Dicker, Texas
While the Browns did take Cade York in the fourth round of this year's draft, specialists are rarely drafted highly, if at all—York was the only kicker selected this year.
Therefore, it's not surprising that Texas' Cameron Dicker gets his first NFL opportunity as an undrafted free agent. The problem is that he landed with the Los Angeles Rams, who have a Pro Bowler in 28-year-old Matt Gay.
However, Dicker has a shot to at least make the Rams' practice squad because of his positional versatility. He also handled punts for the Longhorns in 2021.
"He appears to have legitimate dual-role potential, which adds roster value," Zierlein wrote. "He has good size and athleticism and can tackle when needed. Versatility improves his chances of making a roster as a Day 3 pick."
Los Angeles has punter Riley Dixon, who comes over from the New York Giants. He ranked just 23rd in the NFL (tied) last season with an average of 44.4 yards per punt. Dicker averaged 46.8 yards per punt in 2021 while also making 13 of 15 field-goal attempts and 49 of 50 point-after tries.
Dicker could prove to be an upgrade over Dixon now and could potentially be primed to eventually replace Gay, who is on a one-year deal. Because of Dicker's big leg and versatility, the Rams may have to carry him on the active roster or risk another team plucking him off the practice squad.
Miami Dolphins: RB ZaQuandre White, South Carolina
Last season, the Miami Dolphins were one of the league's worst rushing teams, ranking 30th in yards and 31st in yards per carry. Unsurprisingly, Miami overhauled its backfield this offseason.
The Dolphins did retain Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and Gerrid Doaks. However, they also added Sony Michel, Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds to the equation. The fight to make the roster will be fierce, and undrafted rookie ZaQuandre White could throw a curveball into the proceedings.
White had a limited resume at South Carolina, logging only 104 carries in two seasons—he was a linebacker at Florida State before transferring. However, he averaged an impressive 6.6 yards per carry last season while also catching 19 passes and finding the end zone five times.
With a powerful 6'1", 215-pound frame, an explosive running style and solid hands, White has the potential to develop into a regular contributor at the next level. He's relatively unpolished but also wasn't overworked at the college level.
Expect White to come into camp with fresh legs and to make Miami think twice about cutting him or sending him down to the practice squad.
Minnesota Vikings: S Mike Brown, Miami University
The Minnesota Vikings hope to have a solid safety tandem in Harrison Smith and rookie first-round pick Lewis Cine. However, it always helps to have a reliable third safety in the rotation, and Miami University product Mike Brown can be that player.
Brown comes from Miami (Ohio) as a five-year collegiate player and a regular starter in three of those seasons. He has good size (6'1", 222 lbs) and is a physical defender who could contribute early in the box.
Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell often rotated in third safety Caden Sterns last season with the Denver Broncos. While Sterns only made two starts in 2021, he played 32 percent of the defensive snaps.
In his final season with the Redhawks, Brown tallied 66 tackles, one forced fumble, one pass defended, 2.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. Given his ability to attack the backfield, Brown could serve as a situational hybrid linebacker/safety who plays close to the line of scrimmage.
And if Brown cannot claim that role as a rookie, he has the size, experience and physical traits needed to stick as a special teamer.
New England Patriots: S Brenden Schooler, Texas
The New England Patriots might value positional versatility and upside more than any team in the NFL. It's why they're willing to draft an athlete like Julian Edelman and find a role for him later and why special-teams ace Matthew Slater has had a job in New England for 14 seasons.
Former Texas safety Brenden Schooler might be the perfect undrafted prospect for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
Schooler began his college career with Oregon as a receiver. He then transferred to Texas, where he played receiver for a year before switching to defensive back in 2021. In his first year at the position, Schooler logged 50 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a half sack, a forced fumble and two passes defended.
While somewhat new to playing in the secondary, Schooler has tremendous physical upside. The 6'2", 201-pounder possesses good size, a receiver's hands and plenty of speed—which he showed off at Texas' pro day.
"Schooler dazzled at Pro Day," Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News tweeted. "He was clocked at 4.38 and 4.42 by some scouts in the 40. Schooler worked on DB and WR drills today."
Two-way players are a rarity in today's NFL, and we may not see Schooler taking on that role—though Edelman did it on occasion. However, his experience in multiple positions, his skill set and his speed could make him a long-term depth player and core special-teamer in New England or elsewhere.
New Orleans Saints: RB Abram Smith, Baylor
The New Orleans Saints face some uncertainty at running back heading into the 2022 season. Star runner/receiver Alvin Kamara is one of the league's best, but he could also face league discipline following his February arrest on felony battery charges.
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk reported last month that Kamara is "bracing" for a suspension of at least six games.
Even if Kamara avoids suspension, the Saints could use depth at running back to complement his dual role as runner and pass-catcher. New Orleans brought back Mark Ingram II last season, but it also added Abram Smith as an undrafted free agent.
Smith is a very interesting fit for New Orleans. The 5'11", 221-pound ball-carrier is an explosive runner who churned out 1,601 rushing yards and 6.2 yards per carry last season at Baylor.
While Smith isn't an experience pass-catcher, he is adept at pass-protection, which dramatically helps his chances of making the team.
"Smith shows excellent eyes and discipline as a pass protector, seldom blowing his assignment," Klassen wrote. "He also impresses with good pad level and strength, allowing him to stand up to most of the defenders he is blocking,"
Keeping Jameis Winston and/or Andy Dalton upright will be a priority for the Saints this season. If Smith can be trusted to do that, he could earn a prominent spot in the backfield rotation.
New York Giants: S Yusuf Corker, Kentucky
The Giants appear to have a rising star in safety Xavier McKinney, and Julian Love appears to be in line for a starting opportunity next to him. New York also has Jarren Williams and rookie fourth-round pick Dane Belton in its safety room.
Yet, the odds of Kentucky product Yusuf Corker making the roster don't seem all too long.
A three-year starter for the Wildcats, Corker is a wonderful coverage safety who will contest passes at the point of the catch. This past season, he logged eight pass deflections, a sack and 82 total tackles.
While Corker isn't the most consistent tackler, he's willing to initiate contact. Although perhaps not rangy enough to be a true single-high safety, Corker has all the tools to be a fine complementary piece on the back end.
"Hip tightness limits his transition fluidity in space, but his recognition is good and he plays with a downhill trigger that can bring him ball production," Zierlein wrote. "Corker's tackling must improve, but he's a good player with dime safety potential."
If the Giants are able to coach a better tackling approach out of Corker, he could prove to be a post-draft steal. As things stand, he has a shot at sticking as a special-teamer and sub-package defender.
New York Jets: RB Zonovan Knight, N.C. State
The New York Jets spent this offseason loading up on players who can support second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. In the second round of April's draft, they added Breece Hall to a running back room that already included Michael Carter, Tevin Coleman, La'Mical Perine and Ty Carter.
Undrafted North Carolina State product Zonovan Knight isn't overtaking Carter or Hall on the depth chart, but he could stick as a No. 3 or No. 4 option.
The 5'11", 210-pound Knight is a physical runner who also possesses good receiving ability and special-teams potential. Last season, he rushed for 753 yards and 5.4 yards per carry while catching 21 passes for 156 yards. He also returned 16 kicks for 550 yards and two touchdowns.
Knight's potential as a return specialist gives him his best chance at a job with the Jets. However, his dual-threat ability could also earn him a backfield role in the not-too-distant future. While New York brought back Coleman this offseason, they only did so on a one-year deal.
Philadelphia Eagles: QB Carson Strong, Nevada
The Philadelphia Eagles may have their next franchise quarterback in Jalen Hurts, who led the team back to the postseason in 2021. While the Eagles won't have a competition for the starting job, the role of long-term backup may be up for grabs.
Philadelphia has Gardner Minshew II for now, but he's entering the final year of his rookie deal. With a respectable career passer rating of 93.9, Minshew could get some looks as a potential starter next offseason.
This is where undrafted quarterback Carson Strong enters the equation. The Nevada product was pegged by many as a potential mid-round pick—he was the 110th-ranked prospect on the B/R board—but he landed with Philly after the draft.
While Strong is not the mobile dual-threat that Hurts is, there's a lot to like about his potential as a pocket passer. The 6'4", 215-pound passer has great size and accuracy for the position, plus a solid grasp of what defenses are showing him.
Last season, Strong completed 70.1 percent of his passes for 4,175 yards with 36 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He was named the 2021 Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year
Strong has a history of knee issues that may have caused him to fall out of the draft. However, he has all the tools—if he can remain healthy—to become a long-time NFL backup.
Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Chris Steele, USC
The Pittsburgh Steelers are entering a rebuilding year for the first time in nearly two decades. With the offseason retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers will turn to a new quarterback—likely either Mitch Trubisky or rookie Kenny Pickett.
Ideally, the Steelers' eighth-ranked pass defense won't change much with Levi Wallace taking over for Joe Haden opposite Ahkello Witherspoon. Undrafted USC product Chris Steele might just help provide some extra insurance there.
The former Florida transfer wasn't particularly consistent in college but showed flashes of ball-hawking potential—he logged three passes defended and two interceptions last season. He also has solid size (6'1", 190 lbs), good speed (4.48-second 40-yard dash) and experience playing multiple coverages.
Steele logged 12 passes defended and three interceptions in three seasons with the Trojans.
A former four-star recruit, Steele has loads of untapped potential. The question, of course, is whether he can put everything together as a pro. That could take time, but Steele's physical tools should allow him to make a bid for special teams or the practice squad as a rookie.
San Francisco 49ers: C Dohnovan West, Arizona State
Former Arizona State interior lineman Dohnovan West has as good a chance of any undrafted free agent of sticking with a roster this season. The retirement of San Francisco 49ers center Alex Mack opened up a prime opportunity for the rookie.
At center, San Francisco is currently set to run with Jake Brendel, who has only three NFL starts on his resume. The only other viable option on the roster is Daniel Brunskill, who is slated to start at guard.
West, who was the 111th-ranked prospect on the final B/R board, has a clear path to the backup role. There's reason to believe that the 6'4", 300-pound blocker can handle it.
"West needs to land on a coaching staff that can build in some additional help for him in certain matchups, but with how young he is, there is a runway for improvement and the tools to develop into a starter in the right situation," Thorn wrote.
A three-year starter at Arizona State, West has experience playing every position along the interior. If he cannot lock down a role at center specifically, West should have little trouble finding a home as a versatile multi-position backup.
Seattle Seahawks: S Bubba Bolden, Miami
The Seattle Seahawks are in rebuilding mode after trading away star quarterback Russell Wilson. This could benefit traits-based prospects who are more likely to contribute in a year or two than right away.
Former Miami safety Bubba Bolden is just such a prospect. The 6'3", 204-pound defensive back has loads of physical upside and movement skills but was often inconsistent with the Hurricanes.
Bolden battled a shoulder injury in 2021 but still finished with 42 tackles, a sack and two passes defended in seven games. Even when healthy, though, he had a tendency to miss tackles.
"Although Bolden does a good job tracking the ball from a distance, he has a few more missed tackles than you would like. He's best in the box or close to the line of scrimmage," Giddings wrote.
If Bolden can clean up his tackling issues, he could develop into a regular defensive contributor. His combination of size and speed (4.47-second 40-yard dash) will at least give him a shot to stick as a rookie special-teamer.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Deven Thompkins, Utah State
With wideouts like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller, Breshad Perriman and now Russell Gage on the roster, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady won't be hurting for targets in 2022.
However, former Utah State receiver Deven Thompkins could wind up carving out a rookie role. Though undersized (5'8", 155 lbs), Thompkins is an explosive playmaker who has already grabbed the attention of new head coach Todd Bowles.
"I would love to see what Thompkins does in training camp," Bowles said, per The Athletic's Greg Auman. "He's quick, he’s fast, he’s explosive off the ball, and he’s made some good catches. So we want to see how he continues to learn and how he does in training camp and preseason. I’ll be looking at him."
Thompkins showed plenty of big-play ability last season with the Aggies, catching 102 passes for 1,704 yards with 10 touchdowns. He also carried five times for 27 yards and returned kickoffs for a 23-yard average.
While Thompkins may not get frequent opportunities, his speed and versatility could earn him first-year playing time and will give him a chance to stick on the active roster.
Tennessee Titans: DL Jayden Peevy, Texas A&M
The Tennessee Titans defense is led by a physical and aggressive front seven that features Harold Landry III, Denico Autry, Jeffery Simmons and Bud Dupree. While the defensive line is a team strength, there should be room on Tennessee's roster for Texas A&M product Jayden Peevy.
Peevy is a big (6'", 295 lbs), and athletic interior defender. While he isn't particularly quick (5.3-second 40-yard dash), Peevy can chew up blockers, clog running lanes and collapse the pocket.
With the Aggies last season, Peevy racked up 43 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. With improved technique and conditioning, Peevy could be even better as a pro.
"He's a nasty, relentless player who packs a ton of punch in his upper body," Klassen wrote. "He may not be the craftiest hand fighter right now, but he brings enough power and length that he makes it work."
Peevy was ranked as the 106th-best prospect on the B/R board and also named its "biggest sleeper" along the defensive line. The Titans are getting a bundle of potential in him, and it would be a surprise to see them risk losing Peevy to a practice-squad claim.
Washington Commanders: TE Armani Rogers, Ohio
The Washington Commanders took steps to improve their passing attack this offseason, trading for quarterback Carson Wentz and adding first-round receiver Jahan Dotson. Washington, though, still has a bit of a question mark at tight end.
Projected starter Logan Thomas is 31 years old and is coming off of an injury-plagued season. Hamstring and knee injuries landed him on injured reserve twice in 2021. Washington lacks proven depth, with John Bates and rookie fifth-round pick Cole Turner behind him on the depth chart.
This is where former Ohio Bobcats and UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers could make an impact. Like Thomas did early in his career, Rogers is making the switch to tight end and impressed during the pre-draft process.
"Thoroughly impressed at #ShrineBowl as a 'move TE', first time he’s ever played the position," East-West Shrine Bowl director of football operations Eric Galko tweeted.
At Rogers' pro day, he ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash. He rushed for 552 yards and seven touchdowns last season at Ohio. The 24-year-old has a tremendous amount of upside and could easily stick as a developmental tight end in Washington.