Report Card Grades for the 50 Most Notable Undrafted Free Agent Signings
There have been some very productive undrafted free agents, like top-notch running back Arian Foster. This shows that talent can be found after the NFL draft ends. The fact that there's still talent available is why there's such a mad dash to sign players.
This year's group of undrafted free agents includes running backs like Chris Polk and Tauren Poole. There's also a large group of talented smaller-school offensive line prospects. These players have some upside if developed.
No. 50 to No. 45
50. Donnie Fletcher, DB, Boston College: New York Jets
Grade: B. A savvy corner who could do some good work in the slot.
49. Tramain Thomas, DB, Arkansas: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Grade: B. Depth is needed in Tampa's secondary.
48. Jarrett Boykin, WR, Virginia Tech: Jacksonville Jaguars
Grade: B. Jacksonville still needs to find some talent at wide receiver.
47. G.J. Kinne, QB, Tulsa: New York Jets
Grade: C-. He is a good athlete who could see time in a Wildcat situation.
46. Ronnie Cameron, DT, Old Dominion: Chicago Bears
Grade: B. Chicago didn't add any defensive tackles during the draft.
45. Darrell Scott, RB, USF: Dallas Cowboys
Grade: C-. Scott has upside, but also some character concerns.
No. 44 to No. 35
44. Charles Brown, DB, North Carolina: Baltimore Ravens
Grade: C+. Brings experience and savvy play.
43. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington: Seattle Seahawks
Grade: B-. Local guy with some good athleticism.
42. Eric Latimore, DE, Penn State: Minnesota Vikings
Grade: B. Made some noise during the All-Star games.
41. Lance Lewis, WR, ECU: Washington Redskins
Grade: C+. Limited picks for the Redskins means opportunities for UDFAs.
40. Brian Linthicum, TE, Michigan State: New York Jets
Grade: B. Could provide depth, effort and special teams play.
39. Adewale Ojomo, DE, Miami (FL): New York Giants
Grade: B+. New York knows how to develop defensive ends.
38. Coryell Judie, CB, Texas A&M: Denver Broncos
Grade: B+. At one point he held a mid-round grade.
37. Jacquies Smith, DE, Missouri: Miami Dolphins
Grade: C+. Not much upside but can rush the quarterback.
36. Derek Moye, WR, Penn State: Miami Dolphins
Grade: B. Good size and surprising speed.
35. Marc Tyler, RB, USC: Green Bay Packers
Grade: B+. Tough runner who failed to live up to potential.
No. 34 to No. 21
34. Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford: San Francisco 49ers
Grade: B. Speed guy who is familiar with Harbaugh.
33. Tydreke Powell, DT, North Carolina: Minnesota Vikings
Grade: C+. Underachiever who can stuff the run.
32. Jerry Franklin, LB, Arkansas: Denver Broncos
Grade: C+. Undersized but a good athlete.
31. Chad Diehl, FB, Clemson: Baltimore Ravens
Grade: A. Tough guy who loves to open running lanes.
30. Aaron Corp, QB, Richmond: Buffalo Bills
Grade: C-. Undersized but has a good arm.
29. Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama: Pittsburgh Steelers
Grade: B. Experienced and productive in the tough SEC.
28. Levy Adcock, OT, Oklahoma State: Dallas Cowboys
Grade: B. Size player with ability to open running lanes.
27. Lucas Nix, G, Pittsburgh: Oakland Raiders
Grade: C+. Depth player who can play guard or tackle.
26. Gerell Robinson, WR, Arizona State: Denver Broncos
Grade: B+. Someone to help Brock Osweiler feel comfortable, and he possesses upside.
25. Janzen Jackson, S, McNeese State: New York Giants
Grade: B. Very talented but comes with character concerns.
24. Jeff Adams, OT, Columbia: Dallas Cowboys
Grade: B+. Small-school guy with some potential.
23. Duke Ihenacho, S, San Jose State: Denver Broncos
Grade: B. Tough player and possible special-teams ace.
22. Rishaw Johnson, OG, California (PA): Seattle Seahawks
Grade: B+. Another talented player from a smaller school.
21. Aaron Henry, S, Wisconsin: Oakland Raiders
Grade: B+. Underrated and could push for roster spot.
No. 11 to No. 20
20. Tony Dye, S, UCLA: Cincinnati Bengals
Grade: C+. Injury concerns are what kept Dye from being drafted.
19. Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M: Miami Dolphins
Grade: A-. Likely to make roster as familiar target for Ryan Tannehill.
18. Jaymes Brooks, G, Virginia Tech: Green Bay Packers
Grade: A+. I graded him as a third-round prospect.
17. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: Detroit Lions
Grade: B-. Solid No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback.
16. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon: Philadelphia Eagles
Grade: B+. There's upside with this addition.
15. Nick Jean-Baptiste, NT, Baylor: Baltimore Ravens
Grade: A. Hard to find players with the size to play nose tackle.
14. Mike Brewster, C, Ohio State: Jacksonville Jaguars
Grade: A+. Adding a leader at center is always a solid move.
13. Brandon Lindsey, LB, Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Steelers
Grade: A+. He has a future as a pass-rush specialist.
12. Eric Page, WR, Toledo: Denver Broncos
Grade: B. Solid target with a future as a slot receiver.
11. Marcus Forston, DT, Miami (FL): New England Patriots
Grade: B. Has upside but a ton of injury issues.
10. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State: Cincinnati Bengals
Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff have experience dealing with players who have character concerns. They've taken chances on players like Adam Jones and Cedric Benson. Vontaze Burfict has the talent to make an impact in the NFL but needs to get his head on straight.
Drafting Burfict would have been a waste of a pick, but there's little risk in signing him as an undrafted free agent. He'll be given every opportunity to end a roster spot, but the question is, does he really want to play the game of football?
9. Phillip Thomas, S, Syracuse: Philadelphia Eagles
Phillip Thomas is a talented player who has a great opportunity to make it with the Philadelphia Eagles. He'll have to battle players like Colt Anderson and Tom Nelson for one of the backup safety spots. Thomas is much more talented than either of those players and should have the inside track.
The injury issues and struggles at safety for the Eagles could also ensure Thomas gets some playing time during his rookie season. Nate Allen has failed to remain on the field, and when he is in the game he's made some mental errors. The Eagles aren't afraid to give an undrafted rookie a chance to see the field.
8. Ryan Steed, CB, Furman: New York Jets
Ryan Steed, the cornerback out of Furman, will have a legitimate chance of making the New York Jets' active roster. He's a talented player who possesses the athleticism to succeed in the NFL. However, coming from a small school, he could use some time to develop.
Steed will be competing with Isaiah Trufant, Julian Posey and Royce Adams for a chance to play special teams and get some action in dime situations. Compared to his competition, Steed is a much better athlete with more upside. This is something that will help his case.
7. Markus Zusevics, OT, Iowa: New England Patriots
Markus Zusevics is a solid player who knows how to use proper technique. He has limited upside but could fit in as a swing backup. The New England Patriots have some depth along the interior of the offensive line, so it could be difficult for Zusevics to make the roster.
However, it's always a good idea to bring in young offensive linemen to compete for a roster spot. Worst-case scenario, Zusevics ends up on the practice squad and is used in case of an emergency. Iowa's coach Kirk Ferentz knows how to coach NFL-caliber linemen.
6. Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa State: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Leonard Johnson isn't a great athlete, but he plays the game with a lot of savvy and effort. He's a great fit for a team that will run zone coverage, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There's an excellent chance Johnson makes the Buccaneers' active roster.
Tampa Bay didn't add much help at cornerback during the draft. This is a concern because of the uncertainty surrounding Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber seemingly moving to safety. These situations would leave only Eric Wright, E.J. Biggers and Myron Lewis as options at cornerback.
5. Matt Reynolds, OT, BYU: Carolina Panthers
Matt Reynolds has some physical limitations but plays with a lot of effort. He projects as a right tackle in the NFL, a position where the Carolina Panthers need some help. Adding an offensive lineman with size and potential as an undrafted free agent is always a strong move.
Reynolds could conceivably end up as the No. 2 right tackle on the roster. The health struggles of Jeff Otah could even mean that Reynolds sees some playing time during his rookie season. This is a solid pickup for the Panthers and could end up having an immediate impact.
4. Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia: Washington Redskins
The upcoming year might be a bit of a bust for Chase Minnifield due to some injury concerns with his knees. However, once he's fully healthy, he has the potential to develop into a starting NFL cornerback. Prior to the injury reports, I had Minnifield graded as a late second-round prospect.
Minnifield could be seen as a long-term replacement for DeAngelo Hall on the Washington Redskins roster. Hall is a very overrated player who takes too many chances to really warrant his salary. Washington could keep him around this season and hope Minnifield is able to recover.
3. James Brown, OG, Troy: Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears didn't add an offensive lineman with any of their picks in the 2012 NFL draft. However, they may have found a steal in Troy's James Brown. There's an excellent chance that Brown works his way onto the roster.
He's a good athlete who needs more time and better coaching to develop. Brown played left tackle at Troy but projects better as a guard at the next level. He will receive some excellent coaching from Mike Tice, who's used to developing raw players.
This addition might end up paying major dividends in a few years.
2. Chris Polk, RB, Washington: Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles don't have a lot of depth at running back behind LeSean McCoy. They selected the troubled Bryce Brown in the seventh round, but he's a long shot to make the roster. Chris Polk is a more reliable player who brings some toughness to the group.
Polk does a good job picking up yards after contact and can gain yards between the tackles. He's a nice complement to the smaller backs currently on the Eagles roster. There's an excellent chance that he ends up as the No. 3 back behind McCoy and Dion Lewis.
1. Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee: Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers got a solid pickup when they added Tauren Poole as an undrafted free agent. He's a tough runner who always moves the pile forward. Poole also boasts some breakaway speed that allows him to break off long runs.
However, Poole would have been better off looking for a team that didn't have Carolina's depth at running back. This would have given him a better shot to make the roster. That said, the injury struggles of Jonathan Stewart could open the door for Poole at some point.