Report Card Grades for Arizona Cardinals' Undrafted Free-Agent Signings
To wrap up the 2014 NFL draft, the Arizona Cardinals signed 15 undrafted free agents, according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. Most will end up on the chopping block by the time the regular season kicks off on Monday Night Football against the San Diego Chargers, but a select few could sneak their way onto the 53-man roster.
Some key positions on the roster might have to implode for that to happen. Last season, two undrafted free agents earned a roster spot for Week 1—safety Tony Jefferson and wide receiver Jaron Brown—both of whom played small but important roles as rookies.
Which rookies could emulate Jefferson and Brown this season? Let’s grade the signings and find out.
Zach Bauman, RB, Northern Arizona
From Chandler Hamilton High School to NAU to the Cardinals, running back Zach Bauman’s football life has come full circle. Will he make the roster in September? Probably not.
But you can see the potential when watching highlight reels of his college days. He’s undersized at just 5’7” and 194 pounds (ever hear of LaRod Stephens-Howling?), but he is shifty and crafty when carrying the ball—especially when he gets to the edge.
Jonathan Brown, OLB, Illinois
A productive leader while at Illinois, Jonathan Brown is a long shot to make the roster. (As stated in previous articles, get used to the term “camp body.”)
He is short for a linebacker at just 6’0”, but he has a solid frame with room to add bulk. Solid technique and leadership could help Brown earn a deeper look on the practice squad.
Glenn Carson, ILB, Penn State
He’s athletic and strong as an ox, but Glenn Carson likely went undrafted because of his football instincts—or lack thereof. Watching film of him, you see him get to the line of scrimmage quickly, but he’s sometimes unsure of what he’s seeing and hesitates, giving a back time to get around him.
That’s fixable, so watch for him to make the practice squad.
Chandler Catanzaro, K, Clemson
Kicker Jay Feely is on a one-year deal with no signing bonus, so hypothetically he could get beaten out by a rookie kicker. But Chandler Catanzaro is probably not that rookie kicker.
He struggled with accuracy at Clemson, connecting on just 81.7 percent of field goals in four seasons. He did boot the game-winning 37-yard field goal as time expired to beat LSU in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl, so that’s something. He’s most likely a camp body.
Tim Cornett, RB, UNLV
Decently built, productive and durable, Tim Cornett broke many school records in his time at UNLV. The second of two running backs that the Cardinals signed via undrafted free agency, he won’t make the roster based on need.
If he does, it will be because he outworked one of the depth-chart bottom-feeders.
Bruce Gaston, DT, Purdue
Bruce Gaston was a four-year starter at Purdue. He spent three of those years as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme, but the Boilermakers switched to the 3-4 last season and moved him out to 5-technique defensive end.
This is an intriguing signing, because despite his lack of pass-rushing skills, he is solid against the run and does not take many plays off. He could end up on the practice squad while he gets stronger and eventually work his way onto the 53-man roster.
Kelvin Palmer, OT, Baylor
He was a one-year starter at Baylor, but Kelvin Palmer played both right and left tackle for the Bears—versatility is a big reason why he’s with the Cardinals right now. General manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians love someone who can play multiple positions, so he’ll fit right in with many of the offensive linemen on the team.
He could be only a camp body for now, but he has solid upside. Don’t put it past him to impress enough to slip onto the back end of the roster.
Kelsey Pope, WR, Samford
Another camp body, Kelsey Pope was only mildly productive at Samford. He had 250 receptions for 2,385 yards (9.5 yards per catch) and 13 touchdowns in four years. He also rushed the ball 70 times for 285 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns.
He will help the Cardinals get through camp with enough receivers to give everyone breaks every now and then, but don’t expect him to make the roster or even the practice squad. He’s not as fast as you’d like to see from a 6’0” tall, 198-pound receiver. He ran a 4.73 40-yard dash at his pro day.
Justin Renfrow, DT, Miami
A camp body who will struggle even to make the practice squad, Justin Renfrow is big (6’4”, 305 lbs) and athletic (33-inch vertical). He started only four of his 35 games at Miami, which should be an indicator of his chances as a pro.
Brandon Sermons, DB, UCLA
Brandon Sermons is an undersized but speedy defensive back. He played some cornerback and some safety at UCLA, so his versatility makes him an attractive prospect.
Like Renfrow, Sermons was a part-time player in college. But he could eke out a spot on the practice squad based on his versatility and athleticism.
Kevin Smith, WR, Washington
A 4.54-second 40-yard dash is not great, and Kevin Smith's production wasn’t either. He had 72 receptions for 1,059 yards (14.7 yards per carry) and four touchdowns at Washington.
He’s a slot receiver on a team full of them, so his chances at making even the practice squad are slim. He’ll have an uphill battle during camp.
Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama
One of two gems of Arizona’s undrafted free-agent class, former Alabama guard Anthony Steen was considered by CBSSports.com to be among the best prospects leaving Tuscaloosa for the draft. At 6'3", he is a bit short compared to many NFL offensive guards, but that could mean his best position at the next level may be center.
He’s played it before, and with Lyle Sendlein rounding out his career in the near future (presumably, anyway), it could be time to find his replacement. Is that Steen? Is he best-suited to play right guard? Regardless, he could make the 53-man roster out of camp.
Corey Washington, WR, Newberry
Big, athletic and underrated are words to describe wide receiver Corey Washington. You remember how good Patrick Peterson was at returning punts as a rookie, right? None of his returns were as good as the one Washington had in November 2013.
He has potential, and at nearly 6’4” and 214 pounds, he could develop into a solid option on Sundays. He’s a name to watch this summer.
Todd Washington, CB, Southeastern Louisiana
Here’s the second gem of Arizona’s undrafted free-agent class. Cornerback Todd Washington missed six games last season with a toe injury, and despite not being fully healed, 21 teams showed up to watch him work out at his pro day, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com.
He did not disappoint, running a 4.59 40 and posting a 35.5-inch vertical despite the toe. He’s another name to watch at camp. Like Steen, he could end up on the back end of the 53-man roster in September. At the very least, he’s a lock for the practice squad.
Kadeem Williams, OL, Albany State
At 6’7” and 330 pounds, Kadeem Williams is versatile. He can play both tackle and guard, which will help his cause this summer. He dominated small-school defensive linemen at Albany State, so it will be interesting to see him work against guys who are closer to his size.
He’s not as strong as you’d like, putting up only 17 bench-press reps at his pro day. Strength and a lack of athleticism are reasons he went undrafted, and those reasons are good enough to see him move permanently to guard. He’s a practice squad candidate with potential to grow into a backup on Sundays.