Every year several college juniors and seniors leave school with the desire to be drafted and play in the NFL. After promising college careers, several play in college all-star games and are even invited to the NFL draft combine.
Some of these guys still go undrafted, even with immense talent. There are no guarantees that if you’re invited to the NFL combine or play at a FBS school you will be drafted.
The Oakland Raiders had several needs going into free agency that the draft didn't completely address. Contrary to popular belief, some of these needs were addressed with the team signing several undrafted players.
Some have the belief that when an undrafted free agent is brought in he is just there as training camp competition and has no chance of making the roster. That belief will be put to the challenge during Oakland's training camp.
The Raiders' success will depend heavily on Offensive Line coach Tom Cable, who did a phenomenal job with the offensive line last year. The 2008 season will be the players' second year in his effective zone blocking system.
The Raiders, in need of offensive line help, signed two undrafted guys that could stick.
Guard, Arizona State, 6’ 4” 303 lbs. 40-time: 5.22
He was the starting Left Tackle for the Sun Devils. Rodd is a solid lineman and is very versatile. He can play either the guard or tackle position.
He’s a very smart player and student. Rodd was given Pac-10 All Academic honors all four years and is a two time Second Team Pac-10 All Academic Football player. He was also on the 2007 preseason Lombardi award watch list.
He is a productive player and has started in every game in his career. He has a very good understanding of the zone blocking system. As a guard in the NFL he projects due to his lack of explosiveness and not being physically dominating.
Rodd is a guy who will fight for a roster spot at four positions. His versatility makes him a great fit for the Oakland Raiders; he was signed to a three-year deal.
Defensive End, Arizona State, 6’ 5” 280 lbs.
He was one of the top DE recruits in the nation in 2003 and chose the University of Florida. He then transferred to Arizona State University.
Morant has great size, speed, and natural ability. He doubled as a Defensive Tackle; he is quick off the ball and has very long arms, he used his height and reach to swat down passes in the rookie mini-camp. Has the size and versatility to play inside and outside he will remind some of the impact Tommy Kelly had as an undrafted free agent.
Morant earned a roster spot during mini-camp and is looking forward to Training Camp.
Wide Receiver, Washington, 6’ 4” 231 lbs. 40-time: 4.42
This is a guy who has been compared to Shannon Sharpe due to his ideal role as an H-back or TE. He could also be very effective as a WR in the slot due to his size, causing mismatches against corners and safeties. He is a playmaker and was signed for his big play potential catching the ball.
These three guys aren’t guaranteed anything more than the opportunity to prove their worth and that they belong. All three of these guys played in the Pac 10 conference. They’ve been productive players and starters for their FBS level (formerly Division I) teams.
Brandon Rodd has exhibited versatility, elite intangibles, and all the tools necessary to be effective in the zone blocking system. He is the type of lineman that has the talent and skills Coach Cable is looking for in order to develop and mold a solid NFL lineman.
Tranell Morant possesses good size and has also exhibited the versatility and elite intangibles that could make him a force against the run and pass for the defense.
Marcel Reece has the size and speed to create problems for a defense in the slot, and if he can develop very well could turn into a very productive player.
All three of the undrafted free agents fill a need for the Raiders and will compete for a roster spot. The recently departed LT Barry Sims was once an undrafted free agent out of Utah that made the team. He also fought off several would-be drafted replacements in Matt Stinchcomb, Mo Collins, and Robert Gallery.
It is too early to make any predictions about these guys and their immediate future, but when your draft class consists of five players you need to find undrafted talent that can provide competition and help improve your team.
Rodd, Morant, and Reece all have the opportunity to do that in training camp.