Every NFL Team's Best Undrafted Free-Agent Signing So Far
One of the most underrated parts of the NFL draft season is what happens immediately following the mega-event. The undrafted free-agent crop doesn’t have the pleasure of hearing its name called, but there are dozens of quality players teams fail to properly value.
The best undrafted free agents could have fallen out of the draft for many reasons. But once they’re in training camp, none of that should matter. The best players should make the final roster, which opens up the door for unsung heroes to step up throughout the season.
Some franchises excel developing undrafted free agents. It’s critical to match player strengths with scheme for this to happen, which is why the more successful teams seem to perform better. Evaluating and developing skills is what great staffs do.
We’ve combed through every undrafted free-agent signing to find the best one for every team. Every player selected has the talent to make an opening-day roster, and most fill immediate roster needs.
Best signing: Xavier Williams, NT
A 6’2”, 309-pound nose tackle from Northern Iowa, Xavier Williams has a great opportunity to make the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona did not address their defensive line depth until the fourth round of the draft, leaving one spot on the roster for another lineman.
Williams’ versatility in a 3-4 front should certainly help him. He has experience playing at the nose and also end position. His ability to spell starter Alameda Ta’amu and backup Corey Peters should endear him to the coaching staff.
Best signing: Kevin White, CB
The Atlanta Falcons had a strong crop of undrafted free-agent signings. Former TCU cornerback Kevin White looks to have the best chance to make the final 53-man roster, based on Atlanta’s depth at the position.
White had a good senior season at TCU, making him a surprise UDFA after the draft. He’s short, standing 5’9” and 183 pounds, but he was second-team All-Big 12. His talent transcends his size limitations.
Best signing: Cam Worthy, WR
The Baltimore Ravens added multiple offensive weapons for quarterback Joe Flacco to utilize in 2015. The receiving core was one of the NFL's worst prior to the draft, but three rookies are looking to change that. The most noteworthy undrafted free agent the Ravens signed was former ECU receiver Cam Worthy.
At 6’2”, 211 pounds, Worthy played just one season for ECU. He was very impressive, though, making circus catches seem routine. He had a great 18.5 yards-per-catch average in 2014, helping illustrate his potential as a downfield playmaker.
Best signing: Justin Hamilton, DT
The Buffalo Bills have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. One position with a backup opening is defensive tackle. Justin Hamilton is certainly talented enough to claim the Bills’ backup defensive tackle job.
Hamilton was a force at Louisiana-Lafayette. His 6’2”, 311-pound frame is NFL-ready, making him a handful for opponents. He had an impressive 28 tackles for loss and 13 sacks in his collegiate career.
Best signing: Garry Peters, CB
Although the Carolina Panthers had a somewhat weak class of undrafted free agents, former Clemson cornerback Garry Peters stands out. Peters has good size and press ability, which is something the Panthers can use in their secondary.
Peters did well in college as far as pass breakups, totaling 24. Other great players surrounded him, so he seemed to fly under the radar. If he gets a fair chance in Carolina, he could very well make the final roster.
Best signing: Bryce Callahan, CB
In hopes of rebuilding a porous defense, the Chicago Bears were aggressive this offseason while acquiring talent. Chicago has good starting talent in their secondary, but there is an opportunity for Rice’s Bryce Callahan to make the roster as a backup.
Callahan is short, but incredibly athletic. His speed (4.47 40-yard dash), vertical leaping ability (43”) and broad jump (11’), all point to elite lower-body explosion. He has the tools to become a stud as a nickel cornerback.
Best signing: Troy Hill, CB
Despite having one of the deepest cornerback positions in the league, the Cincinnati Bengals’ best undrafted free-agent signing was Troy Hill. For much of 2014, Hill was more impressive than lauded-teammate Ifo Ekpre-Olomu at Oregon.
He’s only 5’9”, but Hill has good ball skills and a relentless motor. He fights every play, which is necessary to be a good slot cornerback. His upside doesn’t scream superstar, but he can be a solid role player.
Best signing: Darrian Miller, OT
The Cleveland Browns had a wonderful draft, adding the best player available in nearly every round. This draft will be a building block for years to come. Now, they have few holes throughout the roster, leaving undrafted free agents with a major uphill climb to make the roster.
One player to watch is Kentucky’s Darrian Miller. Miller has positional versatility at 6’5” and 307 pounds. His movement ability could allow him to make the Browns’ roster as a tackle or guard.
Best signing: La’el Collins, OL
By far, the Cowboys hit the undrafted free-agent jackpot when they signed LSU lineman La’el Collins. Collins is such a special case, as the NFL took precaution to his off-field situation. Nevertheless, Collins counts here, so he is the easy choice.
Collins has first-round talent and should challenge to start at left guard for the Cowboys. He needs pass-protection work, but is a powerful run-blocker. His future as the potential Cowboys’ right tackle is also highly valuable.
Best signing: Jordan Taylor, Rice
Armed with a loaded roster, the Denver Broncos don’t have many open roster spots. One player who could force his way onto the final 53 is Rice wide receiver Jordan Taylor. At 6’5” and 210 pounds, Taylor brings more size than any of his competitors for the fifth receiver spot.
As a receiver, Taylor has three years of experience. He finished his career with 2,588 yards and 20 touchdowns. He must prove his value on special teams, but as a receiver, he is capable of making a difference for the Broncos in 2015 and beyond.
Best signing: Zach Zenner, RB
Here’s a fantasy football suggestion for your draft: grab Zach Zenner in the late rounds. Why? The new Detroit Lions’ running back had three consecutive 2,000-yard seasons for South Dakota State and has similar athleticism scores to Jay Ajayi.
In summary, he’s a great athlete who can flat-out run. Zenner has good playing speed and excellent power. In a backfield filled with Joique Bell and Theo Riddick, Zenner will make himself a standout.
Green Bay Packers
Best signing: James Vaughters, LB
One of the few standout names on the Green Bay Packers’ undrafted free agent signee list, Stanford linebacker James Vaughters is the best of the group. Vaughters doesn’t have elite size (6’2”, 258 lbs), but he is strong with a great motor.
As a depth player, he can make the Packers as a backup pass-rusher and special teamer. He is more than willing to fight through blockers and shows good finishing ability in space.
Best signing: Tony Washington, LB
The Houston Texans have had their fair share of issues creating pressure on the quarterback (sans J.J. Watt) in the past few seasons. 2014 first-round pick Jadeveon Clowney will certainly help if he’s healthy. But adding Tony Washington to the active roster can also help.
Washington isn’t much of a creator for teammates. Instead, he cleans up when others create pressure. This is valuable on third downs. For an undrafted free agent, third-down value is worth a roster spot.
Best signing: Zack Hodges, LB
The Indianapolis Colts mostly ignored their defensive needs in the draft, but they may have hit gold in undrafted free agency. Harvard outside linebacker Zack Hodges fits a 3-4 defense and also has the heart needed to make the team.
At the Senior Bowl, Hodges fought through injury to participate. His size, toughness and production all point to a solid bet to make the team as an undrafted rookie. Thus, he’s the Colts’ best signing.
Best signing: Nick Marshall, CB
Jacksonville didn’t add many potential impact playmakers through undrafted free agency, so its best signing goes to a solid developmental athlete. The former Auburn quarterback switched to cornerback prior to the 2015 draft, but he has the tools to develop into a solid player.
Marshall has great size and good speed for the position. His 6’1” frame and short-area burst are worthy developmental traits, if nothing else. Marshall has long-term value for the Jaguars’ front office.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best signing: Devante Bausby, CB
The Kansas City Chiefs now have one of the best cornerback positions in the NFL after the draft. Adding Marcus Peters and Steven Nelson will really boost this group. The cherry on top could be Pittsburg State’s Devante Bausby.
Bausby is a big, physical cornerback with huge upside. He ran a 4.42 (with wind) 40-yard dash, per NFL.com, at 6’2” and 179 pounds. He needs time to work on his technique and become more efficient. But he has potential to impact the team in 2016.
Best signing: Zach Vigil, LB
Although Miami passed over linebackers in the draft, the team added four undrafted free agents at linebacker. The best of the group is Utah State’s Zach Vigil. He has the best chance to make the opening-day roster.
Vigil has unmatched production and experience. He produced 389 tackles, 43.5 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks in three seasons. The Dolphins need a backup linebacker, and Vigil is ready for the role.
Best signing: Anthony Harris, S
The backup free safety position wasn’t a big enough concern for the Minnesota Vikings to address in the draft. With Anthony Harris available, the team was wise to snatch his services up. He can replace Andrew Sendejo as Harrison Smith’s backup.
Harris showed great ball skills throughout his career. He led the NCAA with eight interceptions in 2013 and had 11 over three seasons. He’s just 179 pounds, so he needs time to bulk up, but he can play on Sundays.
New England Patriots
Best signing: Chris Harper, WR
Outside of Julian Edelman, the New England Patriots have struggled to find legitimate receivers for quarterback Tom Brady. That didn’t stunt their Super Bowl efforts in 2014, but it also shouldn’t stop the team from upgrading for 2015.
Slot extraordinaire Chris Harper of Cal can immediately challenge for a roster spot. He can serve as a core special teamer and take Danny Amendola’s roster position in 2015.
New Orleans Saints
Best signing: Bobby Richardson, DE
The New Orleans Saints need as much help on defense as possible. Their 2014 collapse back into the bottom half of the league's defensive ranks must change immediately.
The 3-4 defensive end Bobby Richardson can provide much-needed depth in 2015 and be a potential starter in the future. He’s a solid athlete with excellent length. The fact he went undrafted is somewhat baffling, but the Saints will benefit.
New York Giants
Best signing: Cole Farrand, LB
The New York Giants tend to draft highly productive players with strong character. It’s a formula that has worked years for their front office. Their undrafted free-agent addition of Cole Farrand continued that trend.
Farrand had three solid seasons for Maryland as a linebacker, totaling 283 tackles. He isn’t the most athletic player, but he has good size at 6’3” and 245 pounds. He relies on instincts to be effective inside the tackle box and can help the Giants’ special teams.
New York Jets
Best signing: Taiwan Jones, LB
Roster mirroring is nothing new, and the New York Jets are trying to find a similar player to linebacker David Harris in Taiwan Jones. Jones, once a weak-side linebacker, showed coverage skills before adding weight to move inside for Michigan State.
At his 245-pound playing weight, Jones is more of a downhill thumper. His two-down value is there in the run game, but he must become more fluid in coverage if he’s going to stay at that weight. He can make the Jets’ roster if he can do so.
Best signing: Tevin McDonald, S
The Oakland Raiders were able to bring in a talented haul of undrafted free agents. They’re very attractive for rookies to sign with, as the team is still building their depth on both sides of the ball. There are opportunities abound to make the roster.
One of the weakest parts of the Raiders roster is the secondary. Tevin McDonald is a versatile safety with nickel cornerback experience. His talent in coverage makes him a good candidate to make the final cut.
Best signing: Devante Davis, WR
The Philadelphia Eagles already have a loaded receiving core, but that doesn’t diminish the addition of Devante Davis. Davis’ film was highly impressive, as he often wins at the catch point with strong hands and great timing. Add in his 6’3”, 220-pound frame and this is an NFL-caliber player.
Davis faces a tough challenge to make the Eagles, but if he’s given the chance to play in preseason, he will impress someone. His athleticism isn’t great, but he is fast, big and efficient as a receiver.
Best signing: Miles Dieffenbach, OG
The Pittsburgh Steelers added multiple quality offensive linemen after the draft, but Miles Dieffenbach is the best of the bunch. The Penn State alum will fit perfectly into the Steelers’ power scheme and give a good pass-blocking presence to the offense.
Dieffenbach tore his ACL prior to the 2014 season and missed most of the year. He returned in good form and should continue to improve as time passes. He should compete to be a top backup in 2015.
San Diego Chargers
Best signing: Titus Davis, WR
With the bottom of the wide receiver depth chart baron in San Diego, Titus Davis could very well make the final 53-man roster. The Central Michigan receiver has good size at 6’1” and 196 pounds, and he also has a refined skill set.
Davis produced 3,700 yards and 37 touchdowns in four seasons at Central Michigan. He’s ready to play right now, and quarterback Philip Rivers can maximize his talent.
San Francisco 49ers
Best signing: Marcus Rush, LB
It’s been a busy offseason filled with changes for the San Francisco 49ers. Major losses at linebacker have opened up opportunities for a player such as Marcus Rush to make the final cut.
Rush was a run-stuffing defensive end for Michigan State, but he has a ton of untapped potential. His athleticism numbers were fantastic as a pass-rush edge player. He just needs the coaching to maximize his talents.
Best signing: Kasen Williams, WR
The Seattle Seahawks quickly snatched hometown hero Kasen Williams up when he was released by the Cincinnati Bengals. Williams, a Washington alum, was a big-time receiver prospect entering 2014 but struggled as he returned from a foot injury.
If Williams can return to form, the Seahawks will have two very talented rookies to build with. He and Tyler Lockett can help upgrade an average receiving core.
St. Louis Rams
Best signing: Louis Trinca-Pasat, DT
As a defensive lineman, there might not be a more attractive place to play than with the St. Louis Rams. Surrounded by Aaron Donald, Nick Fairley, Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn and Chris Long, the Rams create a ton of pass-rush pressure.
The defensive tackle spot needs a backup, though. Iowa’s Louis Trinca-Pasat fits well with this group, as he is very quick and shifty as a pass-rusher. He will often be single-blocked, which will open up stunt opportunities. He thrived in such situations as a senior at Iowa.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Best signing: Ryan Delaire, DE
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers must create more pressure against quarterbacks in 2015 than they did in 2014. The defense couldn’t make enough impact plays to help the Bucs offense, which should improve with the addition of quarterback Jameis Winston.
One player who can help the Buccaneers is Towson defensive end Ryan Delaire. At 6’4”, 254 pounds, Delaire was a nightmare to defend against in college. He produced an incredible 22.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss in two seasons. His pass-rush prowess should be given every chance to shine in Tampa Bay.
Best signing: Quinton Spain, OG
Despite adding two offensive linemen in the draft, the Tennessee Titans still have some depth issues in the trenches. Undrafted free agent Quinton Spain can help alleviate those concerns and back up Chance Warmack at right guard.
Spain needs technique refinement in his upper and lower body. He is naturally strong, which helped him excel at West Virginia, but the NFL will require more precision. The Titans don’t need him to start right away, which buys him developmental time.
Best signing: Terrance Plummer, LB
The Washington Redskins’ inside linebacker position is one of the weakest positional groups in all of football. The lack of impact talent there is startling, but it's also exciting for an undrafted free-agent linebacker like Terrance Plummer.
Plummer is a limited athlete, but he has the talent to make an impact for the Redskins defense. He had 334 tackles in four seasons at UCF, nearly posting three consecutive 100-tackle campaigns. He is a two-down monster who attacks the line of scrimmage well.
All stats used are from Sports-Reference.com.
Ian Wharton is an NFL Draft Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.