2020 NFL Draft: Which Undrafted Free Agents Can Make the Biggest Impact?

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2020

2020 NFL Draft: Which Undrafted Free Agents Can Make the Biggest Impact?

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    Thomas Graning/Associated Press

    The NFL draft doesn't really end with Mr. Irrelevant. While the final pick of Round 7 may be the last player to have his name called on television, that pick kicks off the undrafted-free-agent feeding frenzy.

    Every year, quality prospects go undrafted because there aren't enough draft slots to go around. Some of them become future stars like Adam Thielen and Phillip Lindsay. Others help NFL teams in more subtle ways, be it on special teams, the practice squad or as a rotational package player.

    Undrafted players can have an impact, and often an early one.

    Here, we'll examine eight undrafted free agents from the 2020 draft class who are most likely to have an immediate impact based on factors like past production, physical upside and the situation they're entering.

    Since opportunity is often the factor most relevant to a rookie's impact, players who have yet to sign with a team won't be considered here.      

Thaddeus Moss, TE, Washington Redskins

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    Speaking of opportunity, former LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss should have a huge one in ahead of him in 2020.

    The son of NFL Hall of Famer Randy Moss, Thaddeus is joining the Washington Redskins, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Washington has a significant need at the position after parting ways with Jordan Reed and losing Vernon Davis to retirement.

    Moss, who had 570 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 2019, was definitely a draftable prospect. According to Pelissero, however, combine medical checks revealed a foot fracture that required surgery. With Moss unable to schedule follow-up visits because of the league's travel ban, he was viewed as a medical risk.

    The 6'2", 250-pound Moss is a tremendous run-blocker and should catch on for that reason alone. With only the likes of Jeremy Sprinkle and Richard Rodgers ahead of him, Moss could see early playing time if he gets back to his pre-injury form.

James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Former Illinois State running back James Robinson doesn't have a prime opportunity in front of him yet, but he could soon. According to John Reid of the Florida Times-Union, the Jacksonville Jaguars were "actively listening" to trade offers for running back Leonard Fournette a week before the draft.

    After the draft, they signed Robinson, according to ESPN's Michael DiRocco.

    If Jacksonville does move Fournette, Robinson could be part of a committee approach to replacing him.

    At 5'9" and 219 pounds, Robinson has the size and the quickness (4.64-second 40) to play in the NFL. After rushing for 4,444 yards with the Redbirds, he also proved that he can handle a heavy workload.

    Robinson was one of the stars of this year's East-West Shrine Game, finishing with 136 total yards, 63 of which came on a rushing touchdown.

Salvon Ahmed, RB, San Francisco 49ers

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    The San Francisco 49ers traded running back Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins on Saturday for a fifth-round pick. While they still have the likes of Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon populating their running back room—although McKinnon has yet to see game action for the 49ers—head coach Kyle Shanahan has made it clear that he's willing to utilize a committee.

    The departure of Breida could thus open up an opportunity for former Washington back Salvon Ahmed, who is joining the team, according to The Athletic's Matt Barrows.

    At 5'11" and 197 pounds, Ahmed is a lighter, shiftier back, but that didn't stop him from carrying the ball 188 times for the Huskies this past season. Ahmed ran for 1,020 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

    San Francisco's backfield is deep, but Ahmed could carve out an early role with a strong camp. The departed Breida had 753 rushing and receiving yards in 13 regular-season games last year.

Quartney Davis, WR, Minnesota Vikings

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    Thomas Graning/Associated Press

    Former Texas A&M receiver Quartney Davis has agreed to join the Minnesota Vikings, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, where he could make an immediate impact as a third or fourth receiver.

    Minnesota lacked a reliable third receiver before trading Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills earlier this offseason. First-round pick Justin Jefferson will help replace Diggs, but he won't solve the team's need for depth behind himself and Adan Thielen.

    Davis, a 6'1", 201-pound slot man, has the potential to improve that depth.

    "Slot receiver with above-average size and adequate speed and separation quickness," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote in his scouting profile for Davis. "He has good feel for space when working against two-deep looks. Willing and able to take on targets in the middle of the field."

    Davis will have to compete with the likes of Bisi Johnson and rookie fifth-rounder K.J. Osborn, but on a team with no established No. 3, he'll have a good shot at earning playing time.

Javaris Davis, CB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Cornerback is no longer the massive need that it once was for the Kansas City Chiefs, who ranked eighth against the pass in 2019. However, they needed to reload at the position after Kendall Fuller departed in free agency.

    However, the Chiefs didn't draft a cornerback until the seventh round, where they took Tulane's Bopete Keyes.

    Former Auburn cornerback Javaris Davis can help Kansas City fill in depth at the cornerback position. He should also be a prime candidate for special teams after blazing a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the combine.

    "Obviously, they like my speed," Davis said of interested teams before the draft, according to Brandon Marcello of 247Sports. "There are a lot of fast receivers [in the NFL] that need to be guarded."

    Davis should be a perfect fit on the track team that is Kansas City.

Lawrence Cager, WR, New York Jets

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    The New York Jets may have gotten their new No. 1 receiver by taking Baylor's Denzel Mims in Round 2. However, that doesn't mean they should be finished adding targets for Sam Darnold.

    Guys like Quincy Enunwa, Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman are fine complementary receivers, but none of them project to become a reliable go-to target for Darnold. Former Georgia wideout Lawrence Cager—who is joining the Jets, according to WSB-TV's Zach Klein—could be.

    At 6'5" and 220 pounds, Cager is a big, physical target with an immense catch radius. He can be a major mismatch against even taller cornerbacks and a safety blanket for Darnold on the perimeter.

    "He is a reliable possession receiver with the size and toughness to work the middle of the field, but proved he could make impressive catches on all three levels," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote of Cager.

    If nothing else, Cager could be a premier red-zone target right out of the gate.

Bryce Huff, Edge, New York Jets

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    Much like Cager, former Memphis pass-rusher Bryce Huff is another undrafted free agent who's joining the Jets and can have an early impact. A bit on the shorter side to be a true edge-rusher (6'3" and 255 lbs), Huff was still able to rack up 16.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for a loss over the past two seasons.

    "Huff is an inconsistent edge-setter with tweener traits, but he rushes like an energetic ball of butcher knives, projecting as an NFL nickel rusher due to his first-step quickness and relentless nature," The Athletic's Dane Brugler wrote.

    Huff should get an early opportunity with the Jets, who amassed only 35 sacks in 2019.

    New York did use a third-round pick on Florida edge-defender Jabari Zuniga, but one player isn't going to instantly give New York an elite pass rush. As a situational edge-rusher, Huff can have the sort of impact for Gregg Williams' defense that Genard Avery did under Williams with the Cleveland Browns in 2018.

Benito Jones, DT, Miami Dolphins

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    With guys like Davon Godchaux, Christian Wilkins and rookie second-rounder Raekwon Davis on the roster, the Miami Dolphins should have a deep defensive line in 2020. However, it isn't so deep that undrafted steal Benito Jones can't have an early impact.

    Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller had Jones rated as a fifth-round pick. However, the Mississippi product didn't hear his name called during draft weekend and signed with the Dolphins afterward, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

    While Jones isn't likely to have a shot at a starting job, he could make his mark as a rotational interior defensive lineman. At 6'1" and 316 pounds, Jones has the potential to be a serious run-stuffer and block-eater, much like Danny Shelton has been with the New England Patriots for the past two seasons.

    Jones also has the potential to penetrate from the interior, as evidenced by his 5.5 sacks and 10.0 tackles for a loss in 2019. He should be able to make Miami's final 53 and provide value in his rookie season.