Grading Every NFL Team's 2021 Undrafted Free-Agent Haul
Just like the NFL draft, the market for this year's wave of undrafted free-agent signings didn't operate as usual.
Typically, once the seventh round ends, each team scrambles to sign prospects who either graded as draftable or as priority free agents. A free-for-all ensues, with organizations jockeying to acquire players who have a chance to make their squads.
While the logistics of the process remained the same, the end result turned out to be different.
Significantly fewer undrafted free agents were signed from this year's class. Last year saw roughly 200 more UDFAs join NFL squads. Obviously, the number can fluctuate based on guys who ultimately didn't agree to terms, just received tryouts or didn't last long with their teams.
Why did this happen? Questions about the 2021 class' depth and quality likely came into play. Less information throughout the predraft process due to pandemic restrictions probably hurt the status of some. Also, the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to every athlete who wanted to return after a lost campaign.
The following undrafted free-agent classes aren't the usual size. Each subsequent grade depends on quality over quantity more than ever.
Signings: TE Cary Angeline, North Carolina State (pictured); TE Bruno Labelle, Cincinnati; DT Cameron Murray, Oklahoma State; CB Lorenzo Burns, Arizona
The tight end position doesn't provide a great deal in the Arizona Cardinals' offensive scheme, so it isn't a priority in free agency or the draft.
However, Dan Arnold did finish third on the team last season with 438 receiving yards. He left in free agency to sign with the Carolina Panthers.
Maxx Williams remains on the roster, but he's primarily a blocker. As such, the Cardinals brought in a pair of undrafted free agents at the position with upside.
At 6'6" and 250 pounds, North Carolina State's Cary Angeline is a massive tight end with instant red-zone capabilities. He caught 11 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Cincinnati's Bruno Labelle is more of a special teams contributor than anything else, though he improved each year as a receiver in the Bearcats offense.
Signings: QB Feleipe Franks, Arkansas (pictured); RB Javian Hawkins, Louisville; RB Caleb Huntley, Ball State; WR Austin Trammell, Rice; WR Antonio Nunn, Buffalo; TE John Raine, Northwestern; OT Kion Smith, Fayetteville State; OT Jack Batho IV, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology; OL Joe Sculthorpe, North Carolina State; OL Bryce Hargrove, Pittsburgh; G Ryan Neuzil, Appalachian State; DT Zac Dawe, BYU; Edge Eli Howard, Texas Tech; Edge Alani Pututau, Adams State; Edge Kobe Jones, Mississippi State; LB Erroll Thompson, Mississippi State; CB JR Pace, Northwestern; S Marcus Murphy, Mississippi State; S Dwayne Johnson Jr., San Diego State
The Atlanta Falcons were easily the most active team once Mr. Irrelevant (Grant Stuard) was selected the 259th overall pick of the 2021 NFL draft. New general manager Terry Fontenot attacked three positions of need, starting with running back.
The Falcons released running back Ito Smith earlier this offseason, and veteran Mike Davis is now the projected lead back. Louisville's Javian Hawkins is a dynamic runner, though he has a slight build (5'8", 183 lbs). He still has the potential to be an explosive option in head coach Arthur Smith's outside zone scheme. Ball State's Caleb Huntley is a much bigger back at 5'10", 229 pounds and can serve as a complementary piece.
Fontenot also concentrated on the trenches. The unit lacked quality depth on the offensive side of the ball. In the draft, Atlanta chose Michigan right tackle Jalen Mayfield and Stanford center Drew Dalman. It then signed five more blockers to fill out the roster and possibly compete for a spot.
Edge-rusher remains a problem area, though. Maybe Texas Tech's Eli Howard, Mississippi State's Kobe Jones or Adams State's Alani Pututau can help Notre Dame's Adetokunbo Ogundeji, whom the Falcons selected in the fifth round.
Also, Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks gives Atlanta a high-end athlete to develop behind Matt Ryan and AJ McCarron.
Signings: RB Nate McCrary, Saginaw Valley State; WR Donte Sylencieux, Graceland; TE Tony Poljan, Virginia; OT Adrian Ealy, Oklahoma; OT Foster Sarell, Stanford; G Sam Cooper, Merrimack; DT Xavier Kelly, Arkansas; LB Blake Gallagher, Northwestern; S Ar'Darius Washington, TCU (pictured)
The Baltimore Ravens are consistent. The franchise is counted among the best at identifying talent for its scheme and developing young players. Each move the team makes reinforces this belief, and it extends into the evaluation of undrafted free agents.
Safety Ar'Darius Washington should have been drafted. His size is the only thing holding him back. Even then, his 5'8", 178-pound frame didn't prevent him from excelling at the collegiate level. In fact, he was the nation's second-highest-graded safety in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Ravens also needed help in the trenches. They're rebuilding portions of their offensive front and signed veteran tackle Alejandro Villanueva in free agency and drafted Georgia's Ben Cleveland in the third round.
Oklahoma's Adrian Ealy and Stanford's Foster Sarell are intriguing additions. Ealy started 23 straight games and has experience at both right and left tackle, while Sarell entered the Cardinal program as a 5-star recruit.
Signings: WR Tre Walker, San Jose State; TE Quintin Morris, Bowling Green; OT Syrus Tuitele, Fresno State; CB Olaijah Griffin, USC (pictured); CB Nick McCloud, Notre Dame; S Tariq Thompson, San Diego State
Three years ago, the Buffalo Bills signed Levi Wallace as an undrafted free agent. Wallace, who was a walk-on at Alabama and posted a solid collegiate career, but his slight frame (6'0", 179 lbs) was a concern for most teams. His lack of bulk hasn't been a major issue at the professional level, and he's started 35 games over the last three seasons.
Despite the cornerback's contributions, he re-signed on a one-year, $1.8 million deal this offseason. Clearly, the spot opposite Tre'Davious White is wide-open for anyone to take.
Similar concerns followed USC's Olaijah Griffin, which caused the 6'0", 175-pound defensive back to go undrafted. He was one of the best outside corners in this year's class. According to Pro Football Focus, the two-year starter finished second behind 2021 eighth overall pick Jaycee Horn, with an average of 25.4 coverage snaps per reception allowed, according to Pro Football Focus' Anthony Treash.
San Diego State's Tariq Thompson provides more flexibility in the secondary with slot capabilities. Safety is a sneaky need area in Buffalo since Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer will both be 31 going into the 2022 campaign, and the Bills can save more than $10 million by moving on from them after this year.
Signings: RB Spencer Brown, UAB; FB Mason Stokke, Wisconsin; G David Moore, Grambling (pictured); LB Paddy Fisher, Northwestern; P Oscar Draguicevich, Washington State
The Carolina Panthers surprised many with their approach to building their offensive front.
New general manager Scott Fitterer did the smart thing by placing the franchise tag on right tackle Taylor Moton. From there, the moves were questionable. The organization signed Cameron Erving and Pat Elflein at the onset of free agency. The team then waited until the third round to address left tackle, though BYU's Brady Christensen has a chance to win the job.
"We're going to have a really strong offensive line," Fitterer said during an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
The Panthers still need a lot of help.
Undrafted guard David Moore is a powerhouse along the interior and has extremely strong hands. Working alongside the massive Deonte Brown (6'3", 344 lbs), whom the Panthers drafted in the sixth round, Moore could make significant contributions on a minimal investment.
On the other side of the ball, Northwestern's Paddy Fisher had been one of the most productive and successful linebackers in college football. He accumulated 401 total tackles over his four seasons. He's smart, instinctive and comfortable in coverage. The two-time first-team All-Big Ten honoree may not be the best athlete, but he's capable of claiming a roster spot.
Signings: RB C.J. Marable, Coastal Carolina; WR Khalil McClain, Troy; TE Scooter Harrington, Stanford; OT Gunnar Vogel, Northwestern; G Dareuan Parker, Mississippi State; C Gage Cervenka, Clemson; DT Thomas Schaffer, Stanford; DT Sam Kamara, Stony Brook; DT Daniel Archibong, Temple; Edge Charles Snowden, Virginia (pictured); LB Caleb Johnson, Houston Baptist; CB Dionte Ruffin, Western Kentucky
The Chicago Bears crushed this year's draft process. Coming away with quarterback Justin Fields is enough reason to praise the Bears' approach. General manager Ryan Pace then continued to make solid decisions in regard to the undrafted free-agent class.
Charles Snowden is an ideal fit for the Bears' defensive scheme. The 6'6", 243-pound edge defender brings his length and athleticism to the field, though he'll continue to develop his functional strength at the point of attack. He should slide in seamlessly behind Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn.
One of the smartest things Pace did following the selection of Fields was select back-to-back offensive linemen in Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom. Still, the front needed more help.
Mississippi State's Dareuan Parker is a mountainous guard (6'5", 331 lbs), who didn't allow a single sack last season despite the most overall pass-blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus. Clemson's Gage Cervenka brings versatility at center and guard after helping to lead one of college football's premier programs. And Gunnar Vogel developed into a two-year starter at Northwestern.
Signings: QB Collin Hill, South Carolina; RB Pooka Williams Jr., Kansas (pictured); WR Riley Lees, Northwestern; TE Pro Wells, TCU; Edge Darius Hodge, Marshall; CB Antonio Phillips, Ball State; P Drue Chrisman
The Cincinnati Bengals cut veteran running back Giovani Bernard at the start of April, but he provided a nice change of pace to Joe Mixon and was a reliable third-down option. The Bengals' running back depth is now suspect with Samaje Perine, Chris Evans and Trayveon Williams vying for roster spots.
Kansas' Pooka Williams Jr., a potentially dynamic weapon, may give the team what it needs at the position.
The 5'9½", 175-pound back is a runner-receiver hybrid with 4.36-second 40-yard-dash speed, according to Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline. Williams only played in four games in 2020 because he chose to opt-out for the rest of the campaign, but he ran for 2,186 yards and caught 60 passes for 503 yards in his first two seasons.
The running back also worked out as a receiver and returner during Kansas' pro day.
The Bengals' undrafted free-agent class isn't particularly deep, but Williams has a chance to make a positive impression.
Signings: RB Tre Harbison III, Charlotte; DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State (pictured); Edge Romeo McKnight, Charlotte; CB Kiondre Thomas, Kansas State; CB Emmanuel Rugamba, Miami (Ohio)
The Cleveland Browns have no problem splurging a little once the NFL draft comes to a close.
Last year, the organization signed undrafted cornerback A.J. Green to a deal with $145,000 in guarantees. Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson became this year's primary target. Wilson signed an even bigger deal that included $192,000 in guaranteed money, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.
Wilson is essentially an extra draft selection. The All-ACC performer entered last season as a projected first-round pick only to see his stock plummet due to uninspiring play and a leg injury. But he graded among college football's best defensive tackles in 2019 and has a legitimate shot to make the roster along a somewhat suspect defensive interior.
Aside from Wilson, the Browns shouldn't expect much from the rest of their undrafted free-agent class.
Signings: RB JaQuan Hardy, Tiffin; RB Brenden Knox, Marshall; WR T.J. Vasher, Texas Tech; WR Brandon Smith, Iowa; WR Osirus Mitchell, Mississippi State; WR Brennan Eagles, Texas; TE Nick Eubanks, Michigan (pictured); TE Nick Ralston, Louisiana; TE Artayvious Lynn, TCU; G Braylon Jones, Houston; DT Austin Faoliu, Oregon; LB Anthony Hines III, Texas A&M; LB Tyler Coyle, Purdue
Interestingly, the Dallas Cowboys signed four undrafted wide receivers despite being loaded at the position. Clearly, the team wanted its corps to get bigger.
Dallas chose the 6'4", 222-pound Simi Fehoko in the fifth round. Among the recent signees, Texas Tech's T.J. Vasher is 6'6" and 203 pounds. Mississippi State's Osirus Mitchell is another towering target at 6'5" and 206 pounds. Brennan Eagles is a 6'4", 225-pound option. Iowa State's Brandon Smith is the smallest of the bunch at 6'1", 218 pounds.
Not all of these receivers will make the roster. In fact, none of them may. But their inclusion now shows which direction the Cowboys are leaning to build around their star receivers.
Tight end received plenty of competition as well. Blake Jarwin is coming off a torn ACL, and the position lacked quality depth anyhow. Of the three who signed, Michigan's Nick Eubanks brings the most potential as an athlete and receiver.
Signings: FB Adam Prentice, South Carolina; WR Branden Mack, Temple; WR Warren Jackson, Colorado State; WR DeVontres Dukes, South Florida; TE Shaun Beyer, Iowa; OT Drew Himmelman, Illinois State; G Nolan Laufenberg, Air Force; Edge Andre Mintze, Vanderbilt (pictured); LB Curtis Robinson, Stanford; LB David Curry, Georgia Tech; CB Mac McCain III, North Carolina A&T
Seven years ago, the Denver Broncos signed an unheralded and undrafted free-agent edge-rusher in Shaquil Barrett. He made the roster and slowly worked his way into the defensive rotation. He exploded onto the scene after signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent in 2019.
Barrett's career arc sets an example for other edge-rushers joining the Broncos. Vanderbilt's Andre Mintze doesn't bring the same level of collegiate production as Barrett once did, but an opportunity exists behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Mintze can compete with seventh-round pick Jonathon Cooper for a roster spot.
Furthermore, Miller is a free agent after the upcoming season, which means a year on the bench for these young edge defenders could result in much more down the road.
Surprisingly, the Broncos didn't address inside linebacker via the draft. Like Miller, A.J. Johnson and Josey Jewell are in the final years of their deals. Stanford's Curtis Robinson and Georgia Tech's David Curry could go on to become significant contributors. Curry in particular has a nose for the football with 181 total tackles over his last two seasons.
Signings: RB Dedrick Mills, Nebraska; RB Rakeem Boyd, Arkansas; WR Sage Surratt, Wake Forest (pictured); WR Javon McKinley, Notre Dame; WR Jonathan Adams Jr., Arkansas State; TE Brock Wright, Notre Dame; TE Jake Hausmann, Ohio State; OG Tommy Kraemer, Notre Dame; C Drake Jackson, Kentucky; LB Tavante Beckett, Marshall; DB D'Angelo Amos, Virginia; CB Jerry Jacobs, Arkansas; CB A.J. Parker, Kansas State
The Detroit Lions could very well be the NFL's worst team next season. Even if they aren't, the organization is clearly in a rebuilding phase led by new general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell.
"There's this whole thing, act like you've been there before," Campbell told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer. "Well, guess what? We haven't been there before. This is our first time together, man."
Once a player goes undrafted, the next step is to identify which lineups have potential openings to maximize his chances of making an active roster. Detroit's undrafted free-agent haul shows the effect of this approach.
Amazingly, Detroit didn't draft a wide receiver until the fourth round despite having the league's worst position group. Amon-Ra St. Brown will be joined by fellow rookies Sage Surratt, Javon McKinley and Jonathan Adams Jr.
Surratt once carried early-round grades, but his decision to opt out of the 2020 campaign, his age (23) and poor testing numbers turned him into an undraftable option even though he played extremely well as a sophomore. Like Surratt, McKinley and Adams performed well their final seasons on campus but didn't test well. They can help despite those issues.
Center Drake Jackson was the second-most valuable offensive lineman in college football last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Jackson should immediately take over as Frank Ragnow's primary backup.
Green Bay Packers
Signings: WR Bailey Gaither, San Jose State; OT Coy Cronk, Iowa; OT Jacob Capra, San Diego State; OG Jon Dietzen, Wisconsin; DT Carlo Kemp, Michigan; DT Jack Heflin, Iowa; S Christian Uphoff, Illinois State (pictured)
The Green Bay Packers played the numbers game with their undrafted free-agent class. Their front office understood how this year's crop would look, as one scout told Packer Central's Bill Huber:
"It was a very, very competitive year in terms of the amount of money that was spent just because so many teams needed to get numbers. Now, there are some good ones. Obviously, there are some good undrafted players, but the overall numbers were down so much with all the guys going back with COVID. That created a whole different set of obstacles."
The Packers continued to concentrate on the trenches even after drafting four linemen.
It's always smart to mine line talent from the Iowa Hawkeyes program. Coy Cronk started two games at right tackle after transferring from Indiana, but an injury derailed his final season on campus. Defensive tackle Jack Heflin is a sound prospect who became a four-year starter after beginning his career at Northern Illinois then transferring to Iowa.
Michigan defensive lineman Carlo Kemp is another example of a seasoned lineman from the Big Ten. Kemp can play up and down the line as a versatile piece of the puzzle.
Illinois State safety Christian Uphoff brings the most intriguing skill set as an oversized defender who can play all over the field or work as a sub-package linebacker. The 6'2", 209-pound defensive back didn't test as well as expected, but he did put together a strong effort during Senior Bowl week.
Signings: WR Damon Hazelton, Missouri; WR Marlon Williams, UCF; OT Carson Green, Texas A&M (pictured); C Ryan McCollum, Texas A&M
New Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio almost completely remade the team's roster this offseason. After signing 27 new free agents and trading for a handful of other veterans, they didn't need another wave of rookie talent.
The Texans didn't have many draft assets due to Bill O'Brien's buffoonery as their previous general manager. But the new front office could have been aggressive once the undrafted market opened after choosing only five prospects.
Instead, Caserio became selective. He did stay instate with a pair of quality offensive line signings, though.
Texas A&M's Carson Green can immediately help Houston's offensive line depth at four of the five positions, though he may be best suited at guard. Fellow former Aggie Ryan McCollum started only one season at center, but his teammates still named him a captain for five games.
UCF's Marlon Williams isn't the biggest or fastest receiver, yet he still found ways to produce in each of his four seasons with the Knights. Williams also brings some experience as a kick and punt returner.
Like Williams, Missouri's Damon Hazelton doesn't present an impressive athletic profile. Instead, these two signings feel like steps toward eventually moving past the Texans' current receivers—Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb—a year from now.
Signings: RB Deon Jackson, Duke (pictured); WR Tyler Vaughns, USC; WR Tarik Black, Texas; LB Anthony Butler, Liberty; LB Isaiah Kaufusi, BYU
The Indianapolis Colts didn't feel the need to splurge on undrafted free agents after yet another solid draft class. They could have placed more of a priority on left tackle after missing out on the position, but they circled back and signed Eric Fisher to a one-year, $9.4 million deal Monday, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
With left tackle basically settled, the Colts didn't need to do much other than sign a few players they liked for depth. Duke running back Deon Jackson ranks first among those targets.
Although the Colts have a deep running back stable with Jonathan Taylor, Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins, they gave Jackson the biggest signing bonus of this year's bunch. Jackson's $45,000 signing bonus isn't big relative to other teams' signings, but the deal still shows how much the Colts like him a developmental option.
Jackson ran for 2,267 yards and 18 touchdowns during his collegiate career. He also caught 61 passes for 534 yards and four touchdowns.
To get quarterback Carson Wentz back on track, the Colts may be building around their ball-carriers to take pressure off the 2016 No. 2 overall pick.
A similar argument can be made in Tyler Vaughns and Tarik Black's favor.
The Colts already have T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell in place, and they drafted wide receiver Mike Strachan in the seventh round. But Vaughns had 912 receiving yards the last time he played alongside Pittman and Black is a 6'3" target. A bevy of talented targets can make life easier on Wentz.
Signings: WR Josh Imatorbhebhe, Illinois; WR Tim Jones, Southern Miss; DT Kenny Randall, Charleston; LB Dylan Moses, Alabama (pictured); CB DJ Daniel, Georgia; CB Corey Straughter, Louisiana-Monroe
The Jacksonville Jaguars didn't need to sign a large undrafted free-agent class after selecting nine players in the actual event and splurging at multiple positions in free agency.
But they continued to acquire quality talent when available.
Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses looked like a future first-round pick at one time, but his game never fully developed despite a successful career with the Crimson Tide. It's unfortunate because he revealed on Instagram that he overcame so much in 2020, per 247Sports' Jaylon Thompson:
"From not knowing whether or not we'd have a season, fighting through pain every single game due to not being fully recovered from the knee injury I went through last year, to losing my grandmother to COVID-19. All of this has only made me stronger and I'm happy I was able to be there day in and day out with my teammates no matter what I was going through."
While Moses has been a highly regarded player since before he stepped onto campus, Illinois wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe didn't really raise eyebrows until he put together a breathtaking workout prior to the draft. The 6'1", 218-pound target posted a staggering 46.5-inch vertical and 11'2" broad jump.
Georgia cornerback DJ Daniel falls on the other end of the spectrum. He isn't an amazing athlete, yet he consistently held up against SEC competition. According to Pro Football Focus' Brent Rollins, Daniel allowed a 46.9 completion percentage and 81.2 passer rating into his coverage.
Kansas City Chiefs
Signings: QB Shane Buechele, SMU (pictured); Edge Malik Herring, Georgia; LB Zayne Anderson, BYU; LB Riley Cole, South Alabama; CB Marlon Character, Louisville; CB Dicaprio Bootle, Nebraska, S Devon Key, Western Kentucky
The Kansas City Chiefs roster will be one of the hardest to crack for undrafted free agents because it's one of the league's most talented groups. Free agents also flock to good teams, and Kansas City is no exception.
In one offseason, general manager Brett Veach completely rebuilt a crumbling offensive line. The Chiefs' depth is now good enough that they didn't even need to sign an undrafted lineman.
Instead, Kansas City primarily addressed linebacker and cornerback once the draft ended.
BYU's Zayne Anderson and South Alabama's Riley Cole bring more athleticism to the second level of the Chiefs defense. Anderson is a converted safety who's comfortable working in space, while Cole is interesting because he may convert to fullback.
Cornerback is a little more nebulous with Charvarius Ward, L'Jarius Sneed and Rashad Fenton manning the top three spots. Both Marlon Character and Dicaprio Bottle played quite a bit at Louisville and Nebraska, respectively, and Kansas City's depth behind its top trio is suspect.
Las Vegas Raiders
Signings: RB Trey Ragas, Louisiana-Lafayette; RB Garrett Groshek, Wisconsin; WR Dillon Stoner, Oklahoma State; WR D.J. Turner, Pitt; TE Matt Bushman, BYU; OG Devery Henderson, Duke; DT Darius Stills, West Virginia (pictured); LB Max Richardson, Boston College; CB Shaun Crawford, Notre Dame; DB T.J. Morrison, Stony Brook
The Las Vegas Raiders defensive interior features Johnathan Hankins, Quinton Jefferson, Solomon Thomas, David Irving and Darius Philon. So much is made about their lack of pass rush that everyone seems to overlook how uninspiring their defensive tackles are, especially after they chose to release Maurice Hurst.
Ironically, an underrated prospect with a similar skill set could replace Hurst in the defensive line rotation.
West Virginia's Darius Stills is an undersized (6'0", 278 pounds) penetrator who one-gaps his way into opposing backfields. Stills, who started at nose tackle, played in nine games this past season before he chose to opt out. As an underclassman, he became one of the Big 12 Conference's best defenders with 19.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks during the previous two seasons.
Directly behind the defensive tackles, the Raiders needed help at linebacker but didn't draft one (unless safety Divine Deablo makes the transition). Boston College's Max Richardson racked up 282 total tackles and 31 tackles for loss over the last three seasons.
Los Angeles Chargers
Signings: WR Eli Stove, Auburn (pictured); TE Hunter Kampmoyer, Oregon; OT Kyle Spalding, San Diego State; OT Darius Harper, Cincinnati; DT Forrest Merrill, Arkansas State; DT Jared Goldwire, Louisville; LB Amen Ogbongbemiga, Oklahoma State; S Ben DeLuca, Charlotte; LS Ryan Langan, Georgia Southern; K Alex Kessman, Pitt
The Los Angeles Chargers cobbled together one of the league's best draft classes by filling their needs with high-end prospects. As a result, the undrafted class doesn't look quite as tantalizing knowing what's in front of this group.
Even so, a few players stand out mainly due to their potential on special teams.
Auburn's Eli Stove has some (albeit limited) experience as a kick and punt returner. Plus, he brings a different element to the wide receiver room as a gadget player capable of creating after a catch or handoff. Stove left the Tigers program with 1,863 total yards.
Oklahoma State's Amen Ogbongbemiga, whom the Calgary Stampeders drafted eighth overall in the 2021 CFL draft, started his collegiate career on special teams before he amassed 180 total tackles during his final two seasons.
After the Chargers' disastrous special teams performance last year, kicker Alex Kessman has to be brought up as a strong possibility to claim a job, too.
Los Angeles Rams
Signings: WR Landen Akers, Iowa State; WR Jeremiah Haydel, Texas State; OT Alaric Jackson, Iowa; OG Jordan Meredith, Western Kentucky; DT George Silvanic, Air Force; OLB Max Roberts, Boston College; CB Brontae Harris, UAB; S Paris Ford, Pitt (pictured); S Jovan Grant, Merrimack; S Troy Warner, BYU
Once again, the Los Angeles Rams didn't have a first-round pick. General manager Les Snead does what he always does by making trades to target specific players whom he thinks can help the team despite lacking the most precious draft commodity.
The Rams wanted to get more dynamic at wide receiver and add linebacker talent. They achieved both. But Snead didn't stop there, because he added two of the better undrafted free agents on the market.
Alaric Jackson has legitimate left tackle potential as a possible long-term replacement for Andrew Whitworth. Jackson kept Tristan Wirfs at right tackle when the two played together at Iowa.
Jackson started 42 games on the blind side for the Hawkeyes. He may not be anywhere close to the type of athlete Wirfs is, but Big Ten coaches and media named him a first-team All-Big Ten selection last season.
Pitt safety Paris Ford saw his draft stock plummet after a poor workout. Although his 4.85-second 40-yard dash is terrible for a defensive back, one workout shouldn't overshadow otherwise excellent play.
Ford identifies and plays well downhill. He could fit in the Rams' heavy-quarters scheme.
Signings: TE Carl Tucker, Alabama; OT Robert Jones, Middle Tennessee State (pictured); DT Jerome Johnson, Indiana; CB Jaytlin Askew, Georgia Tech
The Miami Dolphins overturned their offensive line in the last two drafts.
General manager Chris Grier drafted Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt and Solomon Kindley in the first, second and fourth rounds, respectively, of last year's event. Grier followed those additions with the selections of Liam Eichenberg and Larnel Coleman in the second and seventh frames this year.
Those five join the likes of Jesse Davis, Michael Deiter and the recently signed Matt Skura to form the core of Miami's offensive front.
The team's commitment didn't stop there. Robert Jones' signing out of Middle Tennessee State gives another strong guard candidate. The Dolphins wanted to add him so badly they gave him one of the undrafted class biggest guarantees at $130,000, per the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson.
The 6'5", 330-pound blocker can add yet another physical presence along the offensive interior.
On the other side of the ball, Jerome Johnson is another wide-body after being named second-team All-Big Ten by the league's coaches.
Georgia Tech's Jaytlin Askew enters a crowded secondary, though he brings value as a special teams standout.
Signings: RB A.J. Rose, Kentucky; WR Blake Proehl, East Carolina; WR Myron Mitchell, UAB; WR Whop Philyor, Indiana; TE Shane Zylstra, Minnesota State (pictured); DT Jordan Scott, Oregon; Edge Christian Elliss, Idaho; Edge Zeandae Johnson, Cal; LB Tuf Borland, Ohio State; K Riley Patterson, Memphis; P Zach Von Rosenberg, LSU; LS Turner Bernard, San Diego State
The Minnesota Vikings returned to the scene of the crime after the team stole a future Pro Bowl wide receiver when the organization signed Adam Thielen as an undrafted free agent in 2013.
Thielen played college ball at Minnesota State. The Vikings signed fellow Maverick Shane Zylstra after he shattered multiple records. Zylstra left the program as its all-time leader with 227 receptions, 4,297 yards and 54 touchdown receptions.
While the transition from a smaller program is always difficult, the 225-pound Zylstra added to the difficulty level with a likely transition from wide receiver to tight end. He can create some flexibility within the scheme as a slot target and H-back.
Zylstra is but one option following in Thielen's footsteps.
Indiana's Whop Philyor and East Carolina's Blake Proehl boost a wide receiver corps that didn't feature a single option with more than 20 catches beyond Thielen and Jordan Jefferson.
New England Patriots
Signings: K Quinn Nordin, Michigan
Once the 2021 NFL draft came to a close, crickets could be heard from New England.
The Patriots decided not to wade into the remaining talent pool. Instead, the team's only undrafted signing happens to be competition for veteran kicker Nick Folk.
Michigan's Quinn Nordin missed 16 career field-goal attempts in four seasons, including three of last year's measly five attempts. He seemingly got worse with each campaign, though he did set a Michigan record with 14 fields goals of 40 or more yards.
If Nordin returns to his earlier form and beats out Folk, the Patriots smartly targeted the one undrafted individual they thought could help the team. If not, the team will have failed to pursue every avenue to improve the roster.
New Orleans Saints
Signings: RB Stevie Scott III, Indiana; TE Dylan Soehner, Iowa State; OT Alex Hoffman, Carroll College; OG Mike Brown, West Virginia; DT Josiah Bronson, Washington; LB Shaq Smith, Maryland; CB Lawrence Woods, Truman State; CB Bryce Thompson, Tennessee; DB Trill Williams, Syracuse (pictured); S Eric Burrell, Wisconsin; P Nolan Cooney, Syracuse
The New Orleans Saints needed significant help at cornerback after the team released Janoris Jenkins for salary-cap purposes.
Yet the organization waited until the third round to select Stanford's Paulson Adebo. From there, general manager Mickey Loomis went in other directions instead of doubling down on the major need area.
Currently, Adebo should be scheduled to play opposite Marshon Lattimore with Patrick Robinson and C.J. Gardner-Johnson providing flexibility within the slot. The signing of Syracuse safety Trill Williams does the same thing. Williams graded as college football's second-best slot corner last season, per Pro Football Focus.
Tennessee's Bryce Thompson played outside corner, over the slot and some free safety during his time in Knoxville.
Truman State's Lawrence Woods is an undersized option at 5'9" and 180 pounds. Basically, every defensive back on the Saints roster better have inside-out versatility.
Wisconsin safety Eric Burrell may be the exception to the rule since he's better playing in the box and even rushing off the edge in pressure packages. He brings a different type of flexibility to the table.
New York Giants
Signings: OG Jake Burton, Baylor; C Brett Heggie, Florida (pictured); Edge Raymond Johnson III, Georgia Southern
The New York Giants weren't overly active in the undrafted free-agent market. The organization chose to sign a few rookies with two on the offensive side of the ball.
Between Florida's Brett Heggie and Baylor's Jake Burton, the former brings the most potential to the situation since the Giants could use help behind starting center Nick Gates. Veteran Jonotthan Harrison is on the roster, though the team could get younger and cheaper at the position.
Heggie started all 12 games at center last season. He played both guard spots the year before with 24 consecutive starts over the last two seasons. The 6'5", 321-pound Heggie is both a physical run blocker and a consistent pass protector.
Burton moved to right guard as a senior after transferring from UCLA, where started 23 games at right tackle. Again, versatility plays a factor, especially when a team is searching for quality depth.
As for Georgia Southern's Raymond Johnson, the first-team All-Sun Belt performer finished fourth last season with 49 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.
New York Jets
Signings: TE Kenny Yeboah, Ole Miss (pictured); OT Parker Ferguson, Air Force; OT Grant Hermanns, Purdue; OT Teton Saltes, New Mexico; OG Tristen Hoge, BYU; Edge Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Oregon State; DT Michael Dwumfour, Rutgers; LB Milo Eifler, Illinois; CB Isaiah Dunn, Oregon State; S Brendon White, Rutgers; S Jordyn Peters, Auburn; K Chris Naggar, SMU
Through two draft classes, New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas has built his reputation on prioritizing the trenches, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
Douglas spent top-14 selections on Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker in back-to-back classes. In fact, the Jets traded up for Vera-Tucker.
"We're always going to try to be strong up front," Douglas told reporters.
It comes as no surprise when New York continues to invest heavily in the position from that point forward.
The Jets signed four more blockers as undrafted free agents. Purdue's Grant Hermanns, Air Force's Parker Ferguson, BYU's Tristen Hoge and New Mexico's Teton Saltes provides competition. The quartet won't remain intact once cuts are made. But they can push Chuma Edoga, Cameron Clark, etc to create better overall depth while adhering to Douglas' overarching philosophy.
Kenny Yeboah may not be a true extension of the line of scrimmage, but his continued growth as a receiver gives the Jets an interesting option at tight end as well.
Signings: QB Jamie Newman, Wake Forest (pictured); WR Jhamon Ausbon, Texas A&M; WR Trevon Grimes, Florida; TE Jack Stoll, Nebraska; OT Kayode Awosika, Buffalo; C Harry Crider, Indiana; Edge Jaquan Bailey, Iowa State
The Philadelphia Eagles signed one of the most intriguing quarterback prospects in the entire 2021 class. Sure, Jamie Newman went undrafted. However, he was viewed as a potential early-round prospect not too long ago.
Newman looked like an emerging star during his final season with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. As a junior, the quarterback posted a 26-to-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Specifically, he excelled when driving the ball down the field and into tight windows. As Pro Football Focus' Anthony Treash noted, Newman's performance in the latter area ranked third over the last three seasons only behind Zach Wilson and Joe Burrow.
The quarterback transferred to Georgia the next offseason but opted out before playing a single down. Obviously, the decision didn't pay dividends for his draft stock.
Even so, Newman clearly brings talent to a quarterback room in Philadelphia that's not entirely settled. Jalen Hurts is the frontrunner for the job, of course. But how committed is the franchise to last year's second-round selection? Maybe Newman impresses and pushes Hurts.
Further help at wide receiver would certainly help. The Eagles are set with DeVonta Smith, Travis Fulgham and Jalen Reagor as the team's top three options. Beyond that, spots are readily available if signees like Jhamon Ausbon and/or Trevon Grimes turn heads in camp.
Signings: WR Rico Bussey, Hawaii; WR Isaiah McKoy, Kent State; Edge Jamar Watson, Kentucky; LB Calvin Bundage, Oklahoma State; CB Shakur Brown, Michigan State (pictured); CB Mark Gilbert, Duke; S Lamont Wade, Penn State; S Donovan Stiner, Florida
More than any other franchise, the Pittsburgh Steelers stick to the type of players who fit their program. The organization has decades of experience and continuity building around an approach that has proven to be successful.
Love or hate some of Pittsburgh's draft moves, there's no denying prospects like running back Najee Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth are built to play for the Steelers.
Adherence to their ideals extends into the organization's undrafted free-agent signings.
Michigan State's Shakur Brown is a heady zone-coverage corner with excellent read-and-react skills. According to Pro Football Focus, no Big Ten defensive back graded better in coverage last season. Duke Mark Gilbert overcame a significant hip injury during his collegiate career. Like Brown, he understands routes and what receivers are trying to accomplish, though he brings better straight-line speed.
Staying on the defensive side of the ball, Kentucky's Jamar Watson is a perfect Steelers outside linebacker. Prior to the start of the 2020 campaign, his pass-rush win rate ranked fourth just behind the likes of Nick Bosa and Chase Young.
San Francisco 49ers
Signings: WR Austin Watkins Jr., UAB; TE Josh Pederson Louisiana-Monroe; LB Justin Hilliard, Ohio State (pictured); LB Elijah Sullivan, Kansas State
Linebacker Justin Hilliard overcame a lot at Ohio State. The 5-star recruit dealt with tears to his biceps and Achilles, yet he peaked at the right time.
Hilliard became an integral contributor during the Buckeyes' run to the 2021 national title game. The sixth-year senior led the team with five tackles for loss and three fumble recoveries.
Hilliard will provide value for the San Francisco 49ers due to his versatility. He can play all three linebacker spots and immediately contribute on special teams as long as he can stay healthy.
Like Hilliard, Kansas State's Elijah Sullivan was a sixth-year senior. He started each of the last two seasons, but he's undersized at 6'0" and 215 pounds.
The Niners wanted depth along their second line of defense and now have two experienced linebackers in the fold.
At wide receiver, Austin Watkins brings a slightly bigger frame (6'1" and 209 pounds) and solid production (1,560 yards in his last 21 games) to an offense that could use another red-zone target.
Signings: RB B.J. Emmons, FAU; RB Josh Johnson, Louisiana-Monroe; WR Cade Johnson, South Dakota State (pictured); WR Tamorrion Terry, Florida State; WR Connor Wedington, Stanford; OT Greg Eiland, Mississippi State; OG Pier-Olivier Lestage, Montreal; LB Jon Rhattigan, Army; CB Bryan Mills, North Carolina Central
The Seattle Seahawks weren't entirely happy with their wide receivers corps and decided to add a whole new batch of ingredients to let Russ cook (as long as Wilson doesn't leave the kitchen).
DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are stars, but the Seahawks wanted more explosiveness to complement them. They spent their first draft pick on Western Michigan's D'Wayne Eskridge to give the offense another playmaker.
General manager John Schneider then signed three more targets as undrafted free agents.
South Dakota State's Cade Johnson is the best of the batch. The ready-made slot receiver led college football over the last three seasons with an average of 9.4 yards after the catch, per NFL Network's Ben Fennell. Like Johnson, Stanford's Connor Wedington is capable of creating with the ball in his hands. Florida State's Tamorrion Terry brings a different skill set as a 6'4" target.
Defensively, cornerback Bryan Mills is long, lean and fits what the Seahawks wants at the position. The HBCU product went to the Senior Bowl, competed hard and didn't look out of place despite not playing in 2020.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Signings: WR T.J. Simmons, West Virginia; OT Calvin Ashley, FAU; OG Sadarius Hutcherson, South Carolina (pictured); DT Elijah Ponder, Cincinnati; Edge Leighton McCarthy, FAU; CB Cameron Kinley, Navy; S Augie Contressa, Stony Brook; S Lawrence White IV, Iowa State; K Jose Borregales, Miami
Everyone wants to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, particularly after they won Super Bowl LV.
Even before then, veterans flocked to play alongside quarterback Tom Brady and for head coach Bruce Arians. The organization put together one of the all-time greatest offseasons last year. The Bucs did it again this offseason by retaining nearly all of their free agents.
The depth throughout the roster is fantastic, which will make life difficult for aspiring undrafted free agents. Two signees seemed better positioned than the rest.
South Carolina's Sadarius Hutcherson brings guard and tackle versatility, though he projects inside. Athletically, the 321-pound blocker tested among the best guard prospects in the last 34 years, per Pro Football Network's Kent Lee Platte. Starting right guard Alex Cappa is a free agent after the upcoming season.
Cincinnati defensive tackle Elijah Ponder is intriguing for similar reasons. He isn't as athletic as Hutcherson relative to his position, but Ndamukong Suh and William Gholston aren't under contract in 2022.
Signings: FB Tory Carter, LSU; TE Miller Forristall, Alabama (pictured); TE Briley Moore, Kansas State; OL Chandon Herring, BYU; OG Cole Banwart, Iowa; DT Naquan Jones, Michigan State; Edge Justus Reed, Virginia Tech; K Blake Haubeil, Ohio State; P James Smith, Cincinnati
The Tennessee Titans' draft decisions over the last few years border on disastrous.
Jeffery Simmons worked out in their favor, but Isaiah Wilson certainly didn't. This year's first-round pick, cornerback Caleb Farley, has an extensive medical history. On top of that, fourth-round pick Rashad Weaver was recently charged with simple assault after allegedly striking a woman.
"There are a lot of mishaps there that it seems like just aren't being talked about," an anonymous executive told The Athletic's Mike Sando.
The uncertainty with the Titans' draft selections make their undrafted signings that much more important.
Virginia's Justus Reed spent a long time in college (seven seasons), but he may be able to help immediately depending on what happens with Weaver. Reed set career highs last season with nine tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.
Tight end became another point of concentration with Jonnu Smith's departure. Alabama's Miller Forristall and Kansas State's Briley Moore are possible in-line options to complement Anthony Firkser.
Washington Football Team
Signings: RB Jaret Patterson, Buffalo (pictured)
The Washington Football Team maximized its undrafted free-agent class...*ahem*...signing.
Yes, the team could have added more undrafted free agents to its roster, but Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson is as good of a signing as any among the available options. Patterson carried the ball 636 times for 3,884 yards and 52 touchdowns in his three seasons with the Bulls. Last year, the MAC Offensive Player of the Year led the FBS with an average of 178.7 rushing yards per game.
Patterson is a 195-pound back who runs with a level of physicality that belies his size. He may not have a lot of wiggle, but he tied for first last season by averaging 4.74 yards after contact per run, according to Pro Football Focus.
His style of play could be ideal behind Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic.
"I can't wait to prove myself right," Patterson told ABC 7 News' Scott Abraham. "There is a lot of fuel. The number 18 to me, means a lot. Those are the 18 backs that got picked, so we have a lot of motivation.