The 2014 NFL Draft concluded yesterday, but a new frenzy took place shortly after the draft as teams scrambled to scoop up the top players that didn’t go undrafted. Big names like Dion Bailey and Isaiah Crowell became big fish in undrafted free agency, and chances are that a number of these guys will crack the 53-man roster with some even making an impact during the season. Teams like the New England Patriots are well-known for giving undrafted free agents a solid shot, and two undrafted skill position players in each of the past two years can attest to that (Brandon Bolden and Kenbrell Thompkins). It’s usually difficult to ascertain which prospects are worth noting, so I decided to stick with bigger names or players who should have been drafted. Not every team made this list, though, and I used SB Nation’s excellent tracker to sift through the candidates.
New England Patriots: East Carolina TE Justin Jones
Once again, the Patriots snagged a number of under-the-radar UDFAs who could potentially make the roster, and I have Justin Jones penciled in as one of the UDFAs who will make the roster this year. He’s a massive player at 6’8″ with plenty of strength, but he’s definitely a “move” tight end right now due to his subpar blocking. Jones needs some polish, but his upside is obvious. The Patriots weren’t the only team looking to add Jones, and the team’s lack of pass-catching options at TE outside of Rob Gronkowski bodes well for him.
Buffalo Bills: CB Deion Belue, S Kenny Ladler
The Bills made a number of undrafted free agent signings that qualify as big names, most of whom played in the SEC last year. I’m a bit surprised nobody scooped up Kenny Ladler, and we’ll see if he can crack the roster. Blue was an easy pick for this list, and Iowa State safety Deon Broomfield is worth checking out closely in training camp. Note: There are conflicting reports on Beleu, with some saying that he joined the Miami Dolphins.
Miami Dolphins: QB Brock Jensen, RB Damien Williams
The Dolphins added a number of solid players, including Arkansas offensive tackle David Hurd, and one of those UDFA signings is a backup quarterback in Brock Jensen, who seems ticketed for the practice squad after plenty of college success at North Dakota State; the Dolphins will hope that he can turn into a quality backup. The Dolphins added a talented big-school RB last year in Florida’s Mike Gillislee, and I think Williams will be even better; he’s a sleeper.
Indianapolis Colts: WR Eric Thomas
The Colts were one of the teams that showed interest in Thomas during the pre-draft process, and he figures to hit the practice squad next season. There is no doubt that the Colts have a ridiculous amount of talent at wide receiver going into next season, and they added to that by drafting Ole Miss’s tools-y Donte Moncrief. Thomas put up some big numbers at Troy and posted strong measurables, and I have him circled as a name to watch during preseason games.
Houston Texans: LB Max Bullough
During the draft, the Houston Texans added a host of solid players, and they were able to sign Michigan State Spartans two-down thumper Max Bullough in undrafted free agency. Bullough should make the roster, but it’s doubtful that he will make a strong impact due to his poor play in coverage. Still, he was great in college and fits the 3-4 scheme nicely.
Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Stephen Morris, S Craig Loston
Nobody should be surprised that Stephen Morris went undrafted, because he had a putrid 2013 season at Miami. Morris fell off a cliff after a very strong 2012 season, as he took a major step-back last year, especially in the decision-making department. He needs to clean up his mechanics and learn how to work in a muddy pocket better, and his accuracy was erratic last year. That said, he’s a dual-threat QB with intriguing tools, and the Jaguars look like a good landing spot for him. I’m very surprised Craig Loston didn’t go drafted, and he isn’t the only second or third-tier safety to have fallen out of the draft completely. It first looked like Loston signed with the Arizona Cardinals, but it now looks like he will join the Jaguars young, talented defensive backfield.
Tennessee Titans: S Hakeem Smith, RB Antonio Andrews
So the Tennessee Titans came away with a quality haul of undrafted free agents yesterday, with Louisville Cardinals safety Hakeem Smith being one of the headliners. The partner-in-crime of first-round pick Calvin Pryor, Smith should be able to make a roster but will probably end up being a special teams guy. Andrews has more of a chance of sticking, as the Titans backfield has more than enough room for him as a rotational guy between the tackles.