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NFL Draft Analysis

NFC UDFA class grades

by Thor Nystrom
Updated On: May 13, 2022, 3:43 am ET

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I call the UDFA free-for-all after the completion of Day 3 the "Dessert draft." The UDFA carousel on Saturday night in essence takes care of Rounds 8-20 at warp-speed.

Undrafted players comprise roughly one-fifth of NFL rosters and provide the NFL with more value and snaps than the sixth- and seventh-rounds combined. In three-consecutive years, the Chargers found Austin Ekeler, the Broncos discovered Phillip Lindsay, and the Jaguars struck gold with James Robinson during the UDFA sweepstakes.

The list of Hall of Famers who went undrafted includes Kurt Warner, John Randle, Warren Moon and Dick “Night Train” Lane. Recent notable UDFA include Tony Romo, Doug Baldwin, James Harrison, Wes Welker, Antonio Gates, Arian Foster, Cameron Wake and Chris Harris. Current UDFAs making an impact in the NFL include Adam Thielen, Robby Anderson, Alejandro Villanueva, La’El Collins, Michael Pierce, Shaquil Barrett, Mario Addison, Cory Littleton, Malcolm Butler, J.C. Jackson, and Anthony Harris.

This year's UDFA crop is especially intriguing. Because the NCAA’s 2020 pandemic eligibility waiver allowed graduated seniors to return to school, the 2021 NFL Draft had only 657 declared prospects. By contrast, the year before, in 2020, 1,932 prospects declared. This class, with eligibilities exhausting of players granted the extra year, we had over 2,000 declarees. That means a deeper UDFA pool.

Let's dive into how the NFC did in this year's "Dessert Draft." The ranking in parenthesis following each team below indicates how each ranked overall in the NFL. Speaking of that, check back Friday for my AFC UDFA class rankings. 


1. Dallas Cowboys (1)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
iOL16167Alec LindstromJ.C. Tretter8.356033299
WR29200Dontario DrummondRon Dugans5.76007217
CB30210Isaac Taylor-StuartEli Apple9.616014201
LB20230Aaron HansfordDrue Tranquill7.616025239
S17233Markquese BellKamu Grugier-Hill8.956020212
S19253Juanyeh ThomasDarrick Forrest8.486006213
WR39263Ty FryfogleTravis Fulgham7.26011209
WR44307Jaquarii RobersonCedrick Wilson9.026007182
ED35325Mika TafuaMalcolm Koonce9.036027249
iOL39387James EmpeyGreg Mancz2.586034297
TE25452Peyton HendershotBrevin Jordan8.46036246
S38467La'Kendrick Van ZandtAndrew Wingard8.095114210
CB53474Quandre MoselyDerrick Baity 6016185
ED47493Big Kat BryantAaron Lynch2.866040254
QB36---Terry WilsonVad Lee 6022204
RB50---Aaron ShampklinMatt Breida8.285093194
RB59---Malik DavisKyle Hicks5.955097202
WR79---Dennis HoustonJhajuan Seales7.586011198
OT56---Amon Simon 2.886046303
LB73---Storey Jackson 6.296017224
K7---Jonathan Garibay  6010215

 

No team invests in undrafted talent like the Cowboys. This is my fourth year ranking UDFA classes for NBC. During that time, Dallas has spent more UDFA money than any other organization. Is it any wonder that the Cowboys have finished with a top-10 UDFA class all four years? The Cowboys ranked No. 9 in 2019, No. 1 in 2020, No. 2 in 2021, and have once-again assumed the top-overall spot in 2022.

This year, the Cowboys signed six prospects I had draftable grades on (top-262), as well as the highest-ranked UDFA-graded prospect on my board (Ty Fryfogle). I had a R5 grade on C Alec Lindstrom, R6 grades on WR Dontario Drummond and CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart, and R7 grades on LB Aaron Hansford, S Markquese Bell, and S Juanyeh Thomas.

I’m still surprised Lindstrom didn’t get drafted. Especially after a similar undersized pivot prospect, Drew Dalman, returned huge investment for the Falcons last year on a R4 pricetag. Like Dalman, Lindstrom is a smart, athletic, undersized interior lineman with deep NFL bloodlines running through his veins. 

Drummond is a weird prospect. He’s a 215-pound slot receiver that only runs a 4.65. He was forced to go to “Last Chance U” – East Mississippi Community College – out of high school, and didn’t pop-off at Mississippi until his last year when he could play slot full-time following Elijah Moore’s departure. But he’s a sure-handed, tackle-breaking machine who gets after it blocking. Drummond also has return chops.

Taylor-Stuart was a top-40 overall recruit coming out of high school. He has an ideal blend of length and speed (4.42). He’s a fabulous all-around athlete who owns a second-degree blackbelt off the field. But Taylor-Stuart needs to find a position (corner or free safety?), refine his technique, and improve his instincts. If the light ever turns on, he'll be a player.

Dallas' UDFA class had everything: Draftable talent, depth, athleticism (nine tested in the RAS 80th-percentile or better), and well-reasoned shots at positions of need.


2. New Orleans Saints (3)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
RB10156Abram SmithMarlon Mack6.615115213
S14171Smoke MondayBarry Church6.466016207
WR25181Dai'Jean DixonAndre Holmes5.96030205
CB26201Vincent GrayKeenan Lewis7.26020195
CB38277DaMarcus FieldsJosh Lay6.195115192
S23316Jack KoernerGreg Blue9.196003209
LB29348Nephi SewellShaun Bradley7.045114224
TE22363Lucas KrullBriley Moore-McKinney9.076061253
LB40472Isaiah PryorGarret Wallow7.636013220
iOL47479Eric WilsonEric Heitmann8.686035306
WR73480Dee AndersonJaleel Scott8.156052218
iOL48485Lewis KiddJohn Molchon8.056060311
QB42---Preston Haire  5111200
WR120---Rashid Shaheed  5105185
iOL68---Derek Schweiger  6034314
OT50---Sage Doxtater  6063350
DL50---Nyles Pinckney  6011286
DL88---Elijah James 1.856042297
ED57---Jacoby Jones 3.426023267
LB56---Joel Dublanko 6.846025243
LB88---Bryce Notree 5.636024233
S86---CJ Holmes 1.525105184
K9---John Parker Romo  5110174
P6---Daniel Whelan  6060215

 

The Saints are one of three NFL teams that have finished in the top-10 of my UDFA rankings all four years. The Saints, who check in No. 3 overall this year, finished No. 1 in 2019, No. 3 in 2020, and No. 7 in 2021. Sean Payton was notoriously aggressive on the telephone in the late-rounds recruiting UDFAs during his tenure, and the Saints kept to the same ethos this year without him.

The Saints signed four players I had draftable grades on, including two R5s (RB Abram Smith and S Smoke Monday) and two R6s (WR Dai'Jean Dixon and CB Vincent Gray). 

In his only season as a full-time starting RB after shifting over from LB, Smith posted a Baylor-record 1,601 rushing yards on 6.2 YPC. Smith is a profit-taking runner that's rarely finished behind the line. He exhibits good patience and tempo, along with crisp cuts into the hole in Baylor’s wide-zone system. 

In this RB class, Smith finished top-10 last year in both overall PFF grade and yards after contact per attempt. He’s a little stiff in the lower half, remains raw as a receiver, and lacks joystick agility and high-end speed – but I think his early-down efficiency will translate to the NFL.

I was surprised Monday didn’t get picked in the draft. He’s long and athletic, and a proven playmaker in the SEC (three-straight years with a pick-6). Monday will be able to contribute on special teams immediately. He’s a willing contributor in run defense and can be played in the box. But while he has the athleticism and ball skills for coverage, Monday is a risk-taker who can leave himself susceptible to getting burned. That’ll be the primary thing New Orleans works with him on this summer.

Dixon has great size and ball skills but will need to improve as a route-runner to make a difference at the next level. Gray is blessed with length, and possesses the instincts Monday arguably lacks. But Gray lacks take-on play strength, and needs to improve his ball skills (zero career INT despite playing WR in high school).

In all, the Saints signed 12 UDFA that made my Thor500 big board. That group had an average size-adjusted RAS athletic composite slightly above the 75th-percentile. Those are the projectable developmental stabs you want to add during the Dessert Draft.


3. Philadelphia Eagles (5)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
QB593Carson StrongJared Goff 6033230
CB15118Josh JobeCordrea Tankersley 5114189
CB23170Mario GoodrichLevi Wallace5.036002191
DL17224Noah EllissDanny Shelton 6042351
RB22270Kennedy BrooksBilal Powell5.995105209
iOL24279William DunkleKraig Urbik4.826047347
WR50333Britain CoveyBraxton Berrios5.925080169
S29398Reed BlankenshipDaniel Sorensen86006203
iOL42437Josh SillsAdam Grant7.916055322
OT40468Jarrid WilliamsMax Scharping7.626055323
CB60---Josh BlackwellXavier Crawford8.255106183
S69---Jordan Happle  5116202
S73---Jaylan Foster 0.475096185

​​

The third team in the NFL that has finished in the top-10 of these rankings four-years running? That would be the Eagles. Like the Cowboys and Saints, Philly prioritizes the UDFA process and is willing to pay through the nose to land players they believe should have been drafted. 

Per Spotrac, the Eagles gave Nevada QB Carson Strong a UDFA-record $320k in guarantees. To illustrate how intense the bidding for Strong’s services must have been, consider that the previous record for guaranteed money to a UDFA was a “mere” $200k. The guaranteed money Strong received was equivalent to what the Bears gave OT Braxton Jones, a fifth-rounder taken with the No. 168 overall pick. 

The Eagles were far from done. They reportedly gave out three other signing bonuses between $217k-$240k (RB Kennedy Brooks, DT Noah Ellis and CB ​​Mario Goodrich), as well as four additional six-figure guarantees (OG Josh Sills, OG William Dunkle, CB Josh Jobe, and CB Josh Blackwell).

Expect that strategy to pay off with multiple long-term contributors. Strong was a Day 2 talent if not for questions about the health of his knee – is it degenerative, or not? – as well as maturity issues. But boy if he doesn’t have a big-league arm. He was the only top-100 player on my board that didn’t get picked… it wasn’t a surprise that there was a bidding frenzy for his services once the draft concluded.

Brooks, in contrast to some other UDFAs from blueblood schools, has always been more than the sum of his parts. He only posted a 4.59 forty, but Brooks runs with exemplary patience, tempo and vision. He’s got a real shot to crack the roster.

Goodrich is another guy that outplays his measurables – I saw some Levi Wallace in him. Jobe played through a turf toe injury last year and didn’t acquit himself well. He should have returned to school. It was still a surprise to see him go undrafted, and the price was right to see if he can return to his 2020 level of play.

Noah Ellis is an enormous interior presence that’ll be a plus against the run at the next level. Dunkle is another elephantine prospect, a collegiate tackle likely kicking inside at the next level. He would have been drafted if not for his disappointing testing.


4. New York Giants (9)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
S16191Yusuf CorkerShawn Davis6.456000199
TE15283Austin AllenGavin Escobar8.086075252
DL22298Christopher HintonMontravius Adams5.566035304
RB30303Jashaun CorbinDeon Jackson5.385111203
DL27347Tyrone TruesdellFrederick Jones 6017347
iOL38385Josh RivasBraden Smith5.486055330
CB46407Zyon GilbertBlessuan Austin8.686002182
TE24418Jeremiah HallAlex Armah2.516015239
WR71471Daylen BaldwinBranden Smith4.316017218
WR85---Jahcour PearsonSammie Parker6.915073178
iOL53---Matt AllenT.J. Johnson0.266023303
iOL70---Navaughn Donaldson 0.746053350
iOL75---Ben Adler 3.416037337
OT52---Barry Wesley 5.346063312
DL53---Antonio Valentino 4.736024298
DL56---Jabari Ellis 7.556017278
DL73---Dennis Johnson 7.236020309
ED83---Jaylin Bannerman 2.956041236
LB54---Tomon Fox  6023253
CB69---Darren Evans 6.556022179
CB92---Tobias Oliver 7.136004204
S52---Trenton Thompson 4.646010196
S62---Brandon Easterling 8.685106199
S72---Gage Kreski 7.966007209

 

The Giants brought in a ton of guys for tryout looks. But it’s the top of their class that snuck them into the top-10 of our UDFA rankings this year.

Corker was a team captain each of the past two years who posted 159 tackles across 24 games during that span. I love the fearlessness he plays with – he flies downhill like a bat of hell looking to de-cleat runners. The biggest question will be if he has the agility to trust in coverage at the next level.

Though Corker was the only UDFA that the Giants signed who I had a draftable grade on, New York was able to flesh out its crop with eight other prospects who made my pre-draft 500-player big board. 

The two-most intriguing dart throws amongst that latter group might be TE Austin Allen and CB Zyon Gilbert – both are highly projectable. Gilbert has the height, long speed, and athleticism for any task, but will need to work on his technique to hang. 

Allen nearly measured in at 6’8. Not only is he massive and long, but Allen is a very strong athlete for his size. He doesn’t run great routes – struggling to separate – but he knows how to use body to pin defenders to his back, and he spears balls outside his frame and holds on through contact.


5. Atlanta Falcons (10)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
OT15154Dare RosenthalBruce Campbell7.676066290
LB22241Nate LandmanJosey Jewell6.416024238
WR46318Stanley Berryhill IIIWhop Philyor5.855096182
DL29361Derrick TangeloNeville Gallimore7.496017296
OT30367Tyler VrabelSam Tevi7.66056315
S30404Brad HawkinsJaquiski Tartt7.656004207
WR61412Tyshaun JamesKristian Wilkerson9.556022214
WR69453Jared BernhardtChris Hogan7.326011189
CB55488Matt HankinsHarlan Miller1.256001181
TE58---Leroy Watson 4.366045270
iOL59---Ryan Johnson 5.066057314
iOL64---Tyler Witt 4.296021304
OT44---Ja'Chai Baker  6056321
DL44---Timmy Horne  6042323
DL48---Kobie Whiteside 3.566004317
DL61---Bryce Rodgers 2.336023309
DL84---Tucker Fisk 5.716034287
LB43---Kuony DengAkeem Ayers4.936053244
S53---Will Adams 6.646007186
S55---Tre Webb 7.956007200

 

The two names to watch here are Dare Rosenthal and Nate LandmanRosenthal would have been drafted if not for questions about his maturity. He signed with LSU as a defensive lineman but quickly transitioned to the offensive line, where he contributed following his redshirt campaign.

But Rosenthal’s next two seasons were filled with disciplinary issues. He fled to Kentucky for his final year. He played LT along a very strong UK offensive line, finishing No. 21 in PFF grade last year and No. 20 in run-blocking amongst this OT class.

Landman is a fearless gap-plugger who triggers downhill quickly and arrives with a thud. Colorado’s defense cratered whenever he was off the field. He lacks speed (4.82 forty), but had 72nd-percentile or better showings in the 3-cone, vertical jump and broad jump. Landman could turn into an early-down tone-setter against the run if everything breaks right and his body doesn’t betray him – he’s got a physical game heavy on violent collisions.


6. San Francisco 49ers (11)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
iOL14124Dohnovan WestIsaac Seumalo7.016033309
S18245Leon O'Neal Jr.Kenny Vaccaro6.076005204
WR51336Calvin Turner Jr.Tavon Austin7.065113197
WR52341Tay MartinIsaiah Ford6.456014184
WR54354Taysir MackTre Nixon7.696017200
iOL33356Jason PoeKyle Hinton9.476005300
LB30368Jeremiah GemmelCole Holcomb 6006225
RB48469Jordan MasonAlfred Morris7.135111223
S39477Marcelino McCrary-BallRudy Ford9.045116212
RB69---Cyrus Habibi-LikioKenny Hilliard1.95117219
TE56---Garrett Walston 1.366042241
OT46---Sam Schlueter  6060309
DL57---Kevin Atkins  6022314
LB58---Segun Olubi 8.146001225
S45---Tayler Hawkins 6.086000203
S50---Qwuantrezz Knight 3.725106195

 

Dohnovan West was one of two Arizona State offensive linemen who shockingly went undrafted (Kellen Diesch was the other). I’m a big fan of West’s. He started immediately at ASU, and ended up manning three different positions during his three-year career, both guard spots and center.

West moves well but lacks bulk and play strength. He’s a perfect-fit for a zone-blocking team, and he found a match in signing with the 49ers. The 49ers have Alex Mack as a one-year plan at center. After that, it wouldn’t surprise me if West impressed enough to put himself in serious contention for the 2023 starting lineup.

Expect at least one of the 49ers’ three UDFA receiver signings to make the Week 1 roster. It’ll be interesting to see if San Francisco’s offensive brain trust can make something out of Hawaii OW Calvin Turner. Turner was moved all over the place by Hawaii – backfield, slot, out wide, and as a Wildcat QB – and also has extensive special-teams experience.


7. Green Bay Packers (12)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
RB13190Tyler GoodsonChase Edmonds9.555093202
LB26278Ellis BrooksAkeem Davis-Gaither5.546013226
OT36427Caleb JonesTrey Adams1.96087370
RB45428B.J. BaylorMike Gillislee6.075100202
OT37434George MooreK.C. McDermott5.376056312
WR65436Keke ChismJamal Custis5.526041209
CB51445Raleigh TexadaShaun Prater8.225102191
ED43448Ryder AndersonJashon Cornell7.66062276
S41497Tre SterlingJosh Bullocks4.555115205
QB37---Max BortenschlagerZach Smith0.576031207
WR78---Danny Davis IIICam Phillips2.446003188
WR124---Anthony Turner  6031218
TE35---Sean DykesCethan Carter4.976001234
TE54---Carson Terrell 4.426047248
iOL55---Cole Schneider  6031309
iOL83---Will Ulmer 7.126041310
OT43---Jahmir Johnson  6043290
DL47---Akial Byers 0.326026308
DL80---Hauati Pututau  6031306
ED55---Chauncey Manac 3.646027246
LB89---Caliph Brice 7.26014233
CB103---Zafir Kelly 3.925112178
S68---Xavior Williams 7.975114195
S92---Kendall Karcz  6000185
S95---Alex Spillum 5.886017188

 

The gem of this class is Iowa’s Tyler “Spin Shady” Goodson, a sweet-footed air back with joystick agility. Goodson is a fabulous receiver who gives effort in pass-pro. But he lacks play strength and goes down on first contact – which was a bad fit behind Iowa’s offensive line last year, which had its worst crop of guards and tackles of the past 20 years. 

Goodson also was done no favors by Iowa’s lethargic passing attack, which encouraged opponents to cheat up in an attempt to stop him. Goodson’s down 2021 season is the reason he didn’t get drafted – but his pre-2021 work, athletic profile, and on-field skills all screamed middle-round pick.

The rest of Green Bay’s class prioritized quantity over quality. While Goodson was the only Packers UDFA I had a draftable grade on, the Packers were able to snatch up eight additional prospects on my 500 board.

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8. Detroit Lions (15)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
OT14143Obinna EzeJaryd Jones-Smith5.366064328
WR35240Josh JohnsonDamonte Coxie3.725104179
WR48323Corey SuttonGeronimo Allison 6015208
WR49327Kalil PimpletonDri Archer6.555075172
RB37371Greg BellBrian Calhoun4.45104201
CB45399Jermaine WallerJohnthan Banks3.836003180
TE26486Derrick Deese Jr.Pharaoh Brown3.736032244
TE63---Nolan Givan  6030260
iOL50---Kevin JarvisBeau Benzschawel6.666051317
OT53---Zein Obeid 8.536042309
ED53---Demetrius Taylor 6.56001289
CB73---Cedric Boswell 3.025103185
S82---Najee Reams 4.716005195

 

The Lions have fared better than this year’s middle-of-the-pack UDFA finish in recent years. I wonder if that was in part a result of NFL agents recognizing the rising tide of talent on Detroit’s roster following three successful drafts in a row.

My favorite prospect that Detroit added outside the draft was Obinna Eze. The NFL seemed to throw up its hands at the OG/OT tweener who spent his first four seasons at Memphis. But Eze was a four-star recruit coming out of high school who had offers from a who’s-who of bluebloods. He started his last 37 collegiate games.

Eze lacks height, but he has verifiably freakish length, with a wingspan of 7’2. He gets his hands on you first and they arrive like defibrillators. But Eze will need to improve his lower-body strength for his presumed move to OG in the NFL, and he’s going to need to cut down on the penalties. 

Outside of that, Detroit made a concerted effort to attack UDFA receivers, bringing in three that I ranked inside the top-377. Expect at least one of them to hang on the active roster, and perhaps even two.


9. Seattle Seahawks (17)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
QB12260Kaleb ElebyDavid Fales1.696006206
S21289Bubba BoldenChris Conte8.126021209
S24320Scott NelsonTroy Apke9.696020203
CB43372MyKael WrightK’Waun Williams2.975104181
S35440Joey BlountSean Davis9.626010201
LB39458Avery RobertsMichael Clay3.35113221
QB23465Levi LewisB.J. Daniels3.245084187
ED46489Joshua OnujioguPeppi Zellner 6030250
RB78---Jace Jordan  5100200
WR82---John MitchellBoo Williams8.226037235
WR83---Demetris RobertsonStacy Coley4.935116183
WR98---Jaylon Redd  5090170
WR101---Rodney Coates 5.626015193
WR109---Jake Herslow  5114181
TE44---Cade Brewer 2.76023237
iOL58---Keenan Forbes 6.276023333
iOL86---Shamarious Gilmore 8.26026301
OT45---Liam Ryan  6047305
DL83---Matthew Gotel 3.466016341
LB62---Vi Jones 8.866026225
CB83---Elijah Jones 6.746007188
S89---Tyrese Dedmon 4.576002195
S90---Deontai Williams 6.515111203
P8---Race Porter  6030190

 

Seattle didn’t take a quarterback in the NFL Draft, and HC Pete Carroll stated in its aftermath that he isn’t expecting a trade for a signal-caller. If Seattle doesn’t add another one, Kaleb Eleby is going to have a shot to crack the Week 1 roster behind Drew Lock and Geno Smith.

Eleby is short and non-athletic, but he’s got a live arm and uses it to attack the intermediate and deep sectors. He posted a 45/11 TD/INT in college. Eleby is going to have to overcome a tendency to stare-down his primary target if he’s going to hang in the NFL – his margins are too thin to overcome that bugaboo otherwise.


10. Chicago Bears (21)

LB19222Jack SanbornMonty Rice7.356014239
OT27300Jean DelanceCharles Leno6.776042303
TE21353Chase AllenCameron Brate7.336061247
CB54476Allie Green IVJamal Peters2.556024203
DL38449Mike GreeneCedric Woodard5.456023281
QB40---Drew PlittBrogan Roback 6022206
RB53---De'Montre TuggleReggie Corbin6.885084206
RB62---Maurice BurkleyMaurice Morris9.565110212
RB77---Demario McCall 5.865093179
WR87---Kevin Shaa  5096166
WR100---Luke Little  6033220
TE37---Braden GallowayNick Eubanks7.176041239
TE40---Jake TongesJacob Hollister7.576043240
TE53---Brandon Chapman 6.966047243
TE62---Johnny Huntley 1.286023235
OT69---Tristen Taylor 9.526050315
DL49---Kainoa Fuiava  6027316
DL59---Ralph Holley 6.836006297
DL68---Micah Dew-Treadway 2.646040308
ED80---Josh Black  6025284
LB52---Christian Albright 7.836022226
LB61---CJ Avery 7.285117230
LB69---Ezekiel Barnett  6017228
LB95---Jamal Brooks 5.356002234
CB58---Dishon McNaryDeshon Elliott 6003190
CB102---Coney Durr 2.295092194
CB104---Derick Bush 5.535112194
CB106---Roy Baker 7.136015200
CB110---Tre Bugg 5.15111189
S48---Jaylon Jones 9.185106190
S61---Bydarrius Knighten 2.895116198
S87---Jon Alexander 3.886020217

 

I was a little puzzled by the Bears draft. And if I’m being honest, I was a bit surprised – and underwhelmed – by their showing in the UDFA sweepstakes as well. It wasn’t an issue of legwork. Chicago cast an enormous net and brought in a league-high amount of UDFA either on contracts or tryouts.

The issue, instead, is squandering the one advantage that having a poor roster should give you – a leg-up when pitching to agents during the UDFA free-for-all. Each NFL agent has intricate diagrams of every NFL depth chart. During the latter-stages of Day 3 on Saturday, when teams start calling prospects that have fallen through the cracks, agents are always eying the most advantageous situation (in addition to bartering for the highest-possible amount of guaranteed money). 

The Bears should have been in the catbird seat during those discussions – there aren’t many other rosters in the NFL where UDFA could have felt better about potentially cracking the opening-day roster.

So how does Chicago leave the UDFA process – following an underwhelming draft where they didn’t have a R1 pick – with only one prospect I had a draftable grade on? I’m all about bringing in waves of prospects for tryouts to see if you can find something that other teams missed during the scouting process. 

But if you’re Chicago, how do you not invest more heavily during this process? Handfuls of prospects who went undrafted would have had a shot to not only crack Chicago’s roster, but play early. Instead of ponying up, the Bears skimped. Missed opportunity.


11. Carolina Panthers (23)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
WR31216Charleston RamboGary Jennings5.826005177
DL23312Marquan McCallBenito Jones1.036025354
LB33401Isaiah Graham-MobleyDylan Moses6.216010229
WR64424Andrew ParchmentDaMarkus Lodge4.286020191
WR70461Ra'Shaun HenryTiquan Underwood9.46015185
QB27---Davis CheekMatt Flynn5.636020216
QB31---Anthony RussoElijah Sindelar3.96030239
RB61---John LovettReuben Droughns4.575114215
WR97---Talolo Limu-Jones 6.016040225
WR112---Derek Wright 8.796006193
TE33---Josh BabiczAntony Auclair8.146057255
TE60---Jovani Haskins 6.266044252
ED52---Arron Mosby  6030250
ED69---Carson Taylor 7.046034241
LB50---Khalan Tolson 6.65110231
LB79---DeJaun Cooper 7.656026229
S44---Drew HartlaubNick Scott9.15111170

 

Carolina targeted the wide receiver position during the UDFA free-for-all. Of the five they signed, it would be stunning if at least one didn’t make the roster.

The best bet for that is Rambo, who surprisingly went undrafted after popping off for a 79-1172-7 line in his only season at Miami. Rambo is an adept route-runner blessed with good length and play speed. And what better mentor for him than former UDFA Robby Anderson?

Parchment has good size and has shown refined skills on the field despite being caught in poor passing offenses for the duration of his career (NIU, Kansas, FSU). But he's a below-average athlete who may not have NFL juice.

Opposite story for Henry, who only played two years in the FBS after transferring up. He’s a raw prospect with dynamic athleticism. At nearly 6’2, Henry ran a 4.46 with 90th-percentile or better showings in the vertical jump, broad jump, and 3-cone. Henry averaged nearly 20 yards per catch on his 48 grabs at Virginia.


12. Los Angeles Rams (24)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
K2267Cameron DickerRyan Succop 6007220
DL31373Dion NovilJorDan Phillips3.436012300
iOL37381Jack SnyderChandon Herring9.56050306
ED40394Brayden ThomasWyatt Huber6.726030258
LB35425Jake HummelMatt Milano9.476017225
WR88---Lance McCutcheon  6030202
TE39---Jamal PettigrewCoby Fleener9.386064244
TE41---Roger CarterCharlie Taumoepeau8.116020256
DL86---Elijah Garcia 8.876053290
ED50---Benton Whitley

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

 6025257
ED72---Keir Thomas 2.596012255
LB67---

Andrzej Hughes-Murray

  6020244
CB62---TJ CarterDarnay Holmes3.625092189
CB71---Duron Lowe 4.325096186
CB86---Caesar Williams  6001190
S66---Jairon McVea 5.585090182
S96---Daniel Isom  5100191

 

The Rams signed the best UDFA kicker – Dicker the Kicker – and didn’t do much of note outside of that. But Dicker will be given a fair shot to compete with Matt Gay, who bounced around a bit before, among other things, eliminating his former team the Buccaneers from the 2021 playoffs with a game-winning kick.


13. Tampa Bay Bucs (25)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
WR37257Jerreth SternsLance Moore5.535073183
WR45313Deven ThompkinsBrandon Banks7.175067167
QB19360Aqeel GlassLandry Jones1.116036231
S28377Nolan TurnerAndrew Sendejo7.736007202
CB48416Kyler McMichaelBrandon Facyson5.086001201
WR72478Kaylon GeigerEddie Royal4.225100180
WR113---Kameron Brown 2.576023218
TE55---Ben Beise 8.826027247
iOL65---Curtis Blackwell 8.066052302
iOL72---Keegan Cryder  6044306
iOL91---Devontay Love-Taylor 0.466033301
OT54---Dylan Cook 6.756064308
DL71---Keyshon Camp 8.176027283
ED85---Bronson Massie 0.696022259
LB48---Olakunle Fatukasi 7.536012234
LB59---JJ Russell 6.436003227
LB85---Jordan Young 3.576014231
CB84---Don Gardner 8.16004189
K6---Parker White  6040203

 

Weird UDFA strategy for the Bucs. The team has Russell Gage starting in the slot, backed up by Tyler Johnson, Jaelon Dardon and Scotty Miller – yet three of Tampa Bay's six consequential UDFA signings are slot receivers.

That said, I’m a fan of Jerreth Sterns, who led the NCAA in receiving last season before shockingly getting spurned by the NFL Combine. Sterns is small and lacks athleticism, but he’s an awesome route-runner with ball skills.


14. Washington Commanders (27)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
QB10229Cole KelleyPaxton Lynch2.46075249
TE16292Curtis HodgesC.J. Fiedorowicz7.396077258
WR56366Jequez EzzardReggie Bell6.915090204
iOL35369Tyrese RobinsonShane Lemieux3.056031319
ED45484Jacub PanasiukKenny Willekes3.56033253
RB90---Dejoun Lee 7.295060173
WR91---Jonathan Johnson 6.776025196
WR114---Kyric McGowan 3.835105200
TE28---Armani RogersTyree Jackson 6053230
ED76---Deionte Knight 6.526031280
LB51---Tre Walker 1.86002235
LB53---Drew White 5.96002228
LB60---Ferrod Gardner  6002216
CB79---Nijuel Hill 3.815087180
CB89---De'Vante Cross  6003216
CB100---Josh Drayden 1.495095184
CB107---Devin Taylor 1.475115191

 

The NFL never seemed to warm up to Cole Kelley, coming off a pair of incredible seasons in the FCS after he transferred down from Arkansas. Kelley is a jumbo-sized quarterback with short-yardage battering-ram rushing chops. He doesn’t have a big arm, but he’s accurate short and intermediate. 

Kelley wouldn’t seem to have a great shot of cracking this roster – he enters camp behind Carson Wentz, Taylor Heinicke, and Sam Howell – but may latch on elsewhere if he shows something in the preseason. If not, Washington is assuredly earmarking one of its practice squad slots for his development.


15. Arizona Cardinals (28)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
RB32310Ronnie RiversJaret Patterson5.975074198
CB40335Darrell Baker Jr.Derrek Thomas9.16007190
RB39383T.J. PledgerLavon Coleman4.115082192
DL36433LaRon StokesEd Stinson5.256036278
QB22459Jarrett GuarantanoK.J. Costello4.16027219
WR74490Changa HodgeDemetrius Byrd4.526004196
WR89---Jontre Kirklin 6.085115184
WR92---JaVonta Payton 3.356003175
WR105---Stephon Robinson Jr. 2.615091181
iOL66---Cole Bentley 6.976033310
DL51---Keonte Schad 7.36022284
ED61---Manny Jones 8.146025280
ED67---Will Miles 7.356050279
S67---Kekaula Kaniho 2.295102186
S99---Alonzo Addae 2.445103184

 

Baker has a shot to crack the roster and was worth the investment on measurables alone. The rest of this crop is uninspiring.

The pair of running backs were the other big investment, but both are extreme long-shots to crack the roster. Ronnie Rivers will enter camp as RB5, and Pledger is likely entering as RB7.


16. Minnesota Vikings (32)

PosRankNameCompRASHTWT
RB36359Bryant KobackTy Johnson9.725106209
K3362Gabe BrkicZane Gonzalez 6020197
ED39388Luiji VilainJonathon Greenard8.836035255
WR99---Thomas Hennigan 2.696011210
iOL89---Josh Sokol 7.556020309
DL63---Tyarise Stevenson 1.246020352
LB44---Zach McCloudSamuel Ebukam6.446017246
S83---Mike Brown 7.576005218

 

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and crew struggled to get their footing in the post-draft UDFA sweepstakes, but did bring in a few prospects who’ll be given chances to hang.

Koback is a big-play runner with plenty of athleticism. He ran for more than 4,000 yards over four years in school while displaying soft hands as a receiver (54 catches the past two years). But he’s merely a dump-off outlet guy – doesn’t run routes – and he doesn’t pass-block. Assuredly the Vikings will always have someone more capable for passing-down work. Koback isn’t likely to beat out either Kene Nwangwu or Ty Chandler for a roster spot, but is absolutely worth a practice squad spot.

Brkic will have a real chance to unseat Greg Joseph this summer. The other signing of note was Luiji Vilain, an undersized, athletic edge defender. Vilain drew rave reviews out of rookie camp. The Vikings have a ton of bodies to compete for backup OLB spots in the new 3-4 defense. But it wouldn’t be a surprise if Vilain climbed his way up the depth chart to the Week 1 active roster, especially if early reports are to be believed.


Coming Friday: AFC UDFA class grades

Thor Nystrom

Thor Nystrom is NBC Sports Edge’s lead CFB writer. The 2018 FSWA College Sports Writer of the Year, Nystrom’s writing has also been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. Say hi to him on Twitter @thorku!