Guest Columnist Mitch Melheim scanned the undrafted Free Agent market after last week’s draft and discusses ten undrafted rookies to keep an eye on.
Well, the NFL Draft is over and it’s time to go fishing for the best of the “leftovers”. Undrafted Rookies are tricky to pin down. Some past Undrafted Rookies include James Harrison, Arian Foster, and Willie Parker but also the likes of many, many others that never made an NFL squad. This is where I come in to sort out the contenders from the pretenders and present you with the ten undrafted rookies that you should keep an eye on:
DeAndre McDaniel, SS, Clemson – McDaniel is a tough-nosed, ballhawking safety who was projected to go as high as a day two pick and for a couple very slight reasons, was not drafted. He can tackle as well as just about any DB in the draft and was the ACC’s active leader in career interceptions with 15. He would be a fantastic pickup for any team needing help in the secondary and would be best suited as a SS in the NFL.
Why he wasn’t drafted – He had a relatively slow 40 time and an arrest for high and aggravated assault on his former girlfriend from 3 years ago but he appears to have turned the corner as he is now an honor roll student.
Jake Kirkpatrick, C, TCU – Kirkpatrick is no stranger to being snubbed. After winning the Rimington Award as the best center in the country and being named an SI 1st-team All-American the year before, he was not even invited to the combine. Now, after being passed up in the draft too he has a chip on his shoulder. He is a very intelligent player who set the blocking scheme on every play for the Horned Frogs and could be a solid backup for 10+ years in the NFL.
Why he wasn’t drafted – He lacks aggression and effort at times.
Darren Evans, RB, Virginia Tech – The big back who ran for over 1200 yards as a freshman for the Hokies would be a nice pickup for many teams but is also a bit of an injury risk. After missing the entire 2009 season with a knee injury, Evans returned to form in 2010 with 854 yards and a 5.7 YPC while splitting time with Ryan Williams and David Wilson.
Why he wasn’t drafted – Doesn’t have the greatest top end speed and he is an injury concern who even admitted that “I just kind of feel like that would be a gamble just because even though my knee feels fine, you never know,” when asked why he chose to enter the NFL Draft early.
Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina – Burney is a tough CB who could help out on special teams and potentially as a nickel back sometime in the future. He played great at the Senior Bowl and recorded 3 tackles on special teams.
Why he wasn’t drafted – Burney unfortunately is short (5’9”) and slow (4.7 40 yard dash) which doesn’t equate to success for the NFL Draft.
Deunta Williams, FS, North Carolina – Williams is another player who was projected to go as highly as day two of the draft. Williams has good speed for a safety and recorded 12 interceptions in his first 3 years at UNC. He was also a 1st-team All-ACC selection with 47 tackles in each of his last 2 seasons.
Why he wasn’t drafted – He had surgery in January to repair a broken right fibula suffered in the bowl game vs. Tennessee.
Cedric Thornton, DT, Southern Arkansas - The 310 pound DT from Southern Arkansas was projected to a late second-early thrid day pick and is now set up to be a steal for the lucky team that picks him up. Thornton was a two-time Division II All-American who put on quite a show at the Senior Bowl and competed very hard against Rodney Hudson including on one occasion pushing Hudson all the way back to the dummy posing as QB for the one-on-one drill.
Why he wasn’t drafted – Two things, lack of exposure and lack of formidable opponents.
Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU – Another player projected as a late second-early third day player who fell through the cracks undrafted. Toliver led the Tigers with 41 catches for 579 yards and 5 touchdowns and was named the most outstanding offensive player at the Cotton Bowl. He has great size at 6’4”, 212 lbs and decent speed with a 4.5 40 yard dash.
Why he wasn’t drafted – He was very inconsistent in his play and never quite lived up to the hype. He was also arrested in 2010 for his involvement in a fight.
Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College (Drafted by UFL: Rd 10 Pick 51) – We all know the tremendous story of Mark Herzlich so obviously, he’s tough. He was also the 2009 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and a First Team All-American. Herzlich has great size (6’4” 244 lbs) and heart and would be a great addition to any NFL locker room.
Why he wasn’t drafted – Herzlich missed the entire 2009 season with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma so that remains a concern, but he returned in 2010 with 65 tackles, two forced fumbles, and four interceptions.
Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware - Devlin is the NFL prototype. He’s a 6’3” 225 lb QB with a live arm. Threw for 4 TD and 0 INT in his 2 years at the FBS level and exploded his senior year for 22 TD and 3 INT with over 3,000 yards passing and a 68% completion percentage on his way to Phil Steele First Team All-America honors.
Why he wasn’t drafted – His accuracy is not always consistent and he tends to get sacked too often.
Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia – Devine is quick. Very, very quick. He ran a 4.3 at his pro day along with a 4.25 20 yd shuttle run. He’s also got pretty good hands. He could be a nice change of pace back in the NFL and has the potential to blossom into a Leon Washington-like player both as a RB and KR.
Why he wasn’t drafted – Devine is very small (5’7” 175 lbs) and is lacking durability.
Special Teams Bonus Player:
Kai Forbath, K, UCLA – Forbath has been one of the best kickers in college football for awhile, winning the Lou Groza Award as a junior. He was an amazing 85-101 on FG in his career as a 4 year starter for the Bruins and finished 2nd all time in UCLA history with 357 points.
Why he wasn’t drafted – Doesn’t kick off and struggles with the trajectory on his kicks, leading to blocked kicks.