Tuesday, May 03, 2011

2011 NFL Draft; Undrafted Free Agents

Right. With the draft done and dusted it's time to take a peek at some of the undrafted free agents left over. The point should be made that by no means will any or all of these guys end up in the NFL. The UFL is currently holding its draft and they're expected to target some of the free agents left over by the NFL. Those players would then have a to make a choice.

If they sign with a UFL team then they get tied to a contract and basically forgo the chance to enter the NFL in the near future. But then there's the promise of guaranteed pay in the coming months, while the NFL continues to dick about trying to cut up its $9 billion pie, and even if they miraculously solve that issue soon, undrafted free agents are already outside shots to make rosters.

Choices, choices.

Now what was it that the lawyers formerly known as the NFLPA were trying to argue? Something about unfair monopolies? No choice for players etc? No chance for them to maximise earnings? Cocks.

Anyway, on with the show. Before we begin, I should point out that Bloggers spell check is up the creek again for some reason, and I also made the fatal error of assuming that this new editing layout that Blogger introduced would have no trouble coping with the fairly standard and mundane task of copying and pasting something.

I was wrong.

So if the layout is all up the creek, blame Google not me. After all, they make billions per year and are supposed to be competent at this whole computers thing. I rather thought that was their forte.

Also, to save me tagging this on at the end, next up after this is for me to start breaking down the teams and issuing draft grades. In a semi-random selection process I did earlier, the NFC South came up first. Alphabetically then, we'll be kicking it off with the Atlanta Falcons.

And here's you undrafted free agents.


Scott Tolzien. Ball placement is sometimes a little questionable, but overall he's not a bad QB. Stands in the pocket well and his decision making is pretty good. You can't tell me someone like the Titans or the Dolphins wouldn't benefit from giving the kid a shot.
Pat Devlin. Some errant throws at times and ball placement was really not that great. Might suffer the dreaded “spread” curse, having difficulty with the more conventional style of professional offenses. Turned up 30 minutes late for his own pro day and then had a torrid time just to add insult to injury.
Jerrod Johnson. Mixed view really. On the one hand he has great numbers and seems like a good QB. On the other, you notice that most of his big completions involved wide open receivers and even then some of the passes weren't all that well thrown. I don’t see on film many of those tight window throws that will be the bread and butter at the next level. Can run though.


- Damien Berry. Quick, with some nice moves in the open field. Has potential as well for his ability to come out of the backfield and get downfield as a receiver where he has good hands and transitions instantly from receiver to running back with the ball in his hands.
Brandon Saine. Quick kid who manages to keep his pads low,  has good vision and a good burst in the open field to separate from defenders.
Derrick Locke. Displays good patience at times which is always handy for a running back. Great turn of speed. Has utility as a good receiver out of the backfield.
Noel Devine. Has great speed and agility, but I'm still worried by his tendency to run to the sidelines (as opposed to the holy 'North/South'). I saw a Titans game involving Chris Johnson where he did exactly the same thing, just tracking along the line of scrimmage but never turning up field and it hurt his team badly. Not sure how well Devine will make the transition. Of course he could become on of those annoyingly nicknamed 'home run hitters'. Or worse 'A dynamic playmaker'!!!
Mario Fannin. Big and strong, but that’s about it. As far as his vision he’s “blind”. Might find some use on a rush heavy team like the Jets as a fullback.
Nic Grigsby. Cutting ability is excellent, which allows him to thread through the wash of potential tacklers and into the open field. Good instincts. But straight line speed is a problem though and he gets caught far too easily. Maybe just an issue with cutting some weight. Worth a chance in camp.
Vai Taua. Good speed and cutting in the open field. Benefited perhaps from an option system where defenders were put in a bind, but his skill set should transfer well to the pro’s. More of a project. Stick him on the practice squad for a year.
Graig Cooper. Not bad at all. Pretty quick. Has utility on special teams as well. Vision is pretty good.
Armando Allen. Average back. UFL here we come.
Barron Batch. Lame. Slow. Even the UFL won't take him.
Donald Buckram. Not bad. Pretty quick. Lateral cutting at speed is good. Another nascent project.
C.J. Gable. UFL quality.
Gino Gordon. Has a blend of patience, lateral speed and good agility. Worth a tryout.


- Jeff Maehl. Impressed in the drills at the combine, has good speed and impressive hands. Really surprised someone didn't take a shot during the draft.
- Terrence Toliver. Not sold overall on Toliver but his run after the catch is quite impressive to watch and let's face it, Wes Welker has made a (resurgent) career on the back of such skills. In the right scheme as a slot receiver? Who knows.
Tori Gurley. Reasonable hands. A big bodied receiver who makes some good adjustments to the ball. It's hard to put into words, but I'm expecting him to do well.
DeAndre Brown. Had some nice catches on tape but a little clumsy looking at times. Run blocking is terrible. Not a great route runner and seems a little afraid of contact. Overall a disappointing package.
Dane Sanzenbacher. Nice route running, good technique. Hands are great. Expected he would go late/undrafted and be an absolute bargain. Well he's gone undrafted and yeah, I still think he can be a bargain.
Mark Dell. Route running not bad and has some good moves in the open field, but does he bring it all together in the NFL? Not convinced.
- Lester Jean. I've said it before, I'll say it again; there are true route technicians like Jerry Rice - then there are physical gifts like Jean. May not be the most crisp route runner in the world, but he's more of your Randy Moss style, "run down the field and we'll put it up there for you" type receivers. Outstanding over the shoulder catcher.
Jock Sanders. To be honest, his size will probably preclude him from being anything more than a slot receiver, but to be fair he has good balance and speed.
B.J. Frazier. Tough kid, not afraid to go over the middle and take a hit or get stuck in and run block on a safety or linebacker. Greasy fast in pads. Has great route technique and makes great adjustments under the ball. Gutted that he didn't get drafted. Someone has to give him a shot.


- Weslye Saunders. Haven't seen enough on film yet (still), but what I did see was ok, a little about average. Too early to give a definitive answer.
- Andre Smith. Hands are ok, but not a lot else going for him. Distinctly run of the mill, average.
- Collin Franklin. A much better pass catcher than he is run blocker. Pretty quick off the line and with good hands. Route running is ok.
- Jeffery Anderson. Speed = not good! Spent most of his time in college split out from the line in a spread offense, so it's difficult to judge how well he'd adapt to things like run blocking a D-end or Outside line backer. Hands are very good though in all fairness and his route running isn’t too bad either, especially when he's sent over the middle. Maybe there's a slot for him on some team as a second tight end in a two TE set?
- Colin Cochart. Very aggressive run blocker, with a great attitude. Hounds his man relentlessly and produced plenty of pancake blocks. Excellent route runner as well, clever with his route adjustments, especially when his QB gets into trouble. Has great hands. An all around excellent tight end who should have been given a seventh round sniff somewhere. Has the combination of skills to make a great impact on whoever (eventually) picks him up.


- Joel Figueroa. Guard. Expected him to end up here and surprise, surprise. Likely not top of any one's list of phone calls, but I came away from watching Figueroa pretty impressed. Fingers crossed that someone will give him a shot.
- Justin Boren. Guard. Again, not a surprise he went undrafted as he wasn't really on any ones radar. Strong though. Gets great leverage at times in his blocks and finishes each one off properly to the whistle, which is a praise worthy trait in my book.
- Derek Hall. Tackle. Run blocking is okay, but pass technique is a tad dubious. Doesn’t punch particularly well which usually leads to him getting smothered or run around.
- Josh Davis. Terrible! His technique is awful and every snap looks like he just woke up and has no idea what’s going on.
- Kristofer O’Dowd. Center. Pass blocking is ok, but run blocking is bad. Seems to really lack any appreciable strength, especially in the lower body. I would frankly rather step up at center myself than have him as the anchor of my entire O-line.
- Jake Kirkpatrick. Center. Big, strong, mean. All of those are valuable tools for a center. Really pushes hard and works hard on the field. Good pass and run blocking. All of those traits add up to him being well worth a shot in camp.
- Tim Barnes. Center. About average. Has some good plays on film, but also some bad. Doesn't seem to be particularly strong for his size which is a concern.
- Alex Linnenkohl. Center. Pretty good. Stout up the middle on pass protection. Sometimes was shrugged off by a good swim move, but generally his pass protection was good and his run blocking was aggressive.
Ryan Pugh. Center. I'll say this again; either he’s bad or he was a paid shill for the other team in the game I watched. Beaten so easily at times. Not my cup of tea at Center to use a turn of phrase.
- Colin Baxter. Center. Tries hard, but just sucks. Lacks balance and punch, gets knocked back too easily. Shame though because he obviously puts in a lot of effort in and tries hard for his team. Might have had a shot if he could have been brought in for voluntary workouts and training camp, but the lockout has denied him that shot at getting an offseason of good coaching.
- Ryan Bartholomew. Center. Pretty strong and certainly got plenty of practice run blocking in college! Generally his pass protection is good, with good leverage. Has a great burst off the line to get to the second level when needed in the running game. Has promise with a bit of coaching, but at the minute he's a little one dimensional. Again, another for whom the lockout causes a serious setback.
- Chase Beeler. Center. Pretty darn strong. His technique was outstanding in all phases, both run and pass. Has a great awareness of what’s happening around him in terms of stunts and twists etc. His blocking technique demonstrates the nuance of understanding where he fits in to each play, as he manoeuvres (that's how it's spelt over here) to get his hips into position between the defender and the play. Head and shoulders the best technical blocker I've seen from this years draft class. Fantastic player and I have no comprehension as to why he went undrafted. None.
- Ryan McMahon. Center. Technique was bad. One of the dreaded “waist benders”. Gets pushed around far too easily to be of much use at the next level.
- Beau Warren. Center. Technique was shoddy and beaten far too often. If he makes it into the pros, he’ll be a magnet for holding flags.
- Thomas Claiborne. Guard. Run blocking  was very good. He's very strong and aggressive. Pass blocking sucks on the other hand. Mainly a balance issue, or a lack there of. Over extension should be his middle name.
- Bryant Browning. Guard. Hilariously bad to watch. It’s like car crash TV. He looks like someone competing on a game show who has no idea what the hell the game is about. I'll be amazed if he even makes it into the UFL, let alone the NFL.
- Michael Huey. Guard. Pretty good. Good vision, knows when to switch blocks. Technique is good, using the shoulder and head well to get between defender and gap in the running game. All over pretty solid. I personally thought he was destined to go middle to late, and said that for that price I’d be more than happy to take him. Now he's a freebie, I'd be even more happy.


- Kenny Rowe. Lively kid, keeps running right till the whistle. Good use of the hands, though nothing sensational. Could really have used the offseason time with a coaching staff. Another lockout victim.
- Adrian Moten. Tough guy, quite smart. He's reasonably quick and reads plays well, overall pretty good for an undrafted LB.
- Michael Morgan. Pretty quick off the snap, has a good initial burst. Tackling is ok. I could see him being picked up and spending a year on a practice squad learning how to develop as an outside rushing backer.
- Mario Harvey. Just a run of the mill linebacker who sometimes isn't very aware of what’s happening around him. Seen some good tackles, but too often he’s just getting blocked. One source I've seen described hims as being great at shedding blocks, but I strongly beg to differ.
- Mark Herzlich. The big surprise! Everyone thought Herzlich would go at some point and he's easily the biggest focus of undrafted media attention righ now. But to be honest, and putting aside the heart warming story of his successful battle with cancer, he's really a mixed bag. His pass defense is great and he looks right at home playing in space. But if you want a run stopping giant then don’t touch. He's technique just isn't there and when he comes down hill to help he just just gets lost among the wash and struggles to make a contribution. If someone can take him on as a weakside backer in a 4-3 then there's hope, providing they can show him the ropes with regards to issues like backside contain on running plays.
- Scott Lutrus. Not the greatest pass rushing LB in the world, but pretty mobile from sideline to sideline. Alert. Good in pass coverage. Good, physical tackler. Might make a middle backer yet. I see something of Mike Singletary in him, if that makes sense. Perhaps not quite on that level. Has promise.
- Alex Wujciak. At times Wujciak looks hilariously slow. Maybe he's just playing with a lot of really fast people. Oddly that actually worked in his favour on occasion, as he is unlikely to overshoot a play! Seems pretty smart and alert to what's happening around him. A good tackler. I described him previously as "the kind of player you’d look at in free agency, maybe bring to camp for a trial". Well, here we are!
- Obi Ezeh. Has a nice turn of speed moving laterally. Play recognition is quick which is an asset. Hard tackler, but not really much of a rusher to be frank.


- Kendric Burney. Missed out likely due to character issues, but then if Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin are considered fit for the NFL, so should Burney be. Tackling is a major issue, far too inconsistent, so that would have to be worked on heavily. Surprisingly good pass coverage though for a little guy. Height (5ft 9) might have been a factor, but I felt on film it was never a serious issue.
- James Dockery. Personally I thought his pass coverage was excellent. Can stick with his receiver all the way down the field. Plays the ball in the air reasonably well. Perhaps it's because I don’t have a problem with corners batting down balls they clearly/aren't likely to, catch. Every scout and analyst constantly maligns the ball skills of corners, but it you watch enough tape I'll wager there are more big passes, important passes and touchdowns given up each week in the NFL because of corners trying to catch passes they could have just bat down, than interceptions that could have been had just for the want of better ball skills. If you're confused then don't worry, that sounded a lot clearer in my head than it seems to have come out on (virtual) paper. did I mention quick, agile, and reads the play really well? C'mon San Fran.
- Darrin Walls. Didn’t see a whole lot, but seems quite good at adjusting to the ball in the air on deep passes.
- Darian Hagan. Good speed and good route and play recognition. Plays ball in the air pretty well and indeed generally a good corner. Worth a look for someone.
- Da’Mon Merkerson. Not bad playing in the trail position, sometimes loses his receiver a little though. In fairness he showed on film the ability to recover from such mishaps and find the ball. Broke up plenty of deep passes. Has raw talent. But raw is the operative word. Again, woe for the lockout.


- DeAndre McDaniel. Showed some good instincts. Plays the ball well in the air but tackling is a little underwhelming.
- David Sims. Coverage is ok. Has some speed.
- Michael O’Connell. Good tackler and good in run support. Pass coverage ok.
- Davonte Shannon. Tackling is very good. Run support is very good. Pass coverage is bad. Doesn’t read the routes in front of him very well and always appears to be a step behind on pass plays.
- Byron Landor. Excellent strong safety prospect. Speed is good, tackling was superb. Recognised plays early and came down to make the hit. A very good prospect considering he’s a freebie. Thoroughly impressive.
- Collin Zych. Not bad at all. His tackling is ok. Comes up quickly in run support. Reads the quarterback reasonably well.
- Alex Johnson. Good speed and showed good range. A hard hitter. Worth a shot bringing him into camp.


- Pierre Allen. Speed is ok. Use of the hands was generally good. Has a spin move up his sleeve! Run support not bad as he tends to keep his eyes in the backfield and see what’s going on. Can shed blockers when he needs to. Came away with the impression he was holding a little back though. From what he showed on film he should be making more of an impact.

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