Undrafted free agents to watch

May 27th, 2011 | Written by Rob Staton

We’re still many weeks away from any kind of positive conclusion to the current litigation situation in the NFL (and by positive, I mean any amount of football in 2011). Many people discuss the impact the lockout will have on the rookie class, but undoubtedly those hurt the most are the undrafted free agents. These guys need camp to fight for roster spots and prove their worth. Taking away precious practise time and possibly pre-season games could make them redundant and perhaps even a lost group.

There are several big names who went undrafted and it remains to be seen whether they’ll ever get their opportunity. DeAndre McDaniel (S, Clemson) started the year being touted as a high draft pick after an eight-pick, two-sack 2009 season. He added four more interceptions in 2010 taking his total to 15 for his college career, yet he wasn’t picked in April. Several people were surprised fellow safety Joe Lefeged (S, Rutgers) went undrafted – some graded him in the middle round region. Will Hill (S, Florida) and Deunta Williams (S, North Carolina) were other big name safeties expected to fill out a disappointing overall class at the position. None found a home.

I know the Seahawks have shown interest in several players, including Texas offensive lineman Michael Huey and Iowa linebacker Jeff Tarpinian. John Schneider has suggested the team will target an UDFA quarterback to compete for a roster spot or run the scout team, but there’s no obvious player for me that jumps out. Adam Weber (QB, Minnesota) and Adam Froman (QB, Louisville) have been touted, while Mike Coughlin (QB, Boise State) received some attention from several NFL teams before the draft.

A lack of beef on the defensive line may make 6-1, 319lbs defensive tackle Ian Williams (DT, Notre Dame) a worthy candidate to compete for a roster spot. Cedric Thornton (DT, Southern Arkansas) is another player graded as a space eater with limited pass rush qualities.

Ricardo Lockette (WR, Fort Valley State) has hinted at interest from Seattle while several relatively unknown receivers visited with the Seahawks before the draft. Terrance Toliver (WR, LSU), Dane Sanzenbacher (WR, Ohio State) and Armon Binns (WR, Cincinnati) should get the opportunity to impress, if not necessarily in Seattle. Major character issues dogged South Carolina tight end Wesyle Saunders – will he get a shot at redemption? The talent is there.

But my top ranked UDFA, based on talent if not necessarily positional importance, is Iowa punter Ryan Donahue. He stuck out as college football’s top punter the last two years and should have the chance to come in and dislodge a veteran.

Of course, those opportunities to make final cuts will be severely limited unless the lockout ends soon.

8 Responses to “Undrafted free agents to watch”

  1. Bill Bobaggins says:

    I’d be interested in seeing John Clay (RB out of Wisconsin) brought in. I also like Mark Herzlich. And I wouldn’t mind seeing Mitch Mustain brought into camp…I still think that he might be a diamond in the rough.

  2. Ben H says:

    Hey Rob. Just found this vid of Bruce Irvin vs NC State…
    Thought you might be interested. Dude’s an animal.

  3. Will says:

    Martin Parker (DT, Richmond) would also be a good pickup for the Seahawks. Not good enough against the run game to be a starter, but should make a solid rotational DT who can rush the passer.

  4. Hawksfan33 says:

    Also seems as though we are interested in Andre Holmes.. 6’4 1/2 WR out of Hillsdale…


  5. akki says:

    McDaniel was supposedly done in by a busted wrist that some NFL teams think will prevent him from contributing immediately. Deunta Williams also had an injury issue. I wonder if guys like this are benefiting a little from the lockout though, as they aren’t falling behind their roster spot competition while they recover from injury.

    I’ve gotten the impression over the last few years that safety is the position most subject to post-draft comments like “We got a steal with ____ in the 6th round, he was projected to go as high as the 3rd” and “I can’t believe ____ wasn’t drafted, he was supposed to go in the 4th-5th round.” I don’t think it’s the players themselves falling as opposed to a supply/demand issue. In other words, you might have 10 safeties graded about equally to go in rounds 3-5, but maybe only 7 or 8 teams wanting to draft a safety in those rounds. I also feel that safety (especially SS) and RB have the smallest gap in quality between a 3rd round pick and a UDFA.

    I would take a chance on Williams, Thornton, and Parker at DT. We should be able to attract a decent UDFA at DT with the lack of depth there on the current roster. I’m also curious about the Stanford O-Line guys Chase Beeler, Andrew Phillips, and Derek Hall. They all went undrafted due to athleticism issues, but the unit was so dominant that it has to be more than just Martin and DeCastro behind it. One more possibility is WR Vidal Hazleton, who was a top prospect out of high school and played for Carroll at USC. His injury (bad) luck make him seem like an offensive version of Josh Pinkard.

  6. Jim Q. says:

    Should be worth a look-see:

    Cedrick Thornton, DT, South Arkansas, 6-3-5/8, 299

    Thornton was a first team All-America pick on the Associated Press Little All-America, AFCA, D2Football.com and Daktronics teams. He also was both a Football Gazette and Daktronics first team All-Super Region 2 honoree, was a first team All-Gulf South Conference selection and was the Muleriders’ MVP. Thornton headlined SAU’s defense with 80 tackles (49 unassisted) and led the nation with 23 tackles for 84 yards in loss, including 8.5 sacks for minus 48 yards. He also forced two fumbles, blocked two kicks and had two quarterback hurries.

    Thornton finished third on the team this season with 52 total tackles (26 unassisted), with 13 going for 35 yards in loss, including 1.5 sacks for minus seven yards. The senior led the squad with five quarterback hurries, and forced one fumble and had one pass breakup. Thornton’s 13 tackles behind the line currently leads the league and is ranked 16th nationally in averaging 1.63 per game.

  7. Norm M says:

    I am hoping we pick up a bruiser of a full back. Anyone of note who is available? It seems to be a position that has gone by the wayside with many teams and a chance to add value in an UDFR. We definitely lacked that aspect in our running game last season.