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.