Analyzing Rookie UDFA Landing Spots
Every year a significant amount of talented former collegiate stars who don't hear their names called during the draft end up signing as priority free agents immediately following the conclusion of the NFL draft. Many of these players end up having success at the NFL level, some even go on to become Pro Bowlers. Some past UDFA's who went on to have successful careers are Wes Welker, Kurt Warner, Priest Holmes, Antonio Gates,Tony Romo, Warren Moon, and Arian Foster. Last year there were twenty runningbacks drafted Phillip Lindsay was not one of them, but by the time the season ended he was second in rookie rushing yards. So needless to say there is plenty of talent left over at the end of the draft, and even the leagues top scouts whiff on a player every now and then. So don't get hung up on a players draft capital as it can often be deceiving. In this article I will be examining the top players who went undrafted to see if they hold any dynasty value.
Tyree Jackson, Buffalo Bills - Many had Jackson ranked as a top five quarterback leading up to the draft surprisingly he went undrafted and landed not far from where he played his college ball in Buffalo. Despite being immensely talented Jackson finds himself on a crowded depth chart behind Josh Allen, Matt Barkley, and Derek Anderson.
Nick Fitzgerald, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - This was somewhat of a shocker for most as many had a fourth or fifth round draft grade on the talented Mississippi State quarterback. He ended up signing with Tampa after the draft concluded which is a solid landing spot. Behind starter Jameis Winston, is only Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffen which leaves the door open for the possibility of Fitzgerald eventually becoming the primary backup.
Jake Browning, Minnesota Vikings - Browning was one of my favorite sleeper quarterbacks of the 2019 draft class, I fully expected a team to take a late flier on him but wasn't overly surprised to see him go undrafted either. I think the landing spot in Minny is great as in my opinion he is the second most talented QB on the roster, and the most talented quarterback on the team not making thirty million dollars per season.
Brett Rypien, Denver Broncos - The Broncos signing Boise State star quarterback as an UDFA was an excellent score, and is great landing spot for Rypien. It's highly unlikely that he sees any playing time as a rookie but with Joe Flacco almost certainly leaving town after this season Rypien may be inline to backup Drew Lock in 2020. Don't rule out Rypien challenging for the starting job at some point next year.
Kyle Shurmur, Kansas City Chiefs - As you may know Kyle Shurmur is the son of Pat, the head coach of the New York Giants who was a coordinator in the league for over a decade. I thought this fact alone would lead to a team taking a late round flier on him due to his incredible knowledge of the game and quarterback position. Shurmur joins a crowded KC depth chart so his value is low as best case scenario is future backup.
Karan Higdon, Houston Texans - The talented Michigan product finds himself in an excellent situation landing in Houston as he joins a relatively unsettled depth chart. Which includes starter Lamar Miller, disappointing third year pro D'Onta Foreman, and former Indy draft pick Josh Ferguson. There is no reason why Higdon couldn't work his way into the backup role behind veteran Miller.
Alex Barnes, Tennessee Titans - Barnes the former Kansas State star landed in arguably the best situation of all of the undrafted free agent runningbacks landing in Tennessee. Barnes has a lot of the same traits as starter Derek Henry and is more talented than every other back on the roster except Dion Lewis. I fully expect Barnes to be the Titans primary backup by the 2020 season, putting him an injury away from starting.
Devine Ozigbo, New Orleans Saints - I was truly surprised that Ozigbo went undrafted as his tape from Nebraska was excellent. His landing spot in New Orleans is disappointing as they have a stud starting back Alvin Kamara, and brought in Latavius Murray to back Kamara up. I don't expect much from Ozigbo as he landed in a terrible situation with the Saints.
James Williams, Kansas City Chiefs - Williams finds himself in an excellent situation with a bunch of uncertainty on the Chiefs depth chart. Currently they have Damien Williams, Carlos Hyde, Darwin Thompson, and Darrel Williams which is a bunch of plodders in my opinion. Williams was great during his time at Washington State and has a great shot at playing time at the NFL level.
Bruce Anderson, Tampa Bat Buccaneers - There may be no runningback depth chart in the NFL as thin as the Bucs. As they only have Peyton Barber who is mediocre at best, 2018 second rounder Ronald Jones, and former Bruce Arians RB's Andre Ellington, and Kerwynn Williams. As you can see there is nobody entrenched as the starter so a solid training camp and preseason and Anderson may find himself receiving carries.
Emanuel Hall, Chicago Bears - This one was truly shocking, many draft experts had Hall with as high as a third round draft grade, I don't think anyone expected him to go undrafted. Chicago snapped him up imminently after the draft, Hall has the talent to eventually become an excellent complimentary receiver for the Bears. You will have to be patient if you draft him as he's currently behind A-Rob, Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel.
Anthony Johnson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - One of my favorite sleepers heading into the draft I was disappointed when Johnson wasn't selected, so I'm glad he will get a shot with the Bucs. Johnson joins a Tampa receiving core that is quite thin after Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. With first round bust Breshad Perriman, and fellow UDFA DeMarkus Lodge. If Johnson impresses throughout camp he very well could earn snaps as a rookie.
Stanley Morgan, Cincinnati Bengals - After completing a successful collegiate career at Nebraska it was somewhat surprising to me that Morgan was not drafted. Morgan joins a Bengals roster full of long term uncertainty at the wide out position, with only wildcards John Ross, Cody Core, Auden Tate, Josh Malone, and Alex Erickson. It's crowded but a path to playing time early in his career is definitely a possibility for Morgan.
David Sills, Buffalo Bills - Despite going undrafted it didn't take long for Sills a former West Virginia star to land on an NFL roster as Buffalo signed him. I don't think their is a thinner WR group in the league with the Bills only rostering. John Brown, Zay Jones, Robert Foster, Cole Beasley and Andre Roberts, that is an uninspiring group to say the least. Which means a path to playing time and dynasty relevance is there for Sills.
Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins - The former Colorado State star finds himself in a great spot despite not hearing his name called on draft weekend. By landing in Miami he joins a fairly thin wide out depth chart with only DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson, Brice Butler, and Ricardo Louis. There is definately opportunity for playing time early on in his career as he possesses an incredible size speed combination.
Dax Raymond, Chicago Bears - The Bears scored another incredibly talented rookie after the conclusion of the draft in tightend Dax Raymond. I was quite surprised that Raymond went undrafted as he was an absolute stud during his time at Utah State. In joining Chicago he finds himself behind Trey Burton, and Adam Shaheen, which means he is already third on the depth chart, and may even see the field in his rookie season.
Jerome Washington, Arizona Cardinals - Washington is another player who finds himself in a potentially great situation despite not being drafted. The Cardnials are thin at TE with only one season wonder Rick Seals-Jones, and perennial injury concern free agent acquisition Charles Clay. Washington was excellent during his time at Rutgers and plays as a duel threat tightend with exceptional receiving skills.
C.J. Conrad, New York Giants - Conrad is an incredibly talented player who excels as a blocker and receiver so it was puzzling to me that he went undrafted. However he landed on his feet signing with the Giants shortly after the draft, joining a bunch of bunch of unknowns and starter Evan Engram. I fully expect Conrad to make the final roster and is essentially an injury away from seeing playing time as a rookie.
Matt Sokol, Los Angeles Chargers - The former Michigan State star ended up signing with the Chargers in the days following the draft. Sokol joins a very thin group of tightends with the Chargers with the exception of Hunter Henry who is coming off a torn ACL. Currently ahead of Sokol on the depth chart is only blocking TE Virgil Green, converted receiver Vince Mayle, and unknowns Sean Culkin, and Daniel Helm. So as you can see a path to playing time is there for the undrafted rookie.
Keenan Brown, Los Angeles Rams - The Rams are another team that added a quality tightend with a solid college resume (Texas State) without having to spend a draft pick. The Rams frequently rotated Tyler Higbee, and Gerald Everett, last season but behind them two the depth chart is wide open. Brown is only an injury away from significant playing time as a rookie and holds deep dynasty value as a result.