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UDFA Rookie Signings & Class Rankings: NFC (2023 Fantasy Football)

UDFA Rookie Signings & Class Rankings: NFC (2023 Fantasy Football)

I affectionately refer to the UDFA carousel – after the completion of NFL Draft Day 3 on Saturday night – as the “Dessert draft.” This is, in essence, where Rounds 8-20 take place at warp-speed. And behind closed doors. Undrafted players make up roughly one-fifth of NFL rosters – UDFA provide the NFL with more value and snaps than the sixth- and seventh-rounds combined.

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The list of UDFA Hall of Famers includes Kurt Warner, John Randle, Warren Moon and Dick “Night Train” Lane. The UDFA ranks brought us Tony Romo, Doug Baldwin, James Harrison, Wes Welker, Antonio Gates, Arian Foster, Cameron Wake and Chris Harris. Austin Ekeler and Adam Thielen are among a large list of UDFA-made-good currently playing in the NFL.

Let’s dive into how the NFC did in this year’s “Dessert Draft.” The AFC is coming later this week.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Kit

UDFA Rookie Signings & Class Rankings

Note: Ranking in parenthesis indicates how each team’s UDFA class ranked overall in the NFL.

1. Seattle Seahawks (1)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
179 WR26 Matt Landers Arkansas Jeff Janis 6043 200 9.85
253 FB2 Griffin Hebert Louisiana Tech Dan Vitale 6014 239 10
293 WR40 C.J. Johnson East Carolina Vince Mayle 6015 224 3.82
308 WR43 Jake Bobo UCLA Ben Skowronek 6040 206 2.61
309 CB42 Lance Boykin Coastal Carolina Tharold Simon 6020 200 3.4
317 TE16 Noah Gindorff NDSU Quinn Sypniewski 6055 263
334 CB44 Arquon Bush Cincinnati Rashad Fenton 6000 187 3
353 LB34 Michael Ayers Ashland Jake Hummel 6015 223 8.71
365 QB18 Holton Ahlers East Carolina Tim Tebow 6031 227 3.5
381 S29 Ty Okada Montana State Julian Blackmon 5106 193 9.15
394 CB52 James Campbell Montana State Troy Pride Jr. 5113 183 8.43
423 LB40 Patrick O’Connell Montana Su’a Cravens 6011 227 8.07
425 LS2 Robert Soderholm VMI Ross Matiscik 5112 241 6.8
443 ED51 MJ Anderson Iowa State LJ Collier 6025 269 3.42
460 DL36 Robert Cooper Florida State Jerrell Powe 6015 309
472 S36 Christian Young Arizona Donnie Nickey 6010 221 3.21
482 DL37 Jonah Tavai San Diego St. Mike Daniels 5101 283 4.95
QB28 Reece Udinski Richmond Stephen Morris 6035 224 2.51
RB62 Shaun Shivers Indiana Donnel Pumphrey 5051 187 1.38
WR74 Tyjon Lindsey Oregon State CT Thomas 5080 171 8.73
TE48 Caleb Warren Rhode Island Garrett Graham 6022 244 5.56
LB55 Cam Bright Washington Jatavis Brown 6000 228 8.41
S55 Mo Osling III UCLA Lee Hightower 6007 195 6.01
S56 Jonathan Sutherland Penn State Tony George 5111 202 7.55

Seattle brought in a metric ton of talent in the draft – four prospects in my pre-draft top-60, and six in my top-125. They were only getting started. The Seahawks were the big winners of this year’s UDFA free-for-all.

The Seahawks signed 23 UDFA that I had rankings on pre-draft, tying for the NFL-lead. But the quality was even better than the quantity – Seattle’s signing of 17 players on my 500-player big board easily led the NFL. In my ranking system, there was a larger qualitative difference between Seattle’s UDFA class and the No. 2 class (Tampa Bay) than four different franchises’ UDFA groups scored in sum.

This class had a little bit of everything. The first thing that jumped out about Seattle’s strategy was its hyper-aggression in the UDFA receiver market. WRs Matt Landers, C.J. Johnson, and Jake Bobo were all top-12 UDFA WRs on my board. Seattle’s starting-three of DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are locked in. But jobs are open behind that trio.

Landers, Johnson, and Bobo are three totally different flavors to try out at camp: Landers is the size/athleticism upside shot, Johnson is a big slot with strong collegiate production who lacks athleticism, and Bobo is a big boundary receiver who will need acumen and polish to overcome a lack of quickness and speed.

FB Griffin Hebert is a deep-sleeper. He has a versatile skill set, and he proved to be a souped-up athlete during pre-draft testing. In an NFL that is moving more towards versatility and 12-personnel base offenses, don’t be surprised if Hebert eventually sees the field as a TE/H-Back/FB hybrid. A year on the practice squad might be coming first.

A sneaky candidate to make the Week 1 roster is DE MJ Anderson. Seattle had an acute edge-rusher need heading into Draft Weekend. With Derick Hall being deployed as an OLB, the Seahawks only have three active DE on the roster, including Day 3 pick Mike Morris. The Seahawks will carry four on the Week 1 roster, which might make Anderson a favorite to win a gig heading into camp.

2. Tampa Bay Bucs (2)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
155 S12 Kaevon Merriweather Iowa Jaylinn Hawkins 6000 205 7.87
170 WR25 Rakim Jarrett Maryland KJ Osborn 5116 192 8.41
194 RB17 Sean Tucker Syracuse Felix Jones 5092 207
206 LB17 Jeremy Banks Tennessee Micah Kiser 6010 232 8.96
305 CB41 Keenan Isaac Alabama State Johnthan Banks 6014 185 7.08
314 OT26 Luke Haggard Indiana Matt McCants 6061 302 8.26
318 S25 Christian Izien Rutgers Calvin Lowry 5086 199 8.54
354 OT29 Silas Dzansi Virginia Tech Le’Raven Clark 6052 323 7.42
390 RB33 Ronnie Brown Shepherd Trung Canidate 5110 187 9.35
WR89 Kade Warner Kansas State Chris Collins 6007 203 3.23
WR101 Taye Barber TCU Mike Harley 5095 180 3.71
OL48 Eric Douglas South Carolina Cody Wallace 6042 295 5.73
OL68 Chris Murray Oklahoma Omar Smith 6014 294 2.85
LB50 Brandon Bouyer-Randle UConn Carter Coughlin 6024 238 9.09
LB67 Dwayne Boyles USF Boseko Lokombo 6020 227 7.33

Between S Kaevon Merriweather, WR Rakim Jarrett, RB Sean Tucker, and LB Jeremy Banks, the Bucs signed four UDFA prospects who were in my pre-draft top-206.

Jarrett is a former five-star recruit who has all the makings of an NFL contributor if he can correct his drop issues. The Bucs clearly think Jarrett has a strong chance to make the Week 1 roster after shelling out $225,000 guaranteed.

I was surprised Merriweather went undrafted. His agents made a smart call signing with the Buccaneers, who had only three safeties on the active roster prior to his signing. Like Jarrett, Merriweather will enter training camp with a strong chance to make the roster.

RB Tucker, similarly, made a good landing-spot decision. He received a guaranteed $155,000 to sign with the Bucs. Tampa Bay was expected to select an RB in the draft but didn’t. The depth chart currently consists of Rachaad White, Chase Edmonds, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Patrick Laird.

Tucker’s pre-draft process was complicated after he was shut down at the NFL Combine upon being medically red-flagged for cardiac health issues. Tucker was also held out of Syracuse’s Pro Day in March. He eventually did a shortened workout for scouts on the Monday of draft week, but it wasn’t enough to get him drafted. If Tucker can stay on the field, he could be a UDFA gem – he’s one of the most explosive backs in this class.

WR Kade Warner is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. At Kansas State last year, he had 45 receptions for 456 yards and five TD. He might snag a practice squad spot on the never-count-us-out Warner DNA, if for no other reason.

3. Dallas Cowboys (3)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
145 OT14 Earl Bostick Jr. Kansas Will Beatty 6055 309 9.42
185 FB1 Hunter Luepke North Dakota State Andy Janovich 6012 230 9.55
214 LB19 Isaiah Land Florida A&M Chris Garrett 6035 236 8.6
227 WR31 Jalen Moreno-Cropper Fresno State Dede Westbrook 5111 172 6.25
296 CB39 Myles Brooks Louisiana Tech Iman Marshall 6010 201 6.43
312 OL28 TJ Bass Oregon Ben Bredeson 6041 317 8.2
324 ED37 Tyrus Wheat Mississippi St. Ronnie Perkins 6022 263 7.18
351 WR50 David Durden West Florida Ricardo Louis 6014 204 9.59
419 ED48 Durrell Johnson Liberty Joseph Ossai 6032 251 6.87
WR86 Chris Coleman Cal Poly ArDarius Stewart 5102 192 6.98
TE33 Princeton Fant Tennessee Jeremiah Hall 6012 243
CB88 D’Angelo Mandell BYU Ashton Lampkin 6002 189 2.7

Nobody outspends the Cowboys in the UDFA process and they were back at it this year. This is the fifth year I’ve ranked UDFA classes. During that span Dallas has finished No. 9 (2019), No. 2 (2021), and No. 1 twice (2020 and 2022) – in addition to this year’s bronze medal.

The Cowboys walked away from the Saturday night UDFA melee with eight signings inside my pre-draft top-351. That list is led by OT Earl Bostick Jr., FB Hunter Luepke, LB Isaiah Land, and WR Jalen Moreno-Cropper.

In a shallow OT class, it was a big surprise that Bostick wasn’t drafted. He’s a superb athlete (94th-percentile) in an NFL frame. The Cowboys won the Saturday-night bidding war for him with $220,000 guaranteed. Bostick allowed only one sack as KU’s left tackle in 2022.

And I’m still scratching my head over Luepke not getting picked. He was this class’ premier FB/H-Back prospect. In a shallow Dallas backfield that doesn’t have another player like him, Luepke has a strong shot to make the Week 1 roster. He’ll help out on special teams until he’s ready for a role with the offense.

Land is the reigning Buck Buchanan winner (FCS Defensive PoTY) after piling up a ridiculous 19 sacks and 25.5 TFL last year. He’s a rail-thin edge who Dallas will attempt to bulk-up as they teach him off-ball duties. Land could be competing with Mississippi State LB Tyrus Wheat, whose UDFA deal included a $20,000 signing bonus and a $185,000 salary guarantee.

4. Detroit Lions (4)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
146 CB21 Starling Thomas V UAB DaRon Bland 5101 190 6.63
176 RB15 Mohamed Ibrahim Minnesota Khalil Herbert 5080 203
212 S16 Brandon Joseph Notre Dame Husain Abdullah 6000 202 6.47
263 OT23 Ryan Swoboda UCF Cornelius Lucas 6094 309 9.33
295 OT25 Connor Galvin Baylor Geron Christian 6066 293 5.35
329 DL26 Cory Durden NC State Shamar Stephen 6040 290 4.96
389 WR54 Keytaon Thompson Virginia Damarkus Lodge 6037 218 5.36
431 WR58 Chase Cota Oregon Tai Streets 6032 201 9.34
446 LB41 Trevor Nowaske Saginaw Valley State Malik Jefferson 6024 237 9.86
481 RB41 Chris Smith Louisiana Jordan Canzeri 5085 194 5.52
QB24 Adrian Martinez Kansas State Khalil Tate 6017 221 9.46
DL40 Chris Smith Notre Dame Tommy Togai 6012 302 8.46
LB59 Isaac Darkangelo Illinois Drew White 6003 227 7.16
S58 Xavier Bell Portland State Luther Kirk 6012 194 6.61

The Lions were very active on Saturday night, signing five prospects in my pre-draft top-300. Detroit clearly emphasizes this phase and is looking to replicate the success it has had with recent UDFA success stories like CB Jerry Jacobs and TE Brock Wright.

UAB CB Starling Thomas V slipped through the cracks due to playing in the G5 and being on the smaller side, but this is a clever signing by the Lions. Detroit was heavily linked to corners throughout the pre-draft process, particularly after trading CB Jeff Okudah – but they never actually took one.

Thomas is a polished three-year starter with 4.38 40-yard-dash speed. He finished No. 4 among FBS CBs last year in forced incompletion rate. Thomas has a strong chance to break camp with the team considering its weak and thin corner room.

The Lions made another strong addition to their secondary in S Joseph. Joseph was a three-year starter and 2020 first-team All-American at Northwestern. He didn’t wow during his final campaign at Notre Dame, and his pre-testing underwhelmed. But Joseph should stick around because of his reliability in center field.

RB Ibrahim was ludicrously productive at Minnesota, rushing for a career 4,668 yards and 51 TD. He’s small, isn’t an elite athlete, and isn’t much of a receiver, the reason teams looked away as the draft was going.

But Ibrahim will produce as a meat-and-potatoes early-down back at the next level if he ever gets the shot. Ibrahim made a curious decision to sign with a Lions team that has Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery. But the Lions gave Ibrahim $100,000 reasons to overlook that fact.

5. Minnesota Vikings (7)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
127 LB9 Ivan Pace Jr. Cincinnati Denzel Perryman 5105 231 5.71
197 ED23 Andre Carter II Army Elerson Smith 6065 256 6.3
320 K3 Jack Podlesny Georgia Caleb Sturgis 6000 194
336 WR48 Malik Knowles Kansas State Cedrick Wilson 6022 196
356 ED40 Junior Aho SMU Henry Melton 6022 260 9.37
405 OL36 Alan Ali TCU Geoff Hangartner 6042 301 3.8
417 TE22 Ben Sims Baylor Jacob Breeland 6045 250 8.39
427 OT34 Jacky Chen Pace D’Ante Smith 6052 299 5.4
435 CB57 Jaylin Williams Indiana Charles Gaines 5096 184 5.55
449 DL35 Calvin Avery Illinois Kyle Love 6014 345 3.14
RB45 T.J. Green Liberty Maurice Morris 5110 205 8.49
RB51 TJ Cole Ouachita Baptist Kennedy Brooks 5111 201 6.25
WR67 Cephus Johnson III SE Louisiana Warren Jackson 6051 226
WR95 Thayer Thomas North Carolina State Dillon Stoner 6002 198 7.84
OT56 James Tunstall Cincinnati Mario Henderson 6065 304 6.85
CB72 CJ Coldon Oklahoma Leonard Myers 5101 186 3.94

The Vikings – capped-out, coming off a draft where they lacked equity, and in desperate need of cheap roster cogs – was atypically aggressive in this year’s UDFA market.

Minnesota gave Army EDGE Andre Carter II, who had 15.5 sacks in 2021, a UDFA-record $340,000 in guaranteed money. That broke the mark set last year when the Eagles gave Nevada QB Carson Strong $320k in guarantees.

In Carter’s case, $300,000 of Minnesota’s commitment is a base-salary guarantee. Minnesota is so capped-out that every dollar matters – they’re tipping off to you that they intend to roster Carter II barring disaster in camp. Which makes sense. Marcus Davenport is on a one-year deal, Danielle Hunter is unhappy, and Za’Darius Smith is ostensibly on his way out – and there ain’t much behind them.

Carter II has intriguing pass-rushing upside, but he’ll be unplayable against the run until he hits the weights and substantially improves his play strength. He can be a situational pass-rushing 3-4 OLB next year with a little special teams work sprinkled in (I’ll bet money he’s at least on the FG block unit, as he was the past-three years at Army).

But Carter II wasn’t my highest-ranked Vikings UDFA signing. That would be Cincinnati LB Ivan Pace Jr., who ranked No. 2 on my UDFA board (Carter II was No. 25). I’m stunned Pace went undrafted. Last year, he posted 137 tackles, including 21.5 TFL, 55 pressures and 12 sacks. Pace was PFF’s top-graded FBS linebacker (including No. 3 in run defense and No. 1 in pass-rushing grade).

Pace was heavily dinged because he’s 5-foot-10, doesn’t have a big tackling radius, and underwhelmed during athletic testing (57th-percentile size-adjusted composite). But how does a player with this skillset not turn into at least a strong NFL special teams player? A muscle-hamster type, Pace plays with plugged-into-a-reactor energy and a take-no-prisoners bent for violence.

With LB Jordan Hicks likely gone after next season, Minnesota neglecting the position in the draft, and no attractive heir apparent on the roster, there’s not only a clear path for Pace to make the 2023 roster, but to be a potential 2024 contributor on defense.

It’s possible that Illinois NT Calvin Avery could rally for a roster spot. He was one of this class’ few true 0-tech space-eaters. Southeastern Louisiana’s Cephus Johnson was an interesting dart-throw. Johnson was an athletic 6-foot-5, 220-pound collegiate quarterback who dabbled at receiver who the Vikings intend to transition to WR full-time. Knowles is a skilled returner with track speed. His odds of getting drafted were neutered when he wasn’t able to test due to a knee injury.

6. Philadelphia Eagles (8)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
131 CB19 Mekhi Garner LSU Chris Cook 6020 212 8.98
160 OT15 Trevor Reid Louisville Zach Tom 6041 311 9.61
171 CB24 Eli Ricks Alabama Akayleb Evans 6020 188 5.07
277 WR37 Jadon Haselwood Arkansas Jerricho Cotchery 6021 215 7.79
310 LB29 Ben VanSumeren Michigan State Chazz Surratt 6020 231 9.65
325 WR45 Joseph Ngata Clemson Jalen Camp 6032 217 7.31
RB46 Toa Taua Nevada Eno Benjamin 5084 204 1.26
TE38 Jordan Murray Hawaii Jacob Hollister 6035 242 6.69
TE39 Brady Russell Colorado Marcus Baugh 6027 247 6.46
CB75 Bentlee Sanders Nevada Duke Shelley 5081 173 2.22

The Eagles join the Cowboys as the only two teams in the NFL who have finished in the top-10 all five years I’ve ranked UDFA classes. Last year, three UDFAs made the Eagles’ 53-man roster: Reed Blankenship, Josh Sills, and Josh Jobe. Philly’s 2022 UDFA class led the NFL with $1.8 million in guarantees. In the years prior to that, T.J. Edwards, Britain Covey, Nate Herbig, and Cory Clement were plucked from the UDFA bin.

This year, Philly destroyed the draft, per usual – earning one of my “A+” grades – then returned to their aggressive ethos in the UDFA sweepstakes. The Eagles’ yearly strategy in this process is eschew quantity for quality – pay through the nose for prospects they believed should have been drafted.

Same deal this year: CB Mekhi Garner, OT Trevor Reid, and CB Eli Ricks were all ranked inside the top-175 of my board. (And WR Jadon Haselwood, LB Ben VanSumeren, and WR Joseph Ngata were all in the top-325).

Philly’s cornerback room is long in the tooth, one reason the Eagles were heavily linked to corners in the pre-draft process. But the only one the Eagles took during Draft Weekend was CB Kelee Ringo, who may ultimately shift to safety at the next level.

That was the impetus behind the signings of Garner and Ricks. Both are long boundary corners who cut their teeth at the highest level of college football. Garner is a 6-foot-2, 212-pounder with a 38-inch vertical and 89th-percentile size-adjusted athletic composite. Ricks, also 6-foot-2, was a projected first-rounder as recently as a year ago, but he had a down season at Alabama and then posted a poor 50th-percentile composite. Both players have wingspans over 78 inches.

On physical tools alone, in a shallow OT class, I was really surprised the 6-foot-4, 311-pound Reid wasn’t picked. He has an insane 85-inch wingspan – that’s 7-foot-1! – with a 96th-percentile athletic composite. Those guys don’t grow on trees.

7. Carolina Panthers (10)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
181 CB27 Rejzohn Wright Oregon State Kevin Toliver II 6020 193
246 RB21 Camerun Peoples Appalachian State Latavius Murray 6010 217 6.98
262 DL21 Jalen Redmond Oklahoma Lamarr Houston 6023 291 7.86
289 ED33 Eku Leota Auburn DeAngelo Malone 6030 252
338 OL30 JD DiRenzo Rutgers Connor McGovern 6045 306 9.4
340 LB32 Bumper Pool Arkansas Bryce Hager 6021 235
454 LB42 Austin Ajiake UNLV Jonathan Casillas 6014 223 7.83
487 CB65 Mark Milton Baylor Jordan Miller 6010 186 5.71
488 WR65 Josh Vann South Carolina Shi Smith 5102 190 5.25
QB41 Taylor Powell Eastern Michigan Dane Evans 6001 202 0.91
OL49 Nash Jensen North Dakota State Brendan Mahon 6037 322 7.49
ED59 Travez Moore Arizona State Jeffrey Gunter 6027 253 7.61
CB90 Colby Richardson LSU Kiondre Thomas 6001 186 5.3
S53 Nico Bolden Kent State Willie Pile 6033 208 8.8

Many teams use the UDFA sweepstakes to shoot the moon on athletic projects. Carolina’s class, in contrast, was filled with good players who got pushed out of the draft because of so-so athleticism.

That group starts with CB Rejzohn Wright and RB Camerun Peoples. Wright is a long boundary corner who excelled at Oregon State over 24 starts (following his transfer up from JUCO, where he was featured on Netflix’s “Last Chance U”). But questions about Wright’s athleticism led to him slipping out of Round 7. Wright’s brother, Nahshon, who also hailed from Oregon State, was a 2021 third-rounder of Dallas’.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Peoples is an imposing grinder who gets after it in pass-pro. He ran for a career 2,830 yards and 33 TD on 6.2 YPC. Peoples lacks high-end speed, but he could hang on a roster for his willingness to do an NFL backfield’s dirty work.

Oklahoma DT Jalen Redmond is a former mega-recruit who was wildly inconsistent in college. Redmond has a shot to stick around as a situational pass-rushing three-tech, but don’t expect anything more. He posted 18 TFL and 7.5 sacks over the past two seasons with the Sooners.

8. New Orleans Saints (13)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
211 LB18 Anfernee Orji Vanderbilt Sione Takitaki 6011 230 9.23
254 CB34 Anthony Johnson Virginia Jason Pinnock 6015 205 4.88
330 RB27 SaRodorick Thompson Texas Tech John Kelly 5115 207 4.51
363 DL29 Jerron Cage Ohio State Matt Toeaina 6020 311 2.42
371 OL33 Mark Evans II Ark. Pine Bluff William Sherman 6026 303 3.59
386 OL34 Alex Pihlstrom Illinois Austin Schlottmann 6053 302 9.26
391 LB38 Nick Anderson Tulane Quincy Williams 5093 230 7.4
403 WR56 Shaquan Davis South Carolina State Seth Williams 6044 216 7.57
489 TE25 Joel Wilson Central Michigan Noah Togiai 6035 242 4.33
WR70 Sy Barnett Davenport Andre Debose 6000 190 9.44
OL60 Adonis Boone Louisville Arie Kouandjio 6050 307 2.9

For the first time in the five years I’ve ranked UDFA classes, the Saints did not finish in the top-10. In recent years, New Orleans has fished WR Rashid Shaheed,TE Juwan Johnson, and All-Pro special-teams ace J.T. Gray out of the UDFA process. Can they get by this year with what on the surface appears to be a less-impressive group?

It wasn’t for a lack of spending. The Saints gave more than $200,000 guaranteed to both WR Shaq Davis and LB Anfernee Orji.

I wasn’t quite as high on WR Davis as the Saints were, but his signing by New Orleans should come as no surprise. The Saints love to take low-cost fliers on receivers like this: Long, stretched-out prospects with athletic traits. David has a ridiculous 82 ⅜” wingspan that is more like an edge rusher than a wide receiver.

LB Orji has the athletic traits to surprise at the next level. But he’ll need to be polished. His instincts aren’t there yet, and his leave-on-my-shield style can find him out of position or drawing penalty flags. But on traits alone, I expected his name to be called late-Day 3.

CB Johnson is a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder with good size, length, and ball production. He posted seven interceptions and 26 breakups over his career. But Johnson’s mediocre athleticism and tendency to get grabby when beat (21 career penalties) made teams skittish.

9. Los Angeles Rams (16)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
252 LS1 Alex Ward UCF Camaron Cheeseman 6040 240 5.35
256 S20 Quindell Johnson Memphis Reed Blankenship 6001 201 7.31
297 RB24 Tiyon Evans Louisville Peyton Barber 5095 225 6.78
362 S28 Rashad Torrence II Florida Paris Ford 6000 193 4.81
448 S34 Jaiden Woodbey Boston College Marcell Harris 6006 222 5.8
459 K4 Christopher Dunn North Carolina State Nick Folk 5080 175
467 CB62 Timarcus Davis Arizona State Curtis Brown 5111 180 7.75
483 LB46 Matthew Jester Princeton Andy Katzenmoyer 6031 252 9.32
QB27 Braxton Burmeister San Diego State Marcus Vick 6000 200 8.45
WR100 Tyler Hudson Louisville Devin Aromashodu 6010 196 2.92
TE31 Christian Sims Bowling Green Quintin Morris 6023 243 7.09
OL63 Sean Maginn Wake Forest Givens Price 6033 298 7.87
CB91 Jordan Jones Rhode Island Jeremiah McKinnon 5104 174 6.24
S41 Tanner Ingle North Carolina State Arthur Maulet 5086 179
S50 Collin Duncan Mississippi State Calvin Lowry 6000 197 5.04

Here’s what I liked about what the Rams did this year: For the first time in years, you saw a self-diagnosis of the problems on the hole-filled roster and a process-long strategy to address them. This wasn’t a sexy process. It was the opposite. It was a meat-and-potatoes approach that netted the hit-it-down-the-fairway-at-volume result that the Rams so desperately needed.

Handcuffed by a lack of equity during the draft, the Rams deferred to a high-floor mantra with its14 picks. A draft class that large can hurt a team’s ability to argue to agents that its UDFA clients should sign with them. But the Rams did solid work signing eight guys on my pre-draft 500-board.

Unless LS Alex Ward has a disastrous camp, he’s making the team as the Rams’ new long snapper. In most recent drafts, we’ve seen a long-snapper selected. We didn’t get one this year. That made Ward, the best long-snapper in the group, available to the Rams on the cheap.

It would also appear that UDFA K Christopher Dunn has a strong shot to win the team’s kicker job, giving Los Angeles a rookie-heavy special teams core in addition to R7 P Ethan Evans (both returner jobs will also likely be occupied by rookies).

I compared S Quindell Johnson to Reed Blankenship – now, Johnson is looking to copy Blankenship’s path to early NFL success from the UDFA ranks.

RB Tiyon Evans has intriguing developmental traits. He’ll have to beat out 2022 UDFA Ronnie Rivers in camp, and then cross his fingers that the Rams keep four RB (Kyren Williams and Zach Evans, Day 3 picks from the last two drafts, are locked-in behind Cam Akers).

10. San Francisco 49ers (18)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
166 OL14 Joey Fisher Shepherd Netane Muti 6041 296 9.66
339 RB28 Khalan Laborn Marshall Tre Mason 5085 204 8.47
346 CB45 D’Shawn Jamison Texas Shaun Prater 5092 184 5.87
360 ED41 Spencer Waege North Dakota St. Chris Wormley 6046 295 9.58
370 FB3 Jack Colletto Oregon State Derek Watt 6025 237 5.7
456 WR62 Jadakis Bonds Hampton Dez Fitzpatrick 6026 205 4.86
461 LB43 Mariano Sori-Marin Minnesota Dannell Ellerbe 6020 236 7.32
494 OL44 Ilm Manning Hawaii Julian Vandervelde 6021 294 7.95
WR105 Shae Wyatt Tulane Chris Finke 5102 188 6.05
WR126 Isaiah Winstead East Carolina Ventell Bryant 6031 210
OL56 Corey Luciano Washington Drew Hodgdon 6032 307 6.75
S46 Avery Young Rutgers Deionte Thompson 5113 198 3.3

The gem of the 49ers’ UDFA haul is OL Joey Fisher. Fisher is jumping up from the D-II level, but he’s got the athleticism and play strength to do it. He posted 4.90 40-yard dash with a hulking 40 bench press reps during the pre-draft process. Fisher needs to add weight (292 pounds), but he’s a strong fit in San Francisco’s zone-blocking scheme and should be a developmental priority.

RB Khalan Laborn is a sawed-off, muscled-up bowling ball with athletic traits who is coming off a dynamite season for Marshall (1,513 yards and 16 TD). But he and fellow UDFA RB Ronald Awatt are in for a fight in camp to try to break into the Elijah Mitchell-Jordan Mason-Tyrion Davis-Price trio currently sitting behind Christian McCaffrey on the depth chart.

It was humorous that San Francisco signed the all-purpose Jack Coletto. I wish that had been a pre-draft prop – the 49ers love guys like this. Coletto won Oregon’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a state-title-winning high school quarterback. But after two years at that position in college – the first in JUCO – he was moved by Oregon State to an H-Back role on offense and to linebacker duties on defense.

Over the last five years at OSU, Colletto played 452 snaps on offense, 201 snaps on defense, and 568 snaps on special teams. If Colletto can justify a 2023 roster spot through his special teams work, San Francisco can offer the perfect mentor in Kyle Juszczyk.

11. New York Giants (19)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
152 WR22 Bryce Ford-Wheaton West Virginia Donovan Peoples-Jones 6034 221 9.97
302 ED34 Habakkuk Baldonado Pittsburgh Oshane Ximines 6036 251 8.13
367 LB35 Troy Brown Mississippi Zakoby McClain 6006 223 7.44
402 CB53 Gemon Green Michigan Greedy Williams 6010 183 6.64
409 QB20 Tommy DeVito Illinois Collin Hill 6010 210 7.9
420 DL33 LaTrell Bumphus Tennessee Michael Dogbe 6031 277 8.71
QB32 Haaziq Daniels Air Force Kenny Hill 6002 209 7.61
QB43 Hunter Johnson Clemson Chris Rix 6025 199 8.33
RB52 Ike Irabor Union Darrynton Evans 5104 204 8.18
FB6 Ryan Jones East Carolina Ryan Yurachek 6012 240 5.42
WR72 Garett Maag North Dakota Robert Davis 6035 206 8.53
WR115 Carlos Carriere Central Michigan P.K. Sam 6053 205 3.32
WR116 Tarique Milton Texas Lavelle Hawkins 5105 199 6.06
TE42 Kemore Gamble Central Florida Cethan Carter 6034 234 5.68
OL61 Ahofitu Maka UTSA Marcus Martin 6026 310 6.34
OT50 Khalil Keith Baylor Tremayne Anchrum 6040 314 4.6
DL45 Ami Finau Maryland LaBryan Ray 6017 283 4.47
DL55 Caleb Sanders South Dakota State Tueni Lupeamanu 6003 287 8.91
LB53 Dyontae Johnson Toledo Gerald Hodges 6021 235 4.3

The most intriguing of the Giants’ UDFA signings was WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton. New York clearly wanted to address its receiver corps during Draft Weekend, but circumstances – including a four-receiver run of picks in front of them in Round 1 – dictated that the only receiver the Giants selected over Draft Weekend was Jalin Hyatt in Round 3.

In a receiver class as bereft of potential starting NFL boundary prospects, I was aghast that Ford-Wheaton didn’t get taken on Day 3. Ford-Wheaton was inconsistent throughout his collegiate career, for sure. But you can’t teach his athleticism in a 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame – including a 4.39 40-yard dash and a 41-inch vertical.

This team has so many true slot receivers, including Parris Campbell, Sterling Shepard, Wan’Dale Robinson, and now Hyatt. Its starting boundary WRs Isiah Hodgins and Darius Slayton are mediocre, and there isn’t much behind them. If Ford-Wheaton flashes any ability in camp, he’ll likely be kept as a pet development project.

The rest of New York’s haul faces longer odds to make the roster. There might be an LB spot on the 53 for whichever UDFA looks best in camp amongst Habakkuk Baldonado, Troy Brown and Dyontae Johnson. I had Johnson rated lowest in that group by margin, but the Giants clearly like Johnson after giving him $175,000 in guarantees.

QB Tommy DeVito will crack the 53 only if he can convince the team to carry three QB. New York’s top-two QBs – Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor – are locked in.

12. Chicago Bears (21)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
232 QB12 Tyson Bagent Shepherd Garrett Grayson 6026 213 8.99
333 LB31 Micah Baskerville LSU Marcus Freeman 6005 221 1.57
399 OL35 Lorenz Metz Cincinnati Chandler Brewer 6090 316 8.24
412 OT32 Chris Toth Aurora (IL) Trey Pipkins 6061 307 8.2
462 RB40 Andrew Clair Northwestern Darwin Thompson 5086 201 8.36
466 ED53 Jalen Harris Arizona Gaines Adams 6043 257 8.66
499 OT39 Gabe Houy Pittsburgh Nat Dorsey 6063 325 4.45
QB29 N’Kosi Perry Florida Atlantic Kelly Bryant 6024 199 6.24
FB5 Robert Burns UConn Lex Hilliard 5111 222 8.79
WR117 Aron Cruickshank Rutgers John Ursua 5093 165 6.64
WR129 Jadan Blue Virginia Tech K.J. Hill 5106 192 1.91
TE34 Lachlan Pitts William & Mary David Wells 6054 253 7.44
TE46 Sammy Wheeler Kansas State Cole Hikutini 6044 232 4.52
OL46 Nick Amoah UC Davis Alex Mollette 6023 306 7.72
OL55 Josh Lugg Notre Dame Braden Hansen 6066 306 2.46
OT41 Bobby Haskins USC Kyle Murphy 6057 297 5.5
OT48 Alfred Edwards III Utah State Obinna Eze 6070 318 6.88
DL52 D’Anthony Jones Houston Fred Washington 6003 276 4.54
LB64 Jordan Wright Kentucky Dominique Stevenson 6033 243 4.92
CB100 D’Jordan Strong Coastal Carolina Jason Goss 5094 187 1.44
S38 Macon Clark Tulane Jonathan Crawford 5116 203 6.48

The Bears’ new administration has opted for quantity-over-quality in the UDFA carousel in each of its first two years, honing in on flawed evals with developmental traits or isolated skills and giving those guys a shot on the field to make the argument they’re worth the investment to marinate.

The best of this year’s bunch is QB Tyson Bagent. Bagent was a prolific high school and college quarterback. But his strange recruiting process – nobody was interested despite his prep success – forced him to the D-II level.

I thought Bagent had done enough during his pre-draft process – with a solid showing at the Senior Bowl and a strong gamut of pre-draft athletic tests – to hear his name called on Day 3. Bagent will compete with Nathan Peterman in camp to be Chicago’s QB3.

Chicago’s lack of depth along the offensive line and in the linebacking corps offer LB Micah Baskerville, OG Lorenz Metz and OTs Chris Toth and Gabe Houy the real hope of making the 53.

WR Aron Cruickshank needs to make the team on the back of his return ability. But he’s skilled enough in that area to have a shot. And keep an eye on RB Andrew Clair and FB Robert Burns. Chicago’s backfield situation is more crowded today than it was pre-draft, but Clair and Burns were overlooked talents who can hang in the NFL.

Clair showed receiving chops earlier in his career at Bowling Green, but he got stuck behind Evan Hull after transferring to Northwestern. Burns is a former elite RB recruit who didn’t start to figure things out until UConn shifted him into a FB role in 2022. UConn HC Jim Mora said Burns was the country’s best FB last season.

13. Arizona Cardinals (24)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
294 TE15 Blake Whiteheart Wake Forest Chris Herndon 6037 247 8.99
298 LB28 Kyle Soelle Arizona State Joe Odom 6031 231 9.27
352 DL28 Jacob Slade Michigan State Jonathan Bullard 6031 285 8.76
382 RB32 Emari Demercado TCU Lavon Coleman 5093 213 8.23
447 CB59 Quavian White Georgia State Shaun Jolly 5084 185 5.3
WR73 Daniel Arias Colorado Limas Sweed 6034 208 7.63
TE37 Joel Honigford Michigan Brian Leonhardt 6050 260 3.75
LB49 Marvin Pierre Kent State Jon Alston 6014 222 9.08
S49 Kendell Brooks Michigan State Rudy Ford 5115 206 8.34

The Cardinals didn’t get any UDFA that I had a draftable grade on, but they did bring in five on my top-500 board.

My favorite of that group is TE Blake Whiteheart, who has some receiving chops. One of Whiteheart and fellow UDFA TE Joel Honigford has a chance to crack the 53 – the team’s depth behind TEs Zack Ertz and Trey McBride is poor.

Local ASU LB Kyle Soelle has always been an intriguing size/athleticism proposition, but the light didn’t start to flicker on until last season, when he posted 110 tackles. If Soelle shows the developmental arrow is still pointing upward in camp, he’s got a strong chance to crack a thin LB room.

The Cardinals were clearly more bullish on DT Jacob Slade than me, giving Slade $200,000 guaranteed. Slade projects as a 3-4 DE in the NFL. The Cardinals’ dearth of viable options behind Rashard Lawrence and Jonathan Ledbetter open the door for Slade to crack the 53 with a strong camp.

Arizona didn’t draft an RB despite having the NFL’s worst backfield. That made this a strong landing spot for RB Emari Demercado. Demercado has to beat out Ty’Son Williams and maybe Corey Clement to be on Arizona’s Week 1 roster.

14. Green Bay Packers (25)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
240 OT21 Kadeem Telfort UAB Cornell Green 6074 322 1.59
311 ED35 Brenton Cox Jr. Florida Eli Harold 6036 250 6.33
345 WR49 Malik Heath Mississippi Kendrick Rogers 6023 213 6.58
413 S31 Christian Morgan Baylor J.R. Reed 6004 200 8.67
468 LB44 Jimmy Phillips Jr. SMU Alfred Fincher 6012 232 3.44
WR77 Duece Watts Tulane Dai’Jean Dixon 6012 196 7
TE40 Camren McDonald Florida State Isaac Nauta 6042 237 2.52
OL54 Chuck Filiaga Minnesota Lucas Nix 6055 321 7.88
OT45 Isaac Moore Temple Rasheed Walker 6061 299 0.55
DL54 Jason Lewan Illinois State Sam Roberts 6062 293 8.55
ED60 Keshawn Banks San Diego St. Kendall Coleman 6032 251 2.11
S47 Benny Sapp III Northern Iowa Ibraheim Campbell 5110 200 4.4

The Packers’ knack for finding eventual starters in the UDFA process – Robert Tonyan, Yosh Nijman, and Allen Lazard in recent years – will be put to the test with this crop, which checks in No. 25 in the NFL.

But this year we saw a similar strategy deployed by Green Bay to what they’ve done in the past: The Packers avoid UDFA bidding wars and don’t pay out much money. Last process, Green Bay finished tied for third-lowest in the NFL in UDFA signing bonus money given out, and they were one of only five teams who put $0 into guaranteed salaries.

This strategy boxes the Packers out of the top talents left on the board. So we’re going to find out if they still can spot diamonds buried deep in the rough.

My favorite of the Packers’ signings was UAB OT Kadeem Telfort. Telfort is coming up from the G5, and he’s not a good athlete. But he’s blessed with an ideal NFL frame at 6’7 ½ and a ludicrous 86-inch wingspan. Telfort played 800-or-more snaps each of the past two seasons and posted PFF grades of 71.8 and 75.2. Don’t be surprised if he hangs around.

15. Washington Commanders (29)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
288 WR39 Mitchell Tinsley Penn State Willie Snead 5116 199 7.41
442 WR60 Kazmeir Allen UCLA Demetric Felton 5083 183 1.88
QB35 Jason Shelley Missouri State Connor Shaw 5102 197 7.26
RB47 Brad Roberts Air Force Nick Brossette 5107 210 3.98
WR69 Brycen Tremayne Stanford Hart Lee Dykes 6041 204 7.11
OT40 Mason Brooks Mississippi Tyler Johnstone 6054 302
LB51 Merlin Robertson Arizona St. Markus Steele 6023 226 6.8
S57 Kendall Smith Illinois Kenny Robinson 6010 211 5.2

I gave Washington’s draft class a D- grade. The UDFA class gets the equivalent of the same.

In the draft, Washington took defensive backs with the first two picks and used five-of-six picks after that on the trenches. The Commanders took no receivers during Draft Weekend. That was the one position they decided to splurge on in the UDFA free-for-all.

The biggest addition was Penn State WR Mitchell Tinsley. Tinsley transferred to PSU from WKU last offseason – he was never teammates with Jahan Dotson on campus, rather, Tinsley was brought to PSU to replace him.

Obviously no such thing will be happening here. But Tinsley has a very good shot to crack this roster. After starters Dotson, Terry McLaurin, and Curtis Samuel, the Commanders have very little at the WR position.

WR Kazmeir Allen will also have a shot to crack the 53. A former running back, Allen transitioned to receiver midway through his career at UCLA. He underwhelmed in athletic testing, but he has a versatile skillset to experiment with if he can overcome that.

The rest of the group isn’t much to write home about. I liked RB Brad Roberts’ tenacity and power at Air Force. But he isn’t big enough for fullback duties, and the roster he’s joining is now full of the same type of short-yardage grinder that he is – more talented versions.

16. Atlanta Falcons (29)

Rank Position Name School Comp HT WT RAS
387 ED44 Ikenna Enechukwu Rice Bryan Cox Jr. 6040 264 7.71
395 WR55 Justin Marshall Buffalo Marquez Callaway 6030 210 7.7
476 QB23 Chase Brice Appalachian State Kellen Clemens 6023 236
QB40 Austin Aune North Texas Jake Rudock 6020 215 6.73
QB42 Matt McDonald Bowling Green Matt McGloin 6020 211 1.77
WR68 Keilahn Harris Oklahoma Baptist Keke Coutee 5091 183
WR83 Xavier Malone Henderson State Stanley Berryhill III 5090 180 6.31
TE32 Gunnar Oakes Eastern Michigan Jared Pinkney 6041 252 6.07
OL59 Jacob Gall Baylor James Ferentz 6020 296 4.75
LB68 Mike Jones Jr. LSU Keishawn Bierria 5114 227 4.98
S52 Ja’von Hicks Cincinnati Nasir Greer 6007 205 6.28
S59 Clifford Chattman UTSA Corey Hall 6051 201 5.93

I always find it such a waste when organizations at a talent disadvantage don’t maximize the UDFA process. That certainly describes the team above, as it does the Falcons.

EDGE Ikenna Enechukwu has an NFL frame, NFL length, and NFL speed and burst. He posted at least 4.5 sacks each of the last two years. But Enechukwu’s stiffness makes him a bit of a tweener.

His lack of lateral agility would work better inside. But unless he gains another 30-plus pounds, that isn’t going to be viable. Even as a 3-4 DE, Enechukwu is badly in need of bulk and additional play strength. He’ll be worth a practice squad slot to park in the team’s dining facility and weight room for the next calendar year.

The only other additions that I can drum up any enthusiasm for are WRs Justin Marshall and Keilahn Harris. Atlanta’s receiving corps beyond WR Drake London is unsightly. That throws the door wide open for either Marshall or Harris to win a 53-man gig if they impress in camp.

Marshall is my favorite of the two. He and Enechukwu were the only two prospects in this crop in my pre-draft top-450. Marshall did damage in MACtion last year, posting 64 receptions for 837 yards and nine TD.

A true boundary receiver, Marshall is a strapping 6’2/205 with long speed (4.48) and requisite explosion. He wins downfield. On 172 career targets over 14.1 aDOT, Marshall had strong showings of an 8.3% career drop rate and a 51.0% career contested catch rate. I’m calling my shot: Marshall makes this team and sees the field as a rookie.

Harris is a prolific small-school slot receiver – 80 catches for 1,050 yards at Oklahoma Baptist last year – who is about to make an enormous leap up in competition. I liked Harris as a deep-deep-sleeper earlier in the process, prior to his ghastly pre-draft testing – including a 4.68 forty at 5’9/183. He’s quicker than that in pads, but he’s going to have to be significantly so to hang around.

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