July 24, 2011
Usually, the players who are not selected in the NFL draft are grabbed up by teams a few days after the draft ends and as plans for first minicamps begin. Of course, this year's class of undrafted players have faced several blocks on their way to the pros. Because of the restrictive lockout rules, NFL teams could not contact them, and many UDFAs were left to work out at their college campuses, waiting in purgatory for a shot at the NFL. Now that the work stoppage is over, here are some of the best players on offense that could help NFL teams sooner than later — if they get the chance.
Adam Froman, QB, Louisville
An interesting prospect — Froman was virtually unrecruited coming out of a Flintstones offense in high school, went the junior college route, and fought his way up the ladder to the position of starting quarterback for Louisville in the 2009 season. Switching from pro-style to spread for the 2010 season, Froman showed his surprising speed as a runner before losing his last five college games to injury. Underexposed on tape, but has the potential to show a Kevin Kolb(notes) (but faster) upside.
Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware
First mistake would be mistaking Devlin for fellow Delaware alum Joe Flacco(notes); Devlin would struggle to make the throws Flacco could zing in his sleep. Playing in a spread offense that was friendly to his relatively weak arm and inability to make strong throws in tight windows, Devlin could succeed in an offense with route complexity and deeper throws requiring more touch than velocity.
Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky
Locke looked very impressive at the Senior Bowl, hitting holes and cutting back with an ability that reminded me of Steve Slaton(notes). The willingness to stand out in the blocking drills was a bonus — more than just about any player there, Locke played as if he had something to prove. At 5-foot-8 and 188 pounds and with an extensive injury history, Locke will have to be used in a rotation.
Mario Fannin, RB, Auburn
And just as Locke is the smaller back prospect in a rotation, Fannin might be an ideal short-yardage/fullback option. An excellent blocker without much long speed, Fannin was known more for blocking, and blasting through for yards after contact. A player whose film is more impressive than his stats.
Dane Sanzenbacher, WR, Ohio State
Another Senior Bowl standout, Sanzenbacher may have slipped through the cracks due to the fact that while he is an ideal possession receiver, he doesn't show ideal burst off the line and isn't very explosive when he gets in space. But teams looking for a good role-player on underneath stuff could do worse. A very smart player.
Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU
Dinged for his sub-par productivity in a very limited passing offense, Toliver does provide an interesting combination of size and speed. He's a project player, though — he's had issues with drops and there are off-field concerns that teams will have to take into account. A tough player in traffic with big-play potential in the right scheme and locker room.
Ricardo Lockette, WR, Fort Valley State
Lockette got some late pre-draft buzz for one reason — the sub-4.3 40s he was running at 6-foot-2 and 211 pounds. That speed shows up on his game tape, as well — where he falls short at this point is in route complexity and catch consistency. But he has the potential to flash as a deep threat at the Jacoby Ford(notes) level; it's just a matter of finding the right offense.
With all the big receivers masquerading as tight ends these days, here's a guy far more conversant in smashmouth blocking than explosive plays. At 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, Smith has near-tackle size, and that's most likely where he fits at the next level — teams running a lot of two-TE sets in which one tight end is set up to block in six-man style fronts will be looking hard at Smith when they can.
Schuylar Oordt, TE, Northern Iowa
Oordt, on the other hand, is a big receiver with the tight end position. Getting off to a slow start at a smaller school didn't do much for his draft stock, but his game tape should have him at the top of any offensive coordinator's post-lockout list. Oordt stretches the field in a way that could predetermine defensive matchups, and how often opposing defenses take third linebackers off the field.
Derek Hall, OT, Stanford
Hall came to Stanford as a defensive lineman and made the switch to the offensive side before the 2010 season, starting all 13 games at right tackle as quarterback Andrew Luck rose to the top of the charts. Inexperience kept Hall undrafted, but he showed enough in that one season to be taken seriously as a developmental prospect who could enjoy longtime success in the NFL.
David Mims, OT, Virginia Union
Strength of competition kept Mims off draft boards; even a cursory look at his game tape reveals a huge man who easily abuses the non-NFL prospects he played against. But the potential is certainly there; he spent his pre-draft time getting coached up by Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz and dropping 20 pounds off his playing weight. Teams looking for a power blocker and willing to work with a player who basically didn't have any specific positional coaching in college will look Mims' way.
Ray Dominguez, OG, Arkansas
Dominguez started for three seasons at tackle for the Razorbacks; though he may project better at guard at the NFL level especially for teams like the Falcons, Titans and Seahawks looking for bigger guards who are still mobile enough to stay with more complex offensive schemes.
Kris O'Dowd, C, USC
At a position where undrafted players frequently rack up multiple Pro Bowls, O'Dowd may be one of the better sleepers of this overlooked class of players. Projected by many as a mid-round pick, O'Dowd comes to the NFL with experience in different pro-style offenses. Probably best as a zone-blocking center; his intelligence and experience will set the tone.
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