After our look yesterday at NFL rookie free agents on offense, Let’s hop on over to the other side of the ball and give you ten defenders to look at as the Undrafted Free Agent market gets ready to kick-off.
There is no logical reason to explain PARKER’s availability right now. he had a stellar senior season on a good team. He has decent size and athleticism for the NFL game. He showed very well at SHRINE Week, actually capturing the Defensive MVP award for the game. He showed well at the COMBINE running a 5.03/40 which was 10th best at the DT position. He is, at the least, a good candidate for a 4-3 scheme DL rotation. He was the only player in my TOP 100 list, not to be Drafted in April. He may be limited and unlikely to ever get to a Pro Bowl, but he looks the part of a DL rotation player at the pro level.
A good athlete who has developed slowly, but steadily during his college career. He played DT in a 4-3 front at Northwestern, but might be best suited for a 3-4 scheme as a DE in the pros. Not being invited to the COMBINE hurt his stock a bit. He may have to be stashed and groomed on a Practice Squad for a year or two, but after watching him play in 3 games last Fall I think his potential is undeniable for a team with patience, teaching coaches and the right scheme for his talents.
I admit to falling in love with this small school guy for his work on the practice field in Mobile. He looked like he belonged physically and mentally all week. He lost some ground at the COMBINE, but not enough to drop out of the DRAFT. He has good size and looks quicker in pads than his 5.26/40 time in Indy.With all due respect to the SAU Football Program this guy is raw and has not had the advantages or facilities afforded to players who attended big school programs in the FBS division. I now hear he has some “off-field issues”, but cannot get anyone to give me specifics. WIth time and coaching I think this guy can develop into a starting DE in a 3-4 scheme in the NFL. Come on WHITEY, sign this guy for the PACK.
Because of injury ANTHONY pretty much lost his senior season, but he was able to play at the Texas v. Nation game in San Antonio. He has always had pass-rush skills, which he flashed at that game, but i was impressed to see him weigh in at a solid, still lean looking 280 lbs. That number potentially moves him out of the pass-rush specialist category and into consideration as an any down DE in a 4-3 scheme. I was not shocked to see him go undrafted, but I am still wondering if their were some disastrous notes on his medical charts that NFL teams are wary of. WE’ll soon find out, because if healthy he certainly deserves consideration in some team’s training camp this Summer.
MARK HERZLICH/LB/BOSTON COLLEGE/6’4/250
Concern for his long term health as a cancer survivor has to be the biggest reason for his availability on this list. He wasn’t the dominant player in 2010 that he had been 3 seasons ago, but that was expected after losing a full year to battling the Big C. But he showed flashes and their is no reason to think he won’t be even better in 2011… playing somewhere. He certainly should have been worth a Saturday Pick in the 2011 DRAFT. It seems to me that teams were reluctant to select a player they might have to commit up front money to, with his long term health being in question. Some team is going to get a hell of a bargain in the next few weeks. His locker room presence and PR value in the city he plays in is almost worth signing him for. But chances are some team gets a heck of a player as well.
Another incredibly productive college player who somehow slipped through the scouting cracks this Spring. He anchored a national championship defense and didn’t get invited to the COMBINE?! His height and weight are adequate for NFL play. Every team has 1 or 2 guys with his numbers. His play reminds me of BRANDON SPIKES of the PATS, in that he out-performs his numbers with football smarts out on the field of play. He seems to find the ball and can make the big play more than you might reasonable expect. Will he play Special Teams? Will he lead by example? Will he be good in the locker room? the list goes on and the answers are all going to be that, yes, he will become an integral part of an NFL team.
NICK BELLORE/ILB/CENTRAL MICHIGAN/6’1/245
Similar to BYNES, his play on the grass surpasses his testing at a COMBINE. But he’s not a slouch athletically or mentally. He had the highest Wonderlic score in Indy other than a QB. He failed to record 100 tackles (90) only in his senior season, when he started only 11 games. His tackling fundamentals are solid and will translate well on Special Teams. He looks to have enough potential mentally and physically to contribute in multiple ways as an NFL roster member. He’ll bring multiple skills and a great attitude to his pro team. He probably never starts on a regular basis, but could be a valuable back-up and part time fill-in for a team using a 3-4 scheme.
LEFEGED is a much better athlete than you might think. But he was underproductive during his career at RUTGERS. Someone starting 37 games and with his athleticism and size should have more than 238 tackles and 2 INT for their career. But part of that may be attributed to a RUTGERS defensive scheme that plays its Safeties deeper than almost any team in D-1 football, even on early downs.He looked solid in Mobile, but did not stand out. Of great value is the fact that he has been a gunner on Special Teams coverage units. He shows enough toughness to develop into a better pro defender than he was in college. I had him ranked as my 155th best Prospect, not a RFA.
Because of his short stature and lack of elite speed (4/75/40 @ COMBINE) I had him rated as a late round Draft Pick, but not a RFA. he got caught up in the violations hubbub at UNC this past season and only played in 6 games. But he started 44 games in his college career and came away with 11 INT. he seems to have a real nose for the football and is elusive with the ball in his hands. Will come up to provide run support despite diminutive height. He’s a slower ANTOINE WINFIELD and certainly has the skills and overall athleticism to play in the pros. He should be able to earn a spot as a sub-package Corner, perhaps right away. I thought he would be over-Drafted, but now I see him as a valuable RFA signee.
RYAN JONES/CB/NW MISSOURI STATE/5’11/197
I will fess up and admit that I have not seen JONES in action. I can only go by numbers and scouting reports from people I trust & respect. The consensus seems to be that this small school player has the tools to play in the NFL. He will of course require patience and coaching up, but offers more upside than some players taken during the April event. Not getting invited to the COMBINE to post some official numbers cost this young man, as it does many other small school players. Watch for some team that builds through the Draft process, like THE PACK, to be all over him once the signings begin. I just have a positive vibe on his potential to play in the NFL.
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.