Written By: Roy Countryman @PreacherBoyRoy
The dust has settled after a whirlwind draft that includes a ton of trades and a terrific showing in Nashville no other draft can hold a candle to. Overall, we saw 254 players find new homes, but one of my favorite parts outside of scouting and watching the different team’s strategies come draft day is the intense free agency period that lies just after the naming of “Mr. Irrelevant”. So here are fifteen of my favorite fits for this year’s crop of UDFA!
David Blough: QB, Purdue (Cleveland Browns)
The depth chart behind Baker Mayfield could find itself in a shakeup come cutdown time. Veteran Drew Stanton was the backup last year, but he is making good money and could be replaced by either the defunct AAF MVP Garrett Gilbert or this young man, who is an upper echelon leader and always seems to be able to elevate the play of those around him.
James Williams: RB, Washington State (Kansas City Chiefs)
An RB who catches the ball like a slot WR. Williams surprisingly fell out of the draft due to a less than ideal 40 time at the combine, but when looking at his tape, it’s clear this guy is slippery, quick and has an innate ability to make the first defender miss. He will battle it out with late round RB Darwin Thompson to try and remake this Kansas City backfield after the terrible ending with Kareem Hunt.
David Sills: WR, West Virginia (Buffalo Bills)
Not the best athlete out wide, but all this guy does is win jump ball after jump ball opportunities and score TDs. Josh Allen is starving for more weapons, and with his height and jumping ability, Sills could endear himself early in the process.
Tyree Jackson: QB, Buffalo (Buffalo Bills)
Jackson is the ultimate lottery ticket at QB. He is raw in multiple areas and has good athleticism which matches up with the starter’s traits in case of an injury, but he will have to impress in the preseason if he is to beat out veterans Matt Barkley or Derek Anderson for the #3 QB spot.
Elijah Holyfield: RB, Georgia (Carolina Panthers)
Christian McCaffrey has bulked up and is waiting to be the bell-cow again this season, but what an ideal spot for a complimentary runner who has a differing rushing style. McCaffrey is the ultimate swiss army knife style RB, and Holyfield can be the bowling ball style power runner to grind down defenses late in the game. He also could find a niche as a TD vulture in short yardage situations.
Emanuel Hall: WR, Missouri (Chicago Bears)
Hall fell out of the draft due to multiple injuries that he had to overcome while at Mizzou, but when he was on the field, he was dynamite, with Drew Lock utilizing him on downfield routes. He could be an interesting piece of the puzzle to allow Trubisky a chance at uncorking some more deep passes.
Stanley Morgan Jr.: WR, Nebraska (Cincinnati Bengals)
Morgan is a quality WR who wins with his route running ability and savviness. He seems to have fallen through the cracks in this class, and the Bengals may have found a real steal here that new HC Zac Taylor will love to utilize in a Cooper Kupp-style fashion. Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green are both FAs after this season as well, so he if he flashes now, it could lead to a big role in the future.
Beau Benzschawel: OG, Wisconsin (Detroit Lions)
We all know Wisconsin OL come into the league with great coaching, and it doesn’t take much for them to transition. Here Beau settles into a competition at RG with vet Kenny Wiggins, and with his strength, power, and technique he could be a day one starter. Great signing by Detroit.
Trenton Irwin: WR, Stanford (Miami Dolphins)
A very under the radar signing, but one of my personal favorites. Every time I scouted Arcega-Whiteside there was a long blond haired WR making plays. This man did it all, winning on the inside and outside, and was a special teams standout. A terrific route runner with underrated athleticism, his skill set reminds me a ton of Eric Decker, and I could see him shining in the preseason, potentially endearing himself to the new franchise QB in Josh Rosen.
Keenan Brown: TE, Texas State (Los Angeles Rams)
Brown is a uniquely built TE in that he is built more like a big bodied RB, but he has terrific quickness and sure hands that led him to be a mismatch while at Texas State. If there is one thing we know Sean McVay knows how to utilize it is TEs, and he just got a new chess piece.
Devine Ozigbo: RB, Nebraska (New Orleans Saints)
A surprising combine snub also fell out of the draft. Just keep stoking that fire because this guy loves running angry and will break multiple tackles due to his forward lean and leg drive. He has good quickness and running instincts. Has a lot of traits similar to Michael Turner and could find a role behind Kamara and Latavius Murray.
Keelan Doss: WR, UC Davis (Oakland Raiders)
Doss got coached up by Jon Gruden at the Senior Bowl, and he must have endeared himself to coach because he was a target of theirs in undrafted free agency. Doss’s game is very similar to Keenan Allen in that he wins with route running, strength, quickness, and savvy. He should be a favorite to make the roster and push fellow 2019 WR Hunter Renfrow early.
Anthony Ratliff-Williams: WR, North Carolina (Tennessee Titans)
A versatile playmaker while at North Carolina, Ratliff-Williams also showed the ability to win routes downfield, which is an area that the Titans could use some help in. He should challenge immediately to be the opening day KR.
Gary Johnson: LB, Texas (Kansas City Chiefs)
For a Chiefs defense that is transitioning to a 4-3, Johnson has a chance to break into the LB rotation as a speedy sideline-to-sideline LB who has the range and closing quickness to get himself into a position for a ton of tackles. Was a leader while in college, and at worst he will be a special teams ace in his rookie campaign.
Daniel Wise: DL, Kansas (Dallas Cowboys)
Another quality addition to the Dallas front seven, Wise wowed a ton of evaluators while at the East-West Shrine Game with his power and quickness; no one was able to shut him down. He is a player that has effort concerns, so if Rod Marinelli can light a fire under his butt, he could be a valuable pass rusher in this rotation this year.
As we have seen year in and year out, there will be a number of stars that have slipped through the cracks each and every year. These are just my top 15 currently on rosters, and I challenge everyone before you start to grade your team’s draft to not overlook those players they have signed to UDFA deals. They might just be the missing piece to the puzzle.