The NFL Draft

The NFL Draft

The NFL draft is over, which means the rush to sign undrafted free agents is on. This year’s draft featured 253 picks, starting with Myles Garrett to the Browns on Thursday and ending with Chad Kelly to the Broncos on Sunday.

Here’s a running tracker of UDFA signings.

It’s hard to make a mark in the NFL as an undrafted player, but a couple of players pull it off every year. Solid contributors are there for the finding, and the teams that find them will get an excellent value reward whether it’s on offense, defense, or special teams. UDFAs are on cheap, short-term contracts, but many can play.

Undrafted free agency is a mad scramble for players to find homes and teams to load up their offseason rosters. UDFAs go on the same wage scale as drafted rookies, and the 2017 undrafted free agent salary is likely to be below $500,000. That’s for players who stay on rosters for the full season; most UDFA signings won’t last that long.

Still, some players prefer to go undrafted than be picked in the sixth or seventh round. By that point, the financial guarantees for players aren’t much different, and undrafted prospects get to choose the most favorable landing spot. Some undrafted free agents will make rosters out of training camp while draftees are cut.

This year’s undrafted players include 27 underclassmen who left college eligibility on the table to turn pro. It’s unfortunate when players go undrafted, but it’s worth remembering that one could turn pro for any number of personal reasons.

2017’s top undrafted free agents

Projecting how UDFAs will perform is difficult. Here are some who stand out. If there’s reporting that a player has signed or earned a tryout somewhere, it’ll be linked here.

  • Taysom Hill, QB, BYU (Packers)
  • Mitch Leidner, QB, Minnesota (Ravens)
  • Alek Torgersen, QB, Penn (Falcons)
  • Ben Boulware, LB, Clemson (Panthers)
  • Ricky Seals-Jones, WR, Texas A&M (Cardinals)
  • Jarron Jones, DT, Notre Dame (Giants)
  • Colin Buchanan, OL, Miami (Ohio) (Saints)
  • Travis Rudolph, WR, Florida State (Giants)
  • Travin Dural, WR, LSU (Saints)
  • Sefo Liufau, QB, Colorado (Buccaneers)
  • Artavis Scott, WR, Clemson (Chargers)
  • Bryan Cox Jr., DE, Florida (Panthers)
  • Jadar Johnson, S, Clemson (Giants)
  • Devonte’ Fields, OLB, Louisville
  • Aviante Collins, OT, TCU (Vikings)
  • Will Likely, CB, Maryland
  • Lewis Neal, DE, LSU (Cowboys)
  • Phil Walker, QB, Temple (Colts)
  • Ishmael Zamora, WR, Baylor (Raiders)
  • Noble Nwachukwu, DE, West Virginia
  • Connor Harris, ILB, Lindenwood (Jets)
  • Fadol Brown, DE, Ole Miss (Raiders)
  • Tony Bridges, S, Ole Miss (Seahawks)
  • Channing Stribling, CB, Michigan (Browns)
  • Damore’ea Stringfellow, WR, Ole Miss (Dolphins)
  • KD Cannon, WR, Baylor (49ers)
  • Tyler O’Connor, QB, Michigan State (Bengals)
  • Tim Patrick, WR, Utah (Ravens)
  • Charles Walker, DT, Oklahoma
  • Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin (Eagles)
  • Amba Etta-Tawo, WR, Syracuse (Jaguars)
  • Tyler Orlosky, C, West Virginia (Eagles)
  • Jimmie Gilbert, OLB, Colorado (49ers)
  • Josiah Price, TE, Michigan State (Vikings)
  • Zach Terrell, QB, Western Michigan (Ravens)
  • Gabe Marks, WR, Washington State (Jets)
  • Hunter Dimick, DE, Utah
  • Jamal Carter, S, Miami (Broncos)
  • De’Veon Smith, RB, Michigan (Dolphins)
  • Harvey Langi, DE, BYU (Patriots)
  • Dare Ogunbowale, RB, Wisconsin (Texans)
  • Kenneth Walker, WR, UCLA (Jaguars)
  • Rushel Shell, RB, West Virginia (Steelers)
  • Trevor Knight, Texas A&M QB (Cardinals)
  • Dan Skipper, OT, Arkansas
  • Lorenzo Jerome, S, Saint Francis (Pa.) (49ers)
  • Keeon Johnson, WR, Virginia (Giants)
  • Cameron Johnston, P, Ohio State (Eagles)

Who are the best UDFAs in recent history?

There are a lot of good ones. A few of the best undrafted free agents currently in the league are Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins (2015) and Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns (2014). Collins’ was only undrafted because of extenuating circumstances. Just in the last few years, they’ve emerged as some of the best players at their positions.

The 2000s featured a bunch of outstanding UDFAs. Kurt Warner went unpicked in the late ‘90s and established himself as an all-time quarterback. Priest Holmes, Wes Welker, Antonio Gates, James Harrison, Rod Smith, and Adam Vinatieri are among the UDFAs who’ve become cornerstone players for their franchises this millennium.

Look back further, and there are plenty more UDFA gems. Here are some more of them. Warren Moon, Cornell Green, Larry Little, Donnie Shell, Joe Jacoby, and Brian Waters all had marvelous careers. None of them got picked in the draft.

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