Across the board in the NFL, teams have recognized just how important the NFL Draft is and why investing in good scouting is the best move a franchise can make.
But tons of gems still slide down the draft board and are not taken due to different factors such as not being the right fit for certain teams or not having the potential of lesser-known guys from smaller schools.
There are plenty big names on the undrafted free agent list in the wake of the 2009 NFL Draft and many of them could be solid role players on the right team.
Ian Johnson of Boise State has signed with the Minnesota Vikings and while he’s not a blazer, he is faster than he looks and has a nose for the end zone that could make him a valuable short yardage or fill-in back. He’s one of those students of the game-types who does all the little things well out of the backfield.
The former Fiesta Bowl hero signed with the Minnesota Vikings along with fellow Bronco Vinny Perretta. Johnson has stated he wants to be a Pro Bowl special teams player and that’s the attitude to have. Guys like Steve Tasker and Larry Izzo have made great names for themselves in the NFL in that role and a good chunk of change as well.
Michael Bennett, a defensive end from Texas A&M, is another potential impact undrafted free agent who signed with the Seattle Seahawks. He can be a good fill-in player up front with his ability to clog the rushing lanes.
Michigan State QB Brian Hoyer signed with the New England Patriots and he seems like a great fit. Todd McShay of ESPN was high on him but he didn’t get drafted as expected. Still, Hoyer has good anticipation skills and is pretty accurate on the underneath stuff while also being a good character guy who will fit in well with the Patriots. He looks like a quality backup-type who should stick around.
Looking for undrafted free agents with big-time statistical potential? Kory Sheets of Purdue and Arian Foster of Tennessee might be the best bets in that department.
Sheets has a tremendous burst and makes sharp cuts out of the backfield while also catching the ball well. He’ll start out as a third down back with the 49ers but could develop into more. He had very little support at Purdue in the running game because the Boilermakers were usually a pass-first team.
Foster is a bruising 226-pound back with a world of talent who went to the Texans and could be a good compliment to speedster Steve Slaton. Foster was one of the only Volunteers who seemed to play big in big games in the past few years and if he can handle himself off the field, he could end up as a productive NFL running back.
Other guys to keep an eye on are the Titans’ Mitch King, a DT from Iowa, and Jonathan Casillas, a blazing fast OLB from Wisconsin who will fit well on turf in New Orleans with the Saints.
All in all, it should be a banner year for undrafted free agent talent in the NFL.