It’s very common for teams to sign a number of undrafted free agents after the draft is over, mostly to make sure they didn’t miss any diamonds in the rough or to create competition for training camp. It’s also fairly rare for these players to make the active roster and most times end up on practice squads if they’re lucky. General Managers are always looking for the next Pierre Thomas, but with the high intensity and depth of scouting that goes on now, the diamonds in the rough are a lot harder to find than they used to be. All that being said though, some good players can be found through the undrafted free agent route, even if they are added for depth or to become developmental players. In all likelihood, the undrafted free agent rookies won’t make it on the active roster, but John Parker Wilson came in ready and focused last year to supplant hometown favorite DJ Shockley last year, so anything’s possible. Which one of these offensive rookie free agents has the best chance of making the team?
Talk about massive production? Wolfe epitomized the essence of production while at UNLV, shattering pretty much every receiving record while there. Wolfe totaled 283 receptions, almost 3,500 yards receiving, and 15 touchdowns. Wolfe was even hampered his senior year with a foot injury that potentially prevented some higher production. The former UNLV receiver stands 6’1 and 205 lbs. He also pulled a hamstring at his pro day that could have led to his small drop in the draft. NFL Icon Gil Brandt even compared Ryan Wolfe to a potential Austin Collie steal. The Falcons were enamored enough with him to spend a private workout with. Will be tough to break the active roster (as for all other rookie WRs), but it’s a possibility, and definitely could hit the practice squad.
The Villanova receiver was a rarely heard name that had good size (6’4, 205), but no one probably thought too much of the signing. That all changed when Harvey came in and impressed the coaches and fans alike with his speed and excellent ability to get wide open in the Falcons mini-camp. Harvey created some of the biggest buzz the mini-camp and seemingly vaulted up the boards. It is true that most receivers look good in shorts and shirts, but Harvey was seen getting completely wide open many times and even taking Dunta Robinson to task a couple of times. Harvey recorded 131 career receptions, 1,845 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Not insanely large stats, but Harvey might be hitting his prime at the right time.
Not one of the biggest names for sure, but Buckley was highly productive at Alcorn State where he played quarterback and racked up 3,930 passing yards, 725 rushing yards, and 27 touchdowns. Buckley stands 6’1 and weighs 185 lbs and will have to make the switch to wide receiver in a very short time. It certainly can be done, but it will be an uphill battle for him trying to learn a new position in very short amount of time, particularly with all the competition at wide receiver. His athleticism might just allow him to do it.
Drescher, 6-1, 230 pounds, was only one of three players in Colorado history to handle long snapping duties for all four years on the team. For two consecutive spring seasons (2007-08), Drescher was the Iron Buffalo Award winner among specialists, which is awarded to players for hard work, dedication, toughness and total poundage in strength and conditioning. Drescher will be battling head-to-head with current long snapper Joe Zelenka for a spot. Its highly doubtful that the Falcons will keep a long snapper on the practice squad. It will be a very tough fight for Drescher, but not impossible, because Zelenka is 34 years old and the Falcons may elect to go with youth.
“Nance is tough inside runner who is rarely tackled for a loss. He possesses a thick, compact build perfect for his playing style, and has nice vision and balance. He also displays good patience when waiting for blocks to set up and is a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield.” (NFLDrafScout.com). His stats won’t blow you away (795 rushing yards, 6 TDs his senior year), but he might be able to claim a seemingly open 5th running back spot if he comes in and works really hard. At 5’10, 219, he might not be exactly what the Falcons need since they have both Turner and Snelling who fit that mold. However, depending on which way the Falcons go in resigning either Snelling or Norwood, Nance may have a chance. Like most UDFA’s, it will be an uphill battle because he will be going head-to-head with Antone Smith, who has been on the practice squad since mid year last season and has impressed so far.
Perhaps no undrafted player has a better chance of making the squad than Colin Peek. The former Alabama tight end definitely isn’t flashy by any means, but he is a very good all-around tight end. His draft stock may have dropped due to a low 40 time and his career stats being fairly low since he sat out his junior year after transferring from Georgia Tech when the triple-option came to town. Peek will never be mistaken for a vertical threat, but Peek seems to be one of those tight ends that knows how to get open and catches everything thrown his way. Projects as a classic move-the-chains type of tight end that is an excellent blocker. Blocking on the line of the national championship Crimson Tide and helping pave the way for Mark Ingram’s Heisman Trophy will likely give him a leg up on the competition. Very smart and hard working player. May be able to glean information from former teammate John Parker Wilson on what’s needed to make the team. Reportedly had a very good mini-camp and is off to a fast start in terms of what’s expected.
Second Team Consensus Draft Scout Preseason All-America… Considered one of the top pro QB prospects in the FCS for 2009… Second Team Preseason All-Conference pick by Phil Steele… voted as a senior captain by the team… Enters his senior season as Richmond’s career leader in completion pct. (62.0), ranks third in career passing yards (6,573) and second in TD passes (45). Technically, Ward was a tryout that earned an invitation to training camp. Could challenge Shockley for practice squad status and become another developmental quarterback for the Falcons.
So there’s your list of offensive undrafted free agent rookies. Definitely some talent there for sure, but the question is whether or not the prospects can buck the trend of the norm which is where the majority of undrafted free agents can aim for a spot on the practice squad, but rarely vault up to a position on the active roster. It does happen, as John Parker Wilson proved last year, but it’s pretty rare. With the signing of 15 undrafted free agents and so many draft picks, its pretty evident that the Falcons coaches and front office are gearing up for a serious injection of youth, athleticism, and above all else…competition.
-Which Rookie Free Agents Do You Like the Most?
-What Prospects Have the Best Chance of Making the Team?
-Do Any Have a Shot at the Active Roster?
-Is their Best Hope a Spot on the Practice Squad?
-Give Your Predictions of Who Makes it and Where?