5 Undrafted NFL Rookies likely to succeed
Although the 2013 NFL Draft supplied opportunities for 254 collegiate players, there are still dozens of talented players that remain undrafted. The frenzy for these “value” players begins immediately after Mr. Irrelevant is selected in round seven. This year saw the following playmakers signed as undrafted free agents, and given the team and current depth chart, may have won the under-rated-player lottery.
QB Matt Scott - Jacksonville Jaguars
With weak play at quarterback in 2012, and a lack of addressing the position in the draft, Matt Scott was signed into one of the most promising situations of all. Current starter Blaine Gabbert has failed to impress to this point, even given some talented weapons last season. In fact, backup quarterback Chad Henne threw for more touchdowns in fewer starts. Scott will be given a fair chance to compete for the starting job, and will likely be at least a backup that sees significant playing time in 2013.
TE Joseph Fauria – Detroit Lions
In 2012 the Lions ran mostly single tight end sets, but the NFL is quickly changing to a tight end-friendly league. Second tight end Tony Scheffler managed just over 500 yards and one touchdown playing opposite Brandon Pettigrew. Joseph Fauria is an intimidatingly large 6’7”, 255 lbs., and can move a defender with the flick of a wrist. His enormous frame will give quarterback Matthew Stafford a can’t-miss redzone target. Fauria offers the possibility of scoring touchdowns, but unlikely to have post high numbers in receiving yards.
RB Stefphon Jefferson – Tennessee Titans
As the second-leading rusher in the NCAA last season, Jefferson makes for a solid backup to the unpredictable Chris Johnson in Tennessee. The Titans signed ex-Jets running back Shonn Greene, who can also be looked at as less-than-reliable. The door remains open for Jefferson to prove himself in training camp, and become one injury away from the starting job. His size (5’11”, 210 lbs.), one-step cuts, and downhill running make him a significant change of pace from the east-west quickness of Johnson. Don’t be surprised to see Jefferson move past Greene on the depth chart and become a great story this season.
WR Da’Rick Rogers – Buffalo Bills
Buffalo understood their needs, and addressed them in the 2013 NFL Draft. The Bills took Robert Woods, who appears to be a shoe-in as the starter, with their second selection, and then followed it up with Marquise Goodwin with their fourth selection. However, undrafted rookie Da’Rick Rogers may be a better bet to take the third receiver spot ahead of Goodwin. Although Goodwin has speed oozing from his pours, and even competed in the 2012 Olympic Games, his statistics leave much to be desired. Rogers, on the other hand, put up great numbers at the University of Tennessee before transferring to Tennessee Tech for his final season. Rogers will have his work cut out for him in camp, but making an impact this season is certainly within the realms of possibilities.
RB Ray Graham – Houston Texans
Arian Foster is the clear starter in Houston. After that, it appears wide open for the remaining backs. Ben Tate will likely be slated to take backup duties at the beginning of camp, but Graham has skills that could outshine the previously injured Tate, and earn him number two on the depth chart. Graham is smaller than Tate and runs low to the ground. He has fantastic lateral movement and offers a significant contrast to the one-cut Foster. For the greatest impact when bringing in relief for Foster, the Texans would benefit by using Graham to catch defenses off guard.
Haven Barnes is an NFL writer for TPF and can be contacted at HBarnes@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com