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Undrafted Free Agents To Watch: Offense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 4, 2011 – 1:44 pm

Beginning with this entry and concluding with an entry tomorrow, we’ll take a look at several undrafted players who might be in high demand once undrafted free agency begins. Today’s entry focuses on offensive players; tomorrow’s entry will look at defensive players.

The NFL’s labor situation is messing with a lot of regularities right now, and the most recent example came at the conclusion of the draft last weekend. Typically the end of the draft marks the beginning of undrafted free agency, where teams rush to the phone lines to sign college players who weren’t selected in the draft.

Because of the work stoppage, we haven’t had undrafted free agency yet and that means future NFL players are still out there, waiting to find a team. That’s right – undrafted does not mean undeserving. While college free agents weren’t drafted, many of them have a bright future in the NFL. In fact, the Vikings have several success stories from undrafted free agency, on the team now and on past teams.

A few Vikings greats – QB Warren Moon (Hall of Famer), C Mick Tingelhoff and DT John Randle (Hall of Famer) – were all undrafted. Current Vikings who began their careers here as undrafted players include S Husain Abdullah, C Jon Cooper, LB Heath Farwell, LB Erin Henderson, G Anthony Herrera, LS Cullen Loeffler and DT Pat Williams.

Other prominent undrafted free agents who’ve found success in the NFL: TE Antonio Gates, James Harrison, Priest Holmes, LB Sam Mills, WR Rod Smith and QB Kurt Warner.

So, with that in mind, let’s go over several undrafted players (in alphabetical order) who might be in high demand once college free agency opens…

QB Ben Chappell (Indiana): Chappell was a part of our QB Collection and could be a good option for a team in search of a young QB. He completed 62.6% of his passes as a junior in 2009 and then 62.5% of his passes during his senior season in 2010; he also had a career 45-28 TD/INT ratio. I’m not sure if there will be room for him in Minnesota, but some team will give him a shot during training camp.

RB Noel Devine (West Virginia): A very productive player for West Virginia, Devine was hurt by his smaller frame (5-8, 179 pounds) and possibly by the fact that he absorbed so many touches throughout his 4-year career with the Mountaineers. But he’s quick as a whip and could be a great 3rd-down back for some team. He might even have return capabilities.

QB Pat Devlin (Delaware): Another guy in the QB Collection, Devlin played at the same school as Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco. I’m not sure why he went undrafted, perhaps it was the level of play he faced for most of his career. But consider this: Devlin was the Colonial Athletic Association’s Player of the Year for the 2010 season as he led the nation in completion percentage (67.9%) while throwing for 3,032 yards and posting a TD/INT ratio of 22-3.

WR Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State): Here in Big 10 country, we got to see quite a bit of Sanzenbacher on TV, and I came away impressed after his career. He doesn’t have great size nor does he have excellent speed or quickness. But what he lacks in those areas I think he more than makes up for in competitiveness, catching ability and grit. He makes difficult catches look easy, he’s fundamentally sound and his NFL.com scouting report raves about his route-running ability and his ability to fool defensive backs with double-moves. He plays the same position as Percy Harvin (slot receiver), but why not give this guy a shot?

QB Adam Weber (Minnesota): Another guy who was a part of the QB Collection, Weber is actually a guy I’d like to see have a shot with the Vikings. I believe his true potential was masked because of the poor Gophers football program that existed during Weber’s time on campus, and I also believe Weber is a gritty athlete who loves to compete. Maybe my instincts are completely off on this one, but I think he deserves a shot somewhere and I think he’ll make the most of that shot.


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