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Armchair GM: Which UDFAs Have the Best Chance of Making it?

May 7, 2018
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Armchair GM: Which UDFAs Have the Best Chance of Making it?

Each year 256 college players get selected in the NFL Draft. Each year the college ranks produce about 350 players who have the ability to play in the NFL. Each team gets 13 Undrafted Free Agents so only about one quarter of those players make the 350 cut. That averages out to about 2 or 3 UDFAs  per team who have a chance of making an NFL roster.

The players that are not in that group of 256 who were drafted don’t have the same opportunity as the ones selected in the Draft. They have to beat out the players of the Draft, the players on the Practice Squad and the aging or under-performing veterans on their way out (but who aren’t quite ready to leave). So, ability notwithstanding, it all comes down to roster spot availability.

Chance of a Roster Spot

WR/RB/KR/PR/OW – Quadree Henderson – Pitt – 5′-8″, #175 – 40/4.52 – Henderson is more than just a return specialist and gadget player, though that’s likely where he will earn his keep with the Steelers. Watching his video, there’s a lot to get excited about.

He has a legitimate shot of sticking with the team as a #2 Slot Receiver, taking over Eli Rogers’ spot  He should be more of a threat after the catch than Rogers. 4.5 speed with his elusiveness is a good combination and for an elusive runner he’s not juke crazy. He moves just enough to get his would be tackler to commit, then he flips his hips and changes direction.

Henderson is small but he’s solidly built. He should be able to hold up to use as a change of pace Running Back. He was used extensively on Jet Sweeps, end arounds and misdirection plays, which could add some wrinkles to the Steelers’ playbook. Offensive Coordinator, Randy Fichtner should have a lot of fun figuring out ways to use this versatile offensive weapon and he should have value as a decoy, as well. For his career Henderson had 98 carries for 887 yards and a crazy  9.1 ypc with 5 TDs. He added 45 receptions, 473 yards and 10.5 yards per catch with 1 TDs.

On returns Henderson wastes no time getting into one of his top gears. He follows blocks well. Quadree’s path to the roster is clear. He had 26.6 yard average on returns and 4 TDs and 13.6 yards and 3 TDs on punts, on his career. If he puts up comparable numbers in preseason, he’s in. The Steelers have been looking for this player for years. The Barron Batchs and Dri Archers have come and gone. Here’s to hoping this Quadree Henderson can stick.

Nose Tackle/DT – Greg Gilmore – LSU – 6’3″, 320# – 5.15/40 – Gilmore is a big run stuffer who can draw double teams. He could be more effective if he made better use of his hands. Was recruited as a pass rusher but ended up being a space eater at Nose and Defensive Tackle. He began starting in the middle of his Junior year and only has one year of quality production. The Steelers have good subs at both ends with Tyson Alualu and L.T. Walton. 7th Rd pick, Joshua Frazier is also here to compete for Daniel McCullers’ backup Nose Tackle spot but there is room on the roster for one more DL should Frazier make it. Gilmore is mobile and athletic enough to sub across the line so he has the versatility the Steelers like in their second stringers. Gilmore got a Senior Bowl invite but was snubbed by the Combine. He had 21 reps at the 250# bench, a 29″ vertical jump, 5.15/40, 7.65 3-cone drill and 4.81 20 yard shuttle at his Pro Day which would’ve landed him on about the middle of page one of the Combine results, so those numbers aren’t bad, at all.

Gilmore tallied 51 tackles, 10.0 for loss with 7.5 sacks and 1 pass deflection in 2017. In 2015 he put up 34 tackles, 1 for a loss and 1 sack.

ILB – Matthew Thomas – Florida State – 6′-3″, #232 – 4.58/40 – If things stay as they are at Inside Linebacker Thomas has a chance of beating out L.J. Fort for the last ILB spot. Thomas put up nice stats for the Seminoles but he lacks some of the instincts and read and reaction time you’d like from your interior players. Athletically he’s very solid but his athleticism and performance have yet to jell on the playing field. Thomas is a bit of a project but does have enough game to be in the fight for a roster spot. If Tomlin and Timmons do what they should and get over their spat, Thomas’ chances downgrade to Practice Squad.

On The Roster Bubble or Practice Squad Candidate

OLB – Olasunkanmi Adeniyi – Toledo – Adeniyi shows disruptive hands, good leverage, some bull rush power and a high motor. What holds him back is his game speed, borderline athleticism and unproven pass coverage ability. Last year’s 7th Rd pick, Keion Adams, should be healthy and he has more power, speed and a more polished game. How Adams plays will effect whether Adeniyi makes the team or ends up as a Practice Squad candidate.

FS/CB – Jamar Summers – Connecticut – Summers has decent man coverage ability but seemed lost at times in zone. He has the size at 6′-0″ for CB but is probably better suited for FS. With the Steelers taking two Safeties he has limited chances of sticking there. The Steelers use of Cover 2 Zone Under has been disastrous and there has been talk of using more Man Cover this year which increases Summers chance of making the Practice Squad. A deep talent pool, Mike Hilton, Cam Sutton, Brian Hill and Coty Sensabaugh at Cornerback also limits Summers chances of making the roster.

Training Camp Fodder

Note: ‘No grade on NFL.com’ means ‘developmental league player’ = No shot at making an NFL roster and very little chance of making the Practice Squad.

Parker Cothren         DT       Penn State – No roster spot available.

Jarvion Franklin       RB      Western Michigan – Put up big stats in college but not                                                 elusive and runs a 4.63/40.

Trey Johnson           CB      Villanova – Backup college player. No roster spot.

Pharoah McKever    TE       North Carolina State – No grade on NFL.com.

Patrick Morris            C         TCU – No grade on NFL.com

Ikenna Nwokeji         OL       Elon – No grade on NFL.ocm

Chris Schleuger       G         UAB – No grade on NFL.com

Kendal Vickers         DE      Tennessee – No grade on NFL.com

Well, everybody loves an underdog and Quadree Henderson is an exciting prospect as are a few of the others. The Steelers always give players a chance to show what they can do. It will be interesting to see how Training Camp plays out and if any of the players have what it takes to be a Steeler.

Go Steelers!

Jeffrey Burton

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