Even though the NFL Draft has grown into a year-round phenomenon that involves thousands of hours of scouting and dissecting the nation’s college football elite, dozens somehow slip through the seven-round event.
The disappointment of going undrafted can cause some players to move on from the game. For others, it simply fuels the fire.
The 2015 NFL Draft once again saw a number of high-profile collegiate studs get passed over. LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins was obviously the most well-known of the group, but his situation was truly a unique one. Viewed as a top-25 lock, he fell out of the draft completely due to simply being mentioned in the same breath as a murder case.
Collins’ decision to sign with the Dallas Cowboys signified the start of a new chapter for the former SEC star, but he’s not the only undrafted free agent seeking a fresh start. With so many undrafted free-agent success stories on the offensive side of the ball (Wes Welker, Arian Foster, Jeff Saturday, Antonio Gates), it’s a certainty that at least a few from this year’s class will establish lasting NFL legacies.
Taking a look at the hundreds of talented undrafted free agents, here’s my 2015 All-Undrafted Offensive Team. Check back next Monday for the All-Undrafted Defensive Team.
QB: Brandon Bridge, South Alabama: In a weak quarterback class, teams simply didn’t want to waste mid- to late-round picks on quarterbacks. But in terms of developmental prospects, there may not be a better one than Bridge. The 6’5″, 235-pounder boasts tremendous arm strength and athleticism but has to make drastic improvements with his accuracy.
RB: Thomas Rawls, Central Michigan: The former Michigan Wolverine transferred to Central Michigan for his senior year and managed to run for 1,103 yards and 10 touchdowns while earning second-team All-MAC honors. He does bring character concerns, but Rawls is compact, powerful and tough—just how the Seahawks like to play.
RB: Zach Zenner, South Dakota State: Unlike Rawls, Zenner is an elite athlete who’s completely clean off the field. Oh, and he also posted three straight 2,000-yard seasons and averaged nearly 6 yards per carry as a senior. Zenner absolutely tore up the combine (41″ vertical, 10’1″ broad jump) and is extremely intelligent (35 Wonderlic). Even if he doesn’t stick in a somewhat crowded Detroit backfield, he’ll make someone’s active roster.
WR: Dres Anderson, Utah: Once viewed as a mid-round prospect, a torn meniscus suffered in October ended up knocking Anderson out of the draft entirely. However, he rebounded with a solid pro day performance, proving that he’s healthy enough to contribute. With NFL bloodlines, solid speed and good ball skills, Anderson has a chance at making the 49ers roster.
WR: DeVante Davis, UNLV: Despite dominating the Mountain West Conference to the tune of 186 catches, 2,875 yards and 22 career touchdowns, Davis didn’t hear his name called. A wrist injury that cost him five games could be to blame. Still, the 6’3″, 220-pounder showed good athleticism and could endear himself to Chip Kelly with excellent work after the catch.
TE: Wes Saxton, South Alabama: One of the guys who had to deal with Bridge’s inaccuracy issues, Saxton’s production tailed off as a senior (just 20 catches) after a 50-catch junior campaign. On the hoof, he’s one of the better tight end prospects in this class (4.65 40-yard dash, 36″ vertical). That athleticism could allow him to make the Jets’ roster.
OT: La’el Collins, LSU: Let’s be honest, Collins doesn’t belong on this list. He was a first-round talent who had no control over his circumstances and should start at guard or right tackle on the best offensive line in football.
OT: Rob Crisp, North Carolina State: Ranking behind only Collins on NFL.com’s undrafted offensive linemen rankings, Crisp’s injury issues pretty much exclusively kept him from getting drafted. The 26-game starter suffered a litany of injuries at NC State, but has NFL tools and size. Crisp faces an uphill battle to make the active roster in Arizona given the team drafted D.J. Humphries in the first round.
OG: Josue Matias, FSU: Part of a stacked FSU offensive line, Matias mysteriously went undrafted. That qualified as a mild shock after teammates Cameron Erving, Tre’ Jackson and Bobby Hart were all selected. Matias’ poor pre-draft workouts could have led to his draft demise, but the 43-game starter was seen as a superior prospect than Jackson in some evaluators’ eyes.
OG: Sean Hickey, Syracuse: Justin Pugh’s successor at Syracuse, Hickey profiled very similarly to the current Giants starter. Viewed as a likely guard convert, the 6’5″, 309-pounder performed well at his pro day, yet he didn’t even garner a seventh-round selection. Given his experience and talent, Hickey stands a good shot at making the Saints’ practice squad or even their active roster given their new emphasis on running the ball.
C: Reese Dismukes, Auburn: The 2014 Rimington Award winner and 50-game starter was the heart and soul of Auburn’s offense. Unfortunately, he’s undersized and only an average athlete for the position. The two-time All-SEC selection signed with the Steelers and could carve out a career as Maurkice Pouncey’s backup, if not a low-end starter for another NFL franchise.