Sometimes NFL teams, full of professionals who scout and evaluate talent for a living, just miss on certain guys. Every now and then, a player falls through the cracks for one reason or another. There are several excellent football players that were not selected in this year’s draft. Here’s a look at the best of this year’s crop of undrafted free agents, guys who are likely to show that have some serious value to add to an NFL roster.
At 6-foot-2 and 254 pounds, Mata’afa spent most of his college career at Washington State as an interior defensive lineman. That’s right. At just over 250 pounds, Mata’afa battled 300-pound linemen every Saturday. The Minnesota Vikings signed the former Cougar to be an edge rusher something that Mata’afa can be very good at for one reason – his motor. He is absolutely relentless and it shows on film. He repeatedly proved that he can beat bigger FBS offensive linemen in both the run and pass game.
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Injuries and the lack of an ideal frame at linebacker likely scared off teams on draft day, but Moore can play, especially against the pass. At 6-2 and 226 pounds, Moore is not as solid against the run, but he is an elite pass defender. His coverage grades prior to the draft were equal to or better than No. 8 overall pick Roquan Smith of Georgia. He can become a role player on a suspect Indianapolis defense.
At Virginia, Blanding proved his value against the run totaling more run stops than any other draft-eligible safety. The problem is that despite his ideal frame – 6-2 and 207 pounds – Blanding ran 4.62 in the 40-yard dash. While he slipped through the cracks of the draft, the Redskins likely remembered that Blanding was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and is a guy that can develop into a well-rounded safety.
When you are a 6-3, 255-pound defensive end, many teams may cast you aside just based on size. When you are a 6-3, 255-pound DE at Central Michigan, well…you just aren’t going to claim the respect of a player coming from a Power 5 conference. So it goes for Ostman who recorded 14 sacks, 31 QB hurries and nine QB hits last season for the Chippewas. Super Bowl champion Philadelphia understands the need for capable pass rushers and took a chance of Ostman, a guy that can deliver.
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One look at Wallace, a one-year starter at Alabama, and you would see why he went undrafted in 2018. He is only 6-feet tall and weighs just 179 pounds, but he plays much bigger. His 40 time is downright pedestrian for an NFL cornerback – 4.62 seconds – but he plays much faster. Across his 782 snaps last season at ‘Bama, Wallace was one of the most efficient corners in the country. The Buffalo Bills signed Wallace in the hopes that he can bulk up and continue his outstanding play from a year ago.
It’s not every day that you can pick up a 6-5, 227-pound wide receiver. It’s also not every day that you can get one as good as Lazard as an undrafted free agent. Lazard is more of a possession receiver and has the ability to make big catches when needed. He did it at Iowa State repeatedly. What he lacks is quickness and the ability to make big plays after a catch. Still, he is a big receiver who ran 4.55 in the 40 and has a 38-inch vertical jump. Jacksonville got a steal in acquiring another receiver who can create mismatches for the Jags.
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A Texas native, Shimonek transferred from Iowa to Texas Tech in 2014. After serving as Patrick Mahomes backup last year, the 6-3, 220-pound Shimonek threw for 3,963 yards and 33 touchdowns for the Red Raiders. He is excellent when he is on the move showing a big league arm. He also shows big-league patience working through his reads. While his release is a little slow and he does have some issues with fitting balls into tight windows, the Chargers decided to take a chance on a guy who could develop into a quality NFL backup.