1 UDFA That Can Make Each 2021 NFL Roster

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The 2021 NFL Draft is in the books, and rosters across the league are taking shape. While the majority of the hype is put on each team’s drafted rookies, there are undrafted free agents (UDFAs) that fight their way onto rosters and find a way to make an impact. While they are not household names, they may be a key cog for your team this season.

Let’s take a look at an UDFA that can make each of the 32 NFL teams for the 2021 season.

UDFAs That Can Make Each 2021 NFL Roster

Arizona Cardinals

Lorenzo Burns, CB, Arizona

The Cardinals gave tight end Cary Angeline a slightly bigger bonus than Lorenzo Burns, but I feel the former Wildcat brings more to the table. Burns isn’t going to blow anyone away with his size (5’10”, 183) or speed (4.54), but he has excellent instincts that helped him knock down 35 passes and collect nine interceptions in 40 career starts.

He’s also extremely active in the run game, making 192 stops, including a career-high 81 as a redshirt freshman. Burns can compete to help this rebuilt secondary in the slot while also impacting the special teams units immediately.

Atlanta Falcons

Javian Hawkins, RB, Louisville

Considering Felipe Franks is one of only three quarterbacks under contract, I could have gone in that direction. Still, I honestly thought Javian Hawkins would be drafted as one of this class’s most explosive playmakers out of the backfield.

He’s certainly not the biggest back (5’8”, 183), but his speed (4.45) and lateral quickness (6.95 three-cone) are exceptional. Hawkins continuously terrorized defenses averaging 5.9 yards a carry on 399 career attempts and 9.0 yards a catch on 21 receptions.

He’s instantly one of Atlanta’s most athletic backs in a group with very little experience behind Mike Davis. The Falcons also saw fit to give him aa signing bonus of $35K, the most of their post-draft haul.

Baltimore Ravens

Ar’Darius Washington, S, TCU

Baltimore was one of the more aggressive teams following the draft, luring not one but two players with six-figure signing bonuses. Ar’Darius Washington was one as an undersized, versatile safety that many thought would hear his name called on day three.

Still, his size (5’8”, 176) and average performance at his Pro Day were likely factors in the former Freshman All-American going undrafted. On the field, he is an instinctive player in both coverage and the run game, that plays like he’s much bigger.

Washington is the kind of player that can carve out a role in sub-packages, whether in the slot or lined up deep. The Ravens have room in their secondary for a versatile player like him.

Buffalo Bills

Olaijah Griffin, CB, USC

This came down to a pair of corners in Olaijah Griffin and Nick McCloud. I believe McCloud has a reasonable chance to make this team due to his mental makeup and ability to immediately help on special teams. Still, Griffin is a former five-star recruit that hasn’t played up to his full potential yet.

He’s got excellent feet and long arms but needs to get more physical and polished to compete in the NFL. Still, he could turn into an interesting project for a defense built on getting pressure and creating opportunities for their defensive backs. Tariq Thompson could also push for a final spot as someone like McCloud, who is coachable and a natural fit on special teams.

Carolina Panthers

David Moore, OL, Grambling State

There are several intriguing options in Carolina’s group of undrafted signees. For starters, I don’t think you make a fullback like Mason Stokke a priority after the draft without having a role in mind for him. The Panthers don’t have another fullback on the roster, so there is a realistic path to him making this team.

Still, David Moore was their big catch following the draft, and someone I thought could go in the fifth or sixth round. He’s got a broad build with terrific arm length and impressive power. He will need some refinement to compete against NFL-caliber defensive linemen, but I thought he helped his case by proving he could play all three interior positions at the Senior Bowl. That will come in handy on an offensive line looking for depth.

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Credit: Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Chicago Bears

Charles Snowden, OLB, Virginia

Charles Snowden has a very good chance at making this team, thanks to his outstanding length (35-inch arms), size (6’6”) and athleticism. He was a three-year starter as an outside linebacker in an odd-man front just like Chicago’s. In 35 starts, he had 15 sacks, 30.5 tackles for loss and 18 pass breakups.

He also blocked several kicks on special teams. Snowden needs to get stronger to make the most of his physical gifts, but he could push to be a pass-rush specialist and special-teamer right away.

Cincinnati Bengals

Pro Wells, TE, TCU

The Bengals haven’t gotten a ton of production out of their tight end position in the passing game in recent years, and Wells can change that. Despite TCU’s underwhelming passing attack, Wells was a bright spot as someone with the athleticism to separate and ball skills to make plays in traffic.

He also has more of an H-Back skillset, which would complement Drew Sample and C.J. Uzomah well. I thought he’d be a little more physical coming out of TCU, considering they ran the ball far more than they threw it. Still, Pro Wells can continue to develop in that area, and of this group, he’s got the best chance of earning a spot.

Cleveland Browns

Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State

Marvin Wilson ’s draft stock was a polarizing case. As a five-star recruit, there were lofty expectations for him coming to Tallahassee, and he started living up to them in 2018 and 2019. However, like most on that Florida State defense, his technical development was stalled because of constant shifts in coaching.

Add some injury and weight issues, and it appeared teams were unwilling to wager a draft pick on him. However, when his weight is under control, which was not the case in 2020 or at the Senior Bowl, he has the upside that can be groomed into NFL-caliber defensive tackle. The Browns have made several veteran additions at the position, but nothing so binding that he can’t force his way onto the roster with a good camp.

Dallas Cowboys

Anthony Hines, LB, Texas A&M

The Cowboys have a few names that could push for a spot on this roster. Safety Tyler Coyle is an extremely athletic player at a position that is far from set in Dallas. He had a sensational career at UConn but was far less impressive in his one year at Purdue.

The Cowboys also brought in fullback Nick Ralston who plays with impressive physicality. He could push Dallas to consider keeping a fullback, and his history as a linebacker makes him a lock to help on special teams.

Still, Anthony Hines fits the profile of what Dan Quinn wants at linebacker with his terrific quickness and pursuit speed. He saw limited time at Texas A&M because of an injury and opt-out, but he has a lot of upside if he develops instinctually.

Denver Broncos

Curtis Robinson, LB, Stanford

The Broncos gave Drew Himmelman a big signing bonus to be part of a tackle group that is less-than-impressive behind Garett Bolles. That should provide him with plenty of opportunity to make this team, but I’m going with Robinson.

Curtis Robinson is a very athletic player with good size (6’3”) to play either inside linebacker position. My biggest issue with his game is he gets caught up on blocks too much, and I’m not sure he diagnoses blocking schemes or locates the ball quickly enough. Still, his skill set will be an asset on special teams, and if his instincts catch up, he can be a versatile depth piece.

Detroit Lions

Jonathan Adams, WR, Arkansas State

I went back and forth between Jonathan Adams and Tommy Kraemer. Kraemer is a tough, versatile player that can compete to back up several positions. Still, Adams’ upside gives him a chance to be on the gameday roster. He’s got excellent size (6’2″) and can elevate with ease to pull in 50-50 balls.

I honestly thought he’d be drafted, although he is a bit unpolished as a route runner and tends to run before he’s secured the ball leading to drops. If he cleans up those to areas in camp, he can help at a position that has little talent on the Lions’ roster.

Green Bay Packers

Christian Uphoff, S, Illinois State

I’m not exactly confident in the chances of anyone in this group, but Christian Uphoff has some untapped potential and the build to hold up on special teams. At 6’2” and 209 pounds, he has a projectable frame that can continue to add bulk.

However, he only had one season of production as a starter, and that inexperience shows as it pertains to the way he sees the game. His athleticism was enough to make up for it at the FCS level, but if he’s going to make Green Bay’s roster as more than a special teamer, Uphoff needs to learn on the fly.

Houston Texans

Ryan McCollum, C, Texas A&M

The Texans have plenty of room on their roster to improve, and I’d be hard-pressed to write off anyone’s chances of competing for a job. McCollum has experience at all three interior positions and has the size (6’5”) and length (33-inch arms) to hold up in the NFL.

His lower half and frame could add strength to help compound his ability to get his hands on his opponent, and with it, he will need to learn to play with better pad level. Still, Ryan McCollum is coachable, and a good camp could result in him adding valuable depth to this team.

Indianapolis Colts

Deon Jackson, RB, Duke

It’s going to be tough for any of the Colts undrafted rookies to crack that roster, but I went with Deon Jackson for a reason. Indianapolis has four experienced backs, and it would shock me if teams came calling for one near the end of training camp.

If so, Jackson could carve out a role as a reserve back. He’s got big-play speed, and as he develops more as a pass-catcher, he can be a weapon on this offense. In the meantime, he does have a skill set that can help on special teams.

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Credit: University of Alabama Athletics

Jacksonville Jaguars

Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

Dylan Moses’ knee must have drawn some serious concerns for him to go undrafted, because the talent is there for him to be an NFL linebacker. Before the injury, Moses had the instincts and pursuit speed to be a top-50 pick.

He also showed an advanced feel in coverage, which may be where he can help as a sub-package linebacker early in his career. If the knee can hold up, I still believe he can get there, but there is clearly some doubt in that regard. I’m also keeping my eye on D.J. Daniel, who was a versatile defensive back at Georgia. He can also have an immediate impact on special teams.

Kansas City Chiefs

Malik Herring, DL, Georgia

It will be interesting to see where the Chiefs believe Malik Herring fits in their defense. I see him as a candidate to add more weight and kick inside. However, he will obviously have to heal from a torn ACL, and the Chiefs may choose to redshirt him for a year on injured reserve.

Whichever they decide, Herring has a strong chance of turning heads with his surprising athleticism and balance for a player around 280 pounds. He’s more capable of stopping the run than the pass at this point, but I think a lot of his best football is ahead of him.

Las Vegas Raiders

Darius Stills, DT, West Virginia

The Raiders lured in several undrafted free agents with guaranteed bonuses, but I’m not going with any of those four. Instead, I’m going with a player that is a carbon copy of what defensive line coach Rod Marinelli wants on his front.

Marinelli covets undersized penetrators on his defensive line that play with outstanding tenacity. Darius Stills is an explosive player that fires out low and shows good balance during the rep. At 278 pounds, he changes direction well and shows good pursuit speed with consistent effort.

The Raiders have plenty of room for competition on their defensive line, giving Stills a reasonable path to making this roster.

Los Angeles Chargers

Amen Ogbongbemiga, LB, Oklahoma State

Amen Ogbongbemiga is a player I thought would hear his name called late on day three as a player with a skill set that can translate immediately on special teams. The former Poke is a very athletic linebacker that shows a knack for chasing down plays in pursuit.

However, he is a bit undersized (6’1”, 231) with a narrow build, and he struggles to get off blocks. Still, he’s got a reputation as an outstanding worker, giving Ogbongbemiga a fighting chance at making this roster.

Los Angeles Rams

Paris Ford, S, Pittsburgh

The Rams agreed to contracts with 11 players after the draft, and while I’m not sure any have any easy path to this roster, Paris Ford is the one I had ranked highest of the bunch. There is no doubt that his disappointing Pro Day resulted in him going undrafted, but his tape shows a much better athlete who always competes at full speed.

Ford flies around the field with reckless abandon, and while he doesn’t always tackle with discipline, he arrives at the ball carrier with a thump. This could help him become a special-teams ace at the next level, which could give him a chance to grab a final spot on the roster.

Miami Dolphins

Robert Jones, G, Middle Tennessee

Robert Jones was the obvious choice. Many had a draftable grade on Jones, and I honestly thought he’d hear his name called as early as the fifth round. He has physical limitations that will force him inside in the NFL, but he was a guard at the JUCO level, so he has experience.

In fact, Miami was willing to give him $130K as a signing bonus to ensure his services. Jones is powerful and plays with a nasty attitude. He also has good arm length, but he needs to learn to trust it more by installing a more patient approach. Still, with some technical refining, Jones can not only make this team but even compete for a starting job down the road.

Minnesota Vikings

Riley Patterson, K, Memphis

The Vikings were able to sign several intriguing undrafted free agents, but none has a clearer path to a roster spot than Riley Patterson. He chose to sign with Minnesota after having numerous suitors after the draft because of the coaches on this staff and the opportunity to be in an open competition during training camp.

Greg Joseph has only attempted 20 field goal attempts at the NFL level, meaning the job is far from locked up. Patterson was a four-year contributor at Memphis, where he put up 432 points (ranks 23 in NCAA history) with a career-long of 56 yards.

New England Patriots

Quinn Nordin, K, Michigan

It’s not that I’m overly optimistic that Norton can win the job over Nick Folk and Roberto Aguayo. Some could even argue he’s just a camp leg after making only two of his five attempts as a senior and never completing a season with a field goal percentage above 80 percent.

However, Quinn Nordin is the only rookie free agent that New England has signed to this point, drawing questions from many. Undrafted free agents make the roster every year across the league, despite not counting against the cap until they’ve made the team thanks to Rule of 51. I get New England has earned the right to take unconventional paths.

Still, after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and watching Tom Brady lead Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl, you’d think that people are going to start keeping tabs on how often they work as opposed to giving the Patriots the benefit of the doubt. That’s what happens when a dynasty comes to an end.

New Orleans Saints

Dylan Soehner, TE, Iowa State

Dylan Soehner is a massive tight end that garnered honorable mention by the conference in back-to-back years despite only catching 25 passes and one touchdown in that span. Why did he garner that kind of respect in the Big 12, which is full of pass-catching tight ends?

The answer is Soehner’s ability to be an asset in the run game as a blocker. He does an excellent job driving his feet when he locks onto opponents and shows good balance in pass protection. Soehner has also been a consistent contributor on special teams at Iowa State.

This is the type of player that can grab a job as a third or fourth tight end, and the fact that New Orleans gave him a $120K signing bonus shows that they believe he has a chance at doing just that.

New York Giants

Brett Heggie, OL, Florida

The Giants haven’t been overly active bringing in undrafted free agents, but Brett Heggie has the kind of versatility teams look for in a reserve offensive lineman. He started as a left guard as a redshirt freshman before a pair of injuries end his season.

From there, he regained his starting job in 2019, seeing time at both right and left guard before becoming the starting center last fall. He’s got terrific size (6’4” 310) for the interior, and the Giants need more pieces on their line, whether it’s the starting five or depth.

New York Jets

Hamilcar Rashed, OLB/DE, Oregon State

The Jets class of undrafted signees should have plenty of opportunities considering the lack of talent on this roster. I genuinely feel that several players have a strong chance at making this team. Linebacker Milo Eifler is an explosive player with the upside to be groomed into a contributor on the defense at some point.

Hamilcar Rashed could also instantly help on special teams. Kenny Yeboah is a raw, athletic tight end, and the Jets need as many weapons as they can get for Zach Wilson. Still, Rashed is my pick as an edge rusher. The Jets got little pressure off the edge a year ago, as their leading sack man was Quinnen Williams with seven from the interior.

The next best mark was 3.5 sacks by Tarell Basham, who is no longer on the team. Rashed is an extremely athletic edge rusher that had 14 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss in 2019 alone. There is room on the roster for a guy like Rashed, even if it’s just as a pass-rush specialist while they attempt to beef him up.

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Credit: Nell Redmond/AP Photo

Philadelphia Eagles

Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest

I am a huge fan of wide receiver Trevon Grimes and thought he would be drafted as early as the fifth round. At 6’4” with near 31.5-inch arms, he’s a big target that separates reasonably well for a receiver his size making him a reliable target.

Still, Philadelphia has used a lot of resources on pass catchers over the past several years, which may limit his chances in camp. That’s why I went with Jamie Newman. He’s one of only three quarterbacks on the roster and has some untapped potential that could be groomed into a future second-string signal-caller. It’s going to take patience as his decision-making needs to speed up and improve in general. Still, Newman has an NFL arm.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Shakur Brown, CB, Michigan State

There were others that liked Shakur Brown more than me coming into this draft, but I still felt he would be drafted at some point on day three. He’s an aggressive player that springs into action the second he diagnoses a route or play.

Brown doesn’t have great size or recovery speed, which makes me think that he is destined for the slot. However, his best football is still ahead of him if the Steelers can be patient, and we saw a glimpse of that development in 2020 when he picked off five passes and knocked down nine more in just seven games.

San Francisco 49ers

Justin Hilliard, LB, Ohio State

Justin Hilliard is another player I had a day-three grade on, and his injury history and age (24) likely played a big part in him going undrafted. Still, the guy has play speed that eclipses his test numbers and versatility to back up multiple positions early in his career.

He is also a willing participant on special teams, and it says a lot about how the staff found reps for him over the past year despite having well-established players at all three linebacker positions. Hilliard obviously had a lot of respect in the Ohio State locker room, and if that kind of player shows up at training camp, it’s going to be hard to keep him off the San Francisco roster.

Seattle Seahawks

Tamorrion Terry, WR, Florida State

Seattle was very active following the draft and secured several players with a realistic shot of cracking the roster. Running backs Josh Johnson and B.J. Emmons are both talented and could force their way onto a team that can’t seem to get it right at the position since Marshawn Lynch left.

Cornerback Bryan Mills is the kind of tall, long-armed corner that Seattle covets, but he needs a lot of refinement and may have to prove he can contribute on special teams to earn the Seahawks’ patience. Still, I went with Tamorrion Terry because he’s a highly talented wide receiver.

He flashes big plays that led me to believe he could be a top-three receiver on a roster but lacks discipline in a variety of areas with his game. Of all the players on this list, I believe Terry is the one with the most control over whether or not he makes a roster.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sadarius Hutcherson, G, South Carolina

There’s not much room for young players to carve out a spot on this roster, but I really like Sadarius Hutcherson’s chances. Tampa Bay doesn’t have a ton of depth on their offensive line giving him a fighting chance. Hutcherson is a powerful player that plays with great pad level.

He’s a great leader and displays an admirable work ethic which was evident at his impressive Pro Day. His feet can get heavy, and his arm length forces him to lunge at times, but with patience, he can be developed into an NFL-caliber guard.

Tennessee Titans

Tory Carter, FB, LSU

This came down to Tory Carter and defensive tackle Naquan Jones. Jones is a big, long-armed run stuffer that can plug up the middle. He doesn’t offer much more than that, but in this scheme, he can be a nose tackle in the base defense if he learns to play with better pad level consistently.

Still, Carter is the one I’m going with here. Tennessee made him a priority signing by giving him a $50K signing bonus (highest of any of their UDFA), which means they wanted him in Tennessee. With that in mind, and considering he’s the only fullback on the roster, I’d say Carter has a strong chance at sticking on this team.

To say he’s a physical player is an understatement. He yearns for contact when he’s on the field, both as a lead blocker and special teamer.

Washington Football Team

Sammis Reyes, TE, Tulane

Sammis Reyes is the wild card of this list, and for those who don’t know much about him, don’t be concerned. No one does. The Chilean-born former basketball player put on a show at Florida’s Pro Day to prove he can be the latest hoopster to transition to the gridiron.

After playing basketball at Tulane, Reyes turned his attention to football and preparing to make an NFL roster. At his Pro Day workout, he measured 6’5” and 260 pounds while running a 4.64 and putting up 31 bench press reps. He also showed that rebounding elevation that will make him a go-to target in the red zone with a 40-inch vertical jump.

It’s a very intriguing skill set that led to Washington giving Reyes a signing bonus of just under $393K, by far the biggest bonus of any undrafted player this year. Still, prior to his pre-draft workouts, his football experience consisted of a week of high school practice before deciding to stick to basketball.

He’ll also be 26 this fall. His window for success may not be large, especially considering the amount of patience his development will take, but it will be fun to watch.

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