Every season, some extremely talented players slip through the cracks of the NFL Draft and wind up signing as undrafted free agents with NFL teams. This year's UDFA class is far more talented than most, and a few players from this year's UDFA class could make significant impacts in the NFL early in their careers. Here are some of my favorites.
Ben Beckwith, OG, San Diego Chargers. Everyone is talking about La'el Collins with the Cowboys, but Beckwith might mave more upside as a prospect than Collins. Ben Beckwith's story is fantastic; he's heading into camp with the Chargers after walking on at Mississippi State, and has the talent and the determination to stick in the NFL. We covered Ben as a prospect heading into the draft (article here) and were shocked when he went undrafted. Beckwith is an extremely competitive player with a knack for beating the odds and works hard to help his team (here's a great article that offers a nice insight into Ben's personality.). I expect him to not only last in the NFL, but to thrive as a positive locker room presence (and also a fun teammate with a great sense of humor, judging from this twitter post). Beckwith is one of the most focused, hardest working prospects in the league, and has the potential to be a special player, and could be one of the biggest rookie steals in 2015. He's definitely one of my favorite players in this year's rookie class. He's not a household name yet, but given his career trajectory so far, he could be by the time he retires.
La'el Collins, OG, Dallas Cowboys. Collins is probably the most well-known UDFA in 2015 after tumbling from a projected first or second round selection out of the draft, following questions surrounding a death that Collins was questioned about. I think the hype on Collins was legitimate, and he has the talent to stick on an NFL roster following his tumble out of the draft, but he will have to overcome distractions as he works his way into the league. He should stick with the Cowboys, and if he can stay focused, should last for a number of years in the NFL. Him and Beckwith are definitely the top two offensive lineman UDFAs in 2015.
Josh Harper, WR, Oakland Raiders. Who was one of quarterback Derek Carr's top receivers in college? That's right. Josh Harper. Now that he'll be paired with Carr again, Harper should make a noticeable impact on the Oakland offense. While Amari Cooper is the top rookie in the Oakland offense, Harper could emerge as a surprisingly significant player early on in his career given his familiarity with Carr. He should be fun to watch develop.
Cody Prewitt, S, Tennessee Titans. Prewitt is a safety who many experts had projected as a day 2 pick in the draft, yet he tumbled out of the draft inexplicably. He's probably the hardest hitting safety in this year's draft class, and while much of what he does on film is average by NFL standards, every so often he has those special moments that suggest that he can be a capable player in the league. I like Prewitt a lot as a defensive player, and expect him to have a solid training camp and preseason. He should be fun to watch.
Zach Zenner, RB, Detroit Lions. Zenner is one of the most underrated running backs of this year's class. He had solid production throughout college, including against top tier competition, and has similar upside to Jay Ajayi. While there are players ahead of Zenner in the Lions backfield currently, with a strong camp, he could carve out significant playing time in a committee. For more on Zenner's ability as a player, click here.
Every player in an NFL camp is talented, and there are plenty of other talented UDFAs this season, but these guys are my top five. Each of them has the talent to be a special player in the NFL, and I'm excited to watch them in camp. Football is back; let's enjoy it!
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