Five Intriguing Undrafted Free Agents

Five Intriguing Undrafted Free Agents
Reading Time: 4 minutes.
Not all rookies come through the draft, some are signed afterwards as undrafted free agents. Here’s some to keep an eye

The NFL draft is over for another year, but don’t worry you can already find some 2024 mocks! But while 259 players were drafted not all NFL players are signed via the draft. As of the 2nd of May 152 rookies were signed as undrafted free agents. Undrafted free agents are the buried treasure of the NFL, they’re cheaper than the drafted players but often as important. Wes Welker, Tony Romo and Antonio Gates were all signed as undrafted free agents and they did ok. 

An NFL offseason roster can have 90 players on it and undrafted free agents are the cheapest option to fill a roster so there are plenty of them about. This year the Chargers got off to a hot start, they signed 18 on the first day. 

Matt Landers – Wide receiver 

Landers signed with the Seahawks who are absolutely loaded with receivers. There are currently 12 wide outs in Seattle, so he’s not guaranteed to make the final roster. Only three of the Seahawks receivers are over 6 feet 2 inches tall though, Landers is the tallest. He’s 6 feet 4 and 3/8 inches tall. Seattle have signed Another tall undrafted free agent receiver, John Hall. Hall is over 6 feet three inches tall, but he’s a very different style receiver. Hall is more of an out-and-out deep threat, excelling at running past defenders on post routes. 

Landers has a touch of Plaxico Burress about him. Although he’s not the most physical with ball in hand and he did run a 4.37 second 40-yard dash. Burress clocked a 4.59 back in the day. What Landers excels at is finding space in a defense. Getting open is more of an innate talent than a learned skill. Like Burress Landers’ height makes him awkward for most defensive backs to cover. He’s also tricky to tackle one on one as his long arms not only help him to bring in jump balls but keep defenders away. 

If he makes the Seahawks roster, he will be behind Metcalf, Lockett and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (provided they all stay healthy) but he could be an interesting redzone weapon. If he doesn’t make the cut in Seattle, it’s easy to imagine other teams will want to take a look at his skill set. 

Xazavian Valladay – Running back 

During his college career he ran for 1,000 yards in a season three times. He spent five years at college though, partly due to COVID but also because he transferred to Arizona State after four years at the University of Wyoming. He arrived in Arizona to replace Rachaad White who was drafted by the Bucanneers in 2022.  

Valladay is Darren Sproles-esque, diminutive in stature but with an uncanny ability to find the endzone. He’s actually listed at 5 feet 11 inches, that would make him five inches taller than Sproles, but Valladay doesn’t look that statuesque. Valladay also ran a quicker 40-yard dash than Sproles, but the difference between his 4.43 seconds and Sproles’ 4.49 seconds is minimal. In 2022 he scored 16 touchdowns and averaged 5.66 yards per carry. 

The Texans do have five running backs currently on their roster, but Valladay looks to add something different. He could be a very useful third down back and he’d be fun to watch behind the huge offensive line they’re building in Houston.  

Michael Ezeike – Tight End 

Ezeike is a tight end the way that Jody Fortson is a tight end. Like Fortson Ezieke began his UCLA career as a receiver before switching to tight end. The Chargers signed Ezieke so he gets to stay in Los angeles for a little while longer.

Ezieke is a standout athlete who still runs like a wide receiver in the open field but at six feet five inches tall and around 245lbs he’s even bigger than Mike Thomas. One scouting report said, “he’s continuing to grow into his frame”! Obviously, he’s a matchup nightmare at that size, too big for most defensive backs and too big and fast for most linebackers. His poor route running may negatively impact his chances of a roster spot. If he does take the field at any stage in 2023 Justin Herbert will be pleased to see him. 

Tiyon Evans – Running back 

He’s your boiler plate “one cut back” who seems to love running between the tackles and is rarely stopped by the first defender. But Evans is far from a one trick pony. He’s also able to run stretch plays outside the tackles and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry last season at Louisville and scored 6 touchdowns on 83 carries. He did fumble three times so that’s something the Rams will be watching out for. 

Currently the Rams running back depth chart is Cam Akers, then two players with very little experience and two rookies including Evans. Kyren Williams carried 35 times in 2022 and Ronnie Rivers carried nine times. They drafted Zach Evans in the sixth round after his first full season of college football. He scored 10 touchdowns and averaged 6.8 yards per touch. Tiyon Evans has a real chance of becoming Akers’ back up in 2023. 

Deneric Prince – Running back 

Kansas City signed the Tulsa product after the draft, so you know he’s going to be fun to watch. Playing FBS football at college obviously means he wasn’t facing the best defences but what stands out is his speed and that’s not affected by defenders. 

Prince ran a 4.41 40-yard dash, which is just 0.04 slower than the Chiefs 2022 draft find Isiah Pacheco, their 10-yard splits were also 0.04 seconds apart (1.53 and 1.49 respectively). So, he definitely fits Kansas City’s running back profile. 

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