DE: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas (Seattle Seahawks)
While much of the nation fixated on Michael Sam’s slide to nearly going undrafted, there was another major conference’s defensive player of the year who actually didn’t get selected. And despite the conspiracy theories that many have on why Sam was a late seventh-round pick, Big 12 defensive player of the year and first-team AP All-American Jackson Jeffcoat likely fell for the same reasons.
No, I’m not making any suggestions about Jeffcoat’s sexuality; Jeffcoat, like Sam, is an undersized edge rusher with limited explosiveness, which might keep his success from translating to the next level. That said, he is a solid all-around athlete who has a proven ability to get after the quarterback, as evidenced by his 13 sacks in his senior year.
Jeffcoat would be best suited to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, as he is a solid tackler and run defender in pursuit but can be overpowered at the line of scrimmage. Nonetheless, he has potential as a rotational defensive end, where the Seahawks have a need for depth.
DE: Ethan Westbrooks, West Texas A&M (St. Louis Rams)
The biggest threat to Michael Sam’s chances to make the St. Louis Rams roster might actually come from the team’s undrafted free agent signings. While Westbrooks’ dominance at the small-school level makes for a tough projection than Sam’s production in the SEC, Westbrooks might actually have the more translatable NFL skill set of the two players.
Small-school defensive ends who run 4.9-second 40-yard dashes don’t usually get drafted, but Westbrooks has the talent to make the leap from the Division II level, where he posted a whopping 47.5 tackles for loss (26.5 sacks) in just two seasons at West Texas A&M. He is a 6’3”, 267-pound defensive end with a quick first step and effective pass-rushing moves.
With a two-deep at defensive end that includes Robert Quinn, Chris Long, William Hayes and Eugene Sims, the Rams should have no more than one additional roster spot available at the position. Sam might be more NFL-ready as Westbrooks has to become a more disciplined player while making a big leap in competition, but although keeping Westbrooks over Sam would be a heavily scrutinized decision, it could very well make sense for football reasons.
DT: Deandre Coleman, California (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Deandre Coleman wasn’t incredibly productive during his California career and didn’t take the expected strides in his senior season, but it’s a bit of a surprise, given his proven ability to be disruptive and an intriguing combination of size (6’5”, 314 lbs) and athleticism, that he went completely undrafted.
Coleman is strong, powerful and is a strong gap-plugger, yet he also has the quickness to penetrate and make plays in the backfield. His skill set gives him the versatility to play multiple roles on a defense, but he’s an especially good fit for the Jaguars.
Their defensive tackle is often used like a 3-4 defensive end would be, allowing Coleman to play both 3-technique and 5-technique roles. With the added versatility to play nose tackle, Coleman should have a good chance to earn a spot on a team that needed defensive tackle depth yet didn’t draft anyone at the position.
NT: Zach Kerr, Delaware (Indianapolis Colts)
With no discretion to specific defensive tackle positions, this spot would have gone to South Carolina’s Kelcy Quarles, but while Coleman gets the nod over Quarles among penetrating tackles, Zach Kerr is the best run-stuffing nose tackle from this year’s draft class to go unselected.
Kerr looks short and stocky at 6’1” and 326 pounds, but he has great point-of-attack strength, can win with power and has impressive athleticism for his size. The small-school standout is a great fit for the middle of a 3-4 defense like that of the Colts, where he should have a great shot to make the roster as Josh Chapman’s backup.
OLB: Christian Jones, Florida State (Chicago Bears)
Jones’ draft stock fell back down to earth after being one of the 2014 draft class’ most overhyped players going into his senior season, but it still comes as a surprise that he went completely undrafted.
A rangy linebacker who is fluid in coverage but also makes plays around the line of scrimmage, Jones has the versatility to play both outside and inside linebacker. He never played up to his potential at Florida State, however, and he didn’t prove to be as big or athletic as expected in pre-draft testing.
Jones also failed his drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine, according to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, which didn’t help his cause. Nonetheless, he is an intriguing developmental project with more than enough talent to end up earning a spot on the Bears’ roster as a backup linebacker.
OLB: Derrell Johnson, East Carolina (Miami Dolphins)
There’s nothing that particularly stands out about Derrell Johnson’s game, but he brings great versatility to a defense. While he is only 6’1” and is not a tremendously explosive athlete, Johnson has the ability to rush the passer off the edge while he also moves well fluidly in space and can drop back into coverage.
Johnson, who was compared by a scout prior to the draft to former Steelers great James Harrison, according to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, could prove to be a valuable role player as a rotational strongside linebacker and special teamer at the next level. On a Dolphins defense that has limited linebacker depth, he should have a shot to win a job as Koa Misi’s backup at SLB.
ILB: Shayne Skov, Stanford (San Francisco 49ers)
Perhaps the most surprising player to go undrafted, Skov’s fall out of the draft was likely sparked by medical concerns, including a 2011 knee injury from which he might never have fully recovered and an apparent hamstring injury that kept out of the NFL Scouting Combine and his pro day. When he finally worked out for scouts in late April, he ran a 5.11-second 40-yard dash, according to Andy Drukarev of CardinalSportsReport.com, which didn’t help his cause.
Skov’s drop from the draft didn’t surprise BBD assistant editor Joe Marino, who considered Skov to be a fringe draft pick going into his senior season, but he was the top player to go unselected from my top 100 prospect rankings. While his subpar speed could be a limiting factor, he is an instinctive player who has a nose for the football and makes plays outside his zone by always going full speed.
While falling out of the draft was certainly disappointing for Skov, he might have landed with the perfect team in undrafted free agency. By joining the 49ers, he will be reunited with Jim Harbaugh, his former head coach at Stanford. Ultimately, however, his chances of making the team will be in part determined by the health of NaVorro Bowman, who is coming off a major injury, as the 49ers already drafted one rotational linebacker with a third-round pick in Wisconsin’s Chris Borland.
CB: Chris Davis, Auburn (San Diego Chargers)
Despite having the skill set to be an NFL cornerback and special teams standout, and making a name for himself nationally with his 109-yard, game-winning kickoff return versus Alabama in this year’s stunning Iron Bowl upset by Auburn, Davis went surprisingly undrafted.
There’s valid reasons for him to have fallen out of the draft—he’s an undersized cornerback who lacks strength and plays with limited physicality—but he is a fluid athlete with good coverage instincts and short-area quickness.
He projects well as a No. 4 cornerback who can play out of the slot in dime packages, while he is also an excellent punt returner who can contribute on special teams coverage units. He picked a good team to join in the cornerback-needy San Diego Chargers, where he should have a good shot to crack a roster in need of cornerback talent as long as he can continue to prove his worth on special teams.
CB: Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State (Jacksonville Jaguars)
It might be time for media draft analysts to start being a little tougher on Oregon State cornerback prospects. One year after projected mid-round selection Jordan Poyer fell to the seventh round of the 2013 draft, projected mid-round pick Rashaad Reynolds went completely undrafted this year.
But while no NFL team deemed him worthy of a draft pick, there’s legitimate reasons why some projected him to be a top-100 selection. Although he does not have great size, Reynolds is an instinctive, physical cornerback with good short-area quickness and ball skills.
At 5’10” and 189 pounds, Reynolds doesn’t meet the size preferences that Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley has in cornerbacks, but he could still make the team on a limited depth chart at the position. He is a good fit to be a nickel/dime slot cornerback if he can come up with contributions on special teams.
S: Dion Bailey, USC (Seattle Seahawks)
Like Jim Harbaugh with Shayne Skov, Pete Carroll brought in one of his former recruits (who, unlike Harbaugh with Skov, he never coached at USC) by signing Bailey as an undrafted free agent. Bailey, who was projected as a mid-round selection, adds promising safety depth to the Seattle defense.
Bailey is a skilled playmaker who flies to the football, has good ball skills and is an effective blitzer from the secondary. The problem for Bailey as he projects to the NFL, however, is that he lacks the size to play linebacker (6’0”, 201 pounds) while he lacks the deep speed (4.66-second 40-yard dash) to be a deep coverage safety.
He has a similar skill set to Seahawks strong safety standout Kam Chancellor, and projects best as an in-the-box safety, though he is significantly smaller. Nonetheless, Bailey finds ways to make plays on the field and could be a good keeper for the Seahawks as a backup safety and special teams contributor.
S: Daniel Sorensen, Brigham Young (Kansas City Chiefs)
Although Sorensen is another safety who likely went undrafted due to his limited downfield speed (4.67-second 40-yard dash), he has enough positive traits to make up for it and establish himself as an NFL role player.
Sorensen’s limited speed is helped greatly by his exceptional change-of-direction skills, which were evidenced by his 6.47-second 3-cone drill, 3.95-second 20-yard shuttle and 10.80-second 60-yard shuttle—all of which ranked among the top five among all combine participants. He is a physical but inconsistent tackler, but is also a terrific hands catcher.
Sorensen will need to establish himself on special teams to stick around in the NFL, but for a Chiefs defense that has very little safety talent outside of Eric Berry, he has a good shot to not only earn a roster spot but also compete for playing time.
K: Chandler Catanzaro, Clemson (Arizona Cardinals)
One of the most reliable and clutch kickers in college football, Catanzaro missed just one field goal in each of his past two seasons. He never handled full-time kickoff duties at Clemson and might not have the leg strength to handle that role at the next level, but he’s a consistent field goal kicker from all ranges.
It would be a major upset if Catanzaro beat out Jay Feely for the Cardinals’ kicking job, but it’s not a bad idea for Arizona to put pressure on Feely, who is 37 years old and had multiple misses within 30 yards last season.
P: Tom Hornsey, Memphis (Unsigned)
It wouldn’t have been a surprise if Hornsey, a strong-legged who won the 2013 Ray Guy Award as the best punter in college football, was the first player drafted at his position. In a bigger surprise, Hornsey not only went undrafted, but he also remains unsigned more than four days after the draft.
He’ll probably get a shot soon—Hornsey told the Geelong Advertiser, a newspaper in his native Australia, that he expected to sign a contract by the end of this week—and he deserves one. In addition to his leg power, he exhibits good punt control to down punts in deep territory and has shown he can punt effectively even when under heavy pressure.
Although they might be out of roster spots for undrafted rookies, Hornsey would be a smart addition for the Bills, who could use a better option at the position than Brian Moorman and Jacob Dombrowski.
LS: Marcus Heit, Kansas State (Kansas City Chiefs)
I’d be lying if I told you I did any scouting whatsoever of the long snappers in this year’s draft class, in large part because long snappers are rarely actually selected in the draft. That said, a number of them have been signed, including Kansas State’s Marcus Heit.
Heit, a Senior Bowl participant, was ranked as the best long snapper in this year’s draft class by NFLDraftScout.com. He will provide competition for Chiefs veteran Thomas Gafford at the position.
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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Alabama, All-Undrafted Team, Anthony Steen, Antonio Richardson, Auburn, Boston College, Brandon Coleman, Brett Smith, Brigham Young, BYU, California, Chandler Catanzaro, Chris Davis, Christian Jones, Clemson, Cody Hoffman, Daniel Sorensen, Deandre Coleman, Delaware, Derrell Johnson, Dion Bailey, East Carolina, Ethan Westbrooks, Florida State, Fresno State, Gabe Ikard, Henry Josey, Jackson Jeffcoat, James Hurst, Kansas State, Marcel Jensen, Marcus Heit, Matt Patchan, Memphis, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Rashaad Reynolds, Rutgers, Ryan Hewitt, Shayne Skov, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, Tom Hornsey, UDFA, Undrafted Free Agents, USC, West Texas A&M, Wyoming, Zack Kerr