Sunday, April 29, 2012

NFL DRAFT 2012: 10 Best Undrafted Prospects

Chris Polk

Washington running back Chris Polk likely slid through the draft due to rumors of major shoulder injury concerns, but his upside is why the Eagles signed him as a free agent.

Players often go undrafted due to medical concerns, character issues or size questions. Below is a breakdown of the 10 best undrafted prospects, available as free agents.

1. Chris Polk, RB, Washington (signed with Eagles)
For a running back with good size (5-11, 222) and toughness between the tackles, Polk has deceptively quick feet and the ability to accelerate to top speed in a hurry. He has the talent to be a good starting power back in the NFL. Polk likely slid through the draft due to rumors of major shoulder injury concerns.
2. Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia (signed with Redskins)
Minnifield was viewed as a likely second-round pick before he missed the Senior Bowl due to injury. Then he had knee surgery, which Minnifield later revealed was a microfracture procedure. If he is able to get back to his pre-injury form, Minnifield should become a productive starting cornerback.
3. Tydreke Powell, DT, North Carolina (signed with Vikings)
Powell is a strong defensive tackle who can be a real force at the point of attack. He can jolt run blockers upright and backward to disrupt inside plays. He likely went undrafted because he's not an explosive athlete and lacks the burst off the ball to get backfield penetration.
4. Blake DeChristopher, OT, Virginia Tech
While we consider DeChristopher to be similar to the Ravens’ Marshal Yanda, it's not surprising he when undrafted. He's not an elite athlete. DeChristopher does an excellent job of blocking with base and leverage and uses his hands well to get a good, strong fit. Despite lacking great athleticism, he was a consistently productive blocker at Virginia Tech and we think he will become one in the NFL.
5. Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama
Maze is an explosive and dynamic player who has the talent to make big plays as a slot receiver and returner in the NFL. Sources told us, however, there are concerns about Maze’s maturity and ability to be a durable NFL player. He will get a chance as a free agent because of his big-play potential.
6. DaJohn Harris, DT, USC
Harris was a vastly underrated player during his time at USC. He is a quick-handed defensive tackle with the ability to defeat blocks and make plays on inside runs. With all the talented defenders around him at Southern Cal, his talent and production may have been overlooked. Harris is likely to get an opportunity with a team that plays a 4-3 defense.
7. Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina
Jones was a highly productive receiver during his final two seasons at North Carolina. He looked like a potential second-round pick at the end of the 2011 regular season. Things have gone downhill since. He struggled all week at the Senior Bowl, and then was banned from North Carolina’s pro day due to his affiliation with an off-campus party. Jones (6-4, 225) is going to get a chance as a free agent because big receivers with athleticism and good hands are hard to find.
8. Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee
Poole is a deceptively good athlete who struggled through a tough final season in 2011. He is a strong inside runner with the foot quickness and balance to gain yards after contact. He is going to get a chance as a free agent and has the talent to stick in the NFL. Poole could develop into a starter, much like another undrafted running back out of Tennessee—Arian Foster.
9. Donnie Fletcher, CB, Boston College (signed with Jets)
Fletcher has an uncommon combination of size (6-1), speed and athleticism. However, his lack of explosiveness and consistent playmaking ability are the primary reasons he did not get drafted. Fletcher will be an excellent free agent signing. He showed at the Senior Bowl he has NFL-caliber talent.
10. Patrick Edwards, WR, Houston
Edwards is a quick and explosive receiver with big-play ability. His size (5-9, 178) and concerns he is a product of Houston’s offense likely led to him going undrafted. He will get a chance as a free agent because he looked like an NFL-ready slot receiver on tape.

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