Everyone gets caught up in the excitement of the NFL Draft. The NFL has tapped into the drama of middle school Phys. Ed. class with millions watching who’ll be picked for their favorite team and when.
More intense even than the draft, however, is the selecting of undrafted rookie free agents by every NFL team.
UDFA’s go through a process that starts during the later parts of the draft. Their phones get blown up as they are expected to make a life-changing decision in a matter of a few hours.
The difference between being an UDFA and being selected in later rounds is that you can choose a situation that is the best fit for you. It is for this reason that it is oftentimes more beneficial not to be drafted at all than to be chosen late. Some of the more coveted players are given money on par with 6th round picks.
No, it’s not as prestigious as having your name called at the draft, but it’s not the end of the world. Players like Antone Smith (2009) and Javien Elliot (2016) have gone on to good careers despite not being drafted. It’s all about the grind tolerance and work ethic of the player involved.
I speak from experience.
In 2006 I signed as an UDFA with the Saints.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime, but not for the faint of heart.
These Seminole UDFA’s have a chance to put the pain of not being drafted behind them and build NFL careers.
Tavarus McFadden, 49ers
I’ve been hard on Tavarus this past season and off-season. Mainly, because I saw so much potential in him going into 2017. He hasn’t really helped his case since then, but where he landed I can’t help being optimistic about his future.
San Francisco just picked up the player McFadden most resembles in free agency in Richard Sherman. The opportunity to learn under one of the better corners in the last few NFL seasons is good for his long term development.
Matthew Thomas, Steelers
Mike Tomlin likes FSU linebackers having drafted former Noles Vince Williams, who’s currently on the team, and Lawrence Timmons, no longer on the team. Matthew Thomas fits the mold of how inside linebackers have to play in today’s NFL.
With teams primarily in nickel defense – five defensive backs – as a base package, they’ve got to have athletic linebackers who can tackle.
Thomas has enough film from college to show that he’s got flashes to go along with an impressive Combine performance. If he’s able to put it all together then he has a good chance of making the team.
Jared Jackson, Rams
Few even know who this walk-on wide receiver is. He’s got a chance because he does one thing very well that very few people want to do: play special teams.
He’s got some skill and athleticism. I saw him at FSU’s Pro Day and the young man has confidence as well. Shortly thereafter, I saw the former Aucilla Christian High School standout’s highlight film of special teams tackles and blocks. I’ve never seen this before. I was impressed.
I give him a chance just like the before-mentioned Javien Elliot. All it takes is someone to like you.
Play special teams well and be an adequate wide receiver and you can play a few seasons in the NFL. Hell, if he gets cut by the Rams he seems perfect for New England. They turn Popeyes employees into all-pros.
Other Noles who have made NFL rosters as UDFA’s:
- Jacob Pugh Seattle Seahawks
- Ermon Lane New Orleans Saints
- Ryan Green New York Jets
- Jalen Wilkerson Houston Texans
- Trey Marshall Denver Broncos
There are many roads to the NFL. Signing as an UDFA or getting a camp invite doesn’t end the story. I wish these young men success.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/undrafted-seminoles-face-difficult-but-not-impossible-road-to-nfl-roster