There were 255 drafted players in this year’s NFL Draft, but they will not be the only rookies to contribute in their first season. Earlier this week we discussed the 10 MWC draftees and how they would fare in year one. Today, we will examine all the current undrafted rookies and the odds of them contributing to their current team!
CB Zane Lewis, Air Force: Signed with Arizona Cardinals
Air Force has not generated many NFL players over the years, but Lewis will look to break the mold. The former Falcon received some NFL interest late into the draft process, with some outlets having him going late Day 3. Although he was not drafted, Lewis was quickly picked up by the Cardinals, who could use depth at the corner position.
The Air Force product was a late bloomer, only producing in his final collegiate season. As a senior, Lewis allowed just 286 yards and one touchdown into his coverage, while nabbing an interception and forcing 11 pass breakups. The level of competition, only one season of quality tape, and sub-par tackling is assumably what dropped him out of the draft entirely.
Lewis can play his way into Arizona’s fourth or fifth corner spot, behind the likes of Patrick Peterson, Byron Murphy, Robert Alford, and Chris Jones. With the way NFL offenses are constructed, even the fifth CB on a roster can see a decent amount of playing time throughout the season. Expect Lewis to not only make the 53-man roster but play a key role on special teams and, with strong play in camp, as a rotational defensive back.
OG John Molchon, Boise State: Signed with Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Molchon was a three-year starter for the Broncos, spending most of his time at left guard, but has experience at right tackle. At 6’5” 310 pounds, he possesses a frame that is NFL worthy, but unfortunately, the Boise State lineman has very short arm length for a guard in the pros. Paired with average to below-average athleticism, are will be difficult for Molchon to make a roster.
He was a standout in pass protection at the college level, as according to Pro Football Focus he allowed just five QB sacks in 1,641 pass-blocking snaps. What he lacks in arm length and agility, he makes up for in a solid base as well as in his knowledge of the position. He was bullied when facing Power-Five defenses (as seen in his film against Florida State) and had poor hand technique, which could be fixed by NFL-caliber coaching.
Tampa Bay does not have great depth at the guard position, which leaves an opportunity for Molchon to play his way onto the roster. It is a long shot, due to his physical skill set, but if he continues to improve his technique, the former Bronco could find himself on the final 53-man roster, or at the very least, the practice squad.
DT David Moa, Boise State: Signed with Minnesota Vikings
The Bronco alum has long odds of having more than a short stint in the NFL, to put it simply. Moa was a sixth-year senior in his final season, after receiving a medical redshirt in 2018 due to an achilles injury. When he was on the field, he was solid against the run and just decent a pass-rusher. After racking up 10 sacks in 2016, he was only able to generate three more before leaving Boise State. He never popped off the screen or dominated at the Group-of-Five level, leading to him falling out of the 2020 NFL Draft.
On top of his average play, Moa’s size is slight for an interior defensive lineman (6’3” 290 pounds) and he does not have the speed or quickness to see a move out to the edge. The Vikings also have a plethora of talented players across their defensive line, leaving little to no room for Moa to make an impact. He presumably will be cut before or during the preseason, having to land on a practice squad for Minnesota or another team to continue his NFL dream.
TE Cam Sutton, Fresno State: Signed with Carolina Panthers
The first of two Bulldog tight ends to sign as undrafted free agents, Sutton is being brought on by the Panthers strictly due to his potential. He was targeted only 22 times at Fresno State (2018-2019), reeling in nine receptions for 154 yards. Although he does not have the statistical output you would like to see, the former receiver turned tight end has the size and athleticism that teams salivate over.
Sutton is 6’6” and 225 pounds with speed and agility to spare. If he can continue to develop and add some weight to his frame, he may become a solid weapon from the TE position in the future. Darren Waller is a top-end comparison for him and is what the Panthers hope to get out of him. Currently, Carolina has Ian Thomas as their starter, with Seth DeValve and Chris Manhertz backing him up. Sutton is raw and in all likelihood won’t make any 53-man roster in his first season, but should find himself on a practice squad and continue to work on his game.
TE Jared Rice, Fresno State: Signed with Los Angeles Chargers
The exact opposite of Sutton, Rice put together back to back seasons of solid production, despite missing a couple games due to injury in 2019. In his four seasons at Fresno State, he was able to amass 113 receptions for 1,353 yards, 11 touchdowns, and a passer rating of 112.8 when targeted (Per PFF). Had Rice declared for the 2019 NFL Draft, he likely would have been selected on Day 3. He decided to stay for his senior season in which the Bulldogs went from 12-2 the year prior to 4-8, ultimately tanking his draft stock.
Rice will be fighting for the chance to be the Chargers No. 3 tight end, behind Hunter Henry and Virgil Green. He has playmaking ability after the catch and great body control at the catch point. Standing at 6’5” 240 pounds with a wingspan of 78 inches and a 40 time of 4.83, Rice can fend off any other tight ends vying for a spot on the roster. Even if he does not stick on the final roster, he should be a quick practice squad signing or, if he plays well enough in preseason, could be signed to another team’s roster.
S Juju Hughes, Fresno State: Signed with Los Angeles Rams
Hughes played all over the Bulldogs defense in 2019, with 150-plus snaps in the box, at slot corner, and as a free safety (Via PFF). On top of his versatility, he offers experience in the defensive backfield as he was a three-year starter at Fresno State. He was disciplined and stout in coverage, giving up no more than two touchdowns in each season while forcing multiple interceptions and pass breakups. According to PFF, Hughes committed just three penalties in 2,855 snaps played in his collegiate career.
Although he had strong play at the college level, the former Bulldog will find that making an NFL roster is going to be far more strenuous than expected. The Rams are loaded at safety, making it very difficult to see Hughes sticking around in LA for too long. Also, Hughes is just 5’11” and weighs roughly 185 pounds which is not nearly prototypical size for an NFL defensive back. His change of direction ability and top-speed are not eye-catching, adding to the list of things he will have to overcome in order to have a lasting NFL career.
If Hughes can put weight on his frame, which he has experience doing as he gained over 20 pounds throughout college, and can prove he is valuable as a slot corner, one of the 31 other NFL teams could give him a chance. Don’t be surprised, however, if he has a quick exit with the Rams.
RB Josh Hokit, Fresno State: Signed with San Francisco 49ers
The final Bulldog on the list, Hokit may have the slimmest odds at cracking his current team’s roster. He is a bigger back, weighing in at 220 pounds at six feet and an inch tall. He played like a big back as well, having a career-long carry of just 26 yards. He was not too impressive while at Fresno State, never rushing for more than 587 yards in a single season. He does not add much as a receiver either, netting just 38 receptions in his career.
The 49ers likely brought Hokit on as a training camp/preseason body as they already have a full running back room that includes Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, Jeff Wilson, and Raheem Mostert. Even if he could make the switch to fullback, which is dwindling in value every season, San Francisco already has arguably the best in the league with Kyle Juszczyk. Hokit will seemingly bounce around practice squads before retiring his NFL aspirations.
CB Rojesterman Farris II, Hawaii: Signed with Atlanta Falcons
Farris was a three-year starter at Hawaii, even playing significant snaps as a freshman. He has a solid frame and wingspan that should help him compete in the NFL. Listed at 180 pounds, he will need to add some weight in order to hold his own against bigger-bodied receivers. He did not give up many receptions as a starter, but when he did, he gave up chunks of yardage. The former Warrior allowed an average of 15.7 yards per reception over his four years on the college gridiron and allowed 17 touchdowns to just four interceptions (Per PFF).
His play in coverage dropped him off many team’s boards, leading to him signing as a UDFA. However, Farris brings sure tackling, good size, and special teams ability to the roster, which bodes well for his chances at staying on after the preseason. The Falcons have depth at the corner position, but you can never have too much in your secondary. He will have to prove his worth at training camp, but if he does, expect to see him lining up on special teams come the 2020 season.
WR JoJo Ward, Hawaii: Signed with Arizona Cardinals
Ward has put up impressive numbers over the last two seasons of his college career, yet he still found himself undrafted. There are various reasons for his fall, the main few being his size (5’9” 175 pounds), drop issues (18 since 2018), and his lack of yards after the catch ability. Hawaii runs an interesting offense, splitting four to five receivers out wide on every play, literally. This makes it difficult for scouts to evaluate the talent on the field as that offensive scheme is not translatable.
Ward lined up as an outside receiver even though his body size will pigeonhole him to the slot at the next level. He received massive amounts of targets from QB Cole McDonald, but was only able to reel in just over 50-percent of them. His saving grace, however, is his speed. He ran a 4.47 forty time but he seems much faster when on the field. The Cardinals picked up the former Warrior, hoping he can harness his speed and become a deep threat. He also has experience, albeit not much, at kick and punt returner which adds even more value to what he can bring.
Arizona currently has 10 receivers on their roster, not counting other undrafted free agent signings. The amount of competition will make it difficult to land on the roster, but if Ward can fix his drops and learn how to play from the slot, he could be a steal as a UDFA.
CB Luq Barcoo, San Diego State: Signed with Jacksonville Jaguars
Barcoo was a late bloomer, only starting as a senior, but he played lights out in 2019. His lack of experience and, much like many of the players on this list, his size are what made teams shy away from using one of their draft picks on him. At 6’1” he has great height for the position, but at 175 pounds, NFL receivers will have their way with him. Even with these concerns, his production alone should have had him drafted sometime on Day 3.
Last year, Barcoo nabbed nine interceptions, tied for the most by any defender in the nation. He forced another 14 pass breakups, allowing a passer rating of just 34.0 into his coverage. To put that into perspective, if a quarterback were to just throw the ball into the ground every single play, he would finish with a passer rating of 39.6. Even in just one season of play, he showed he has terrific instincts and ball-hawking skills, as well as above-average athleticism as a corner.
The Jaguars are in need talent all over their young roster, offering him an excellent opportunity to show case his talents. The Aztec alum best fits in a heavy zone scheme but can run man to man from the slot effectively. Barcoo needs to put on some weight and show that he is durable but he can definitely find himself as a key rotational piece in Jaguars’ cornerback room in 2020.
LB Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State: Signed with New England Patriots
Yet another outstanding San Diego State player to go undrafted, Tezino is moving cross-country to be a member of the Patriots. The former Aztec has been the leader of their defense for the past two seasons, after having a solid 2017 campaign as a rotational player. SDSU deployed Tezino is a unique role, having blitz from the linebacker position quite often, using him as another pass-rusher. He is decent in coverage but is far better against the run and as an occasional pass-rusher.
His 75 QB pressures over the past two seasons are 15 more than any other linebacker and helped him earn PFF’s highest pass-rushing grade from the position. As the primary coverage defender, he has allowed only one touchdown compared to two interceptions and six PBUs. With his vision and instincts he was able to follow runners to the lane they chose, stuffing them immediately. The only thing that could have stopped teams from drafting him was his athleticism, which NFL franchises covet highly.
The Patriots are probably the best fit for the SDSU defender, as he fits almost perfectly into Head Coach Bill Belichick's system. He loves versatility at the linebacker position, using Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, and Dont’a Hightower in all phases of the defense. With both Collins and Van Noy departing in free agency, New England needed to replenish their LB spot. They drafted Josh Uche in the second round who has a similar skill set to that of Tezino, but owns better physicals. The former Aztec will have the opportunity to compete for a backup linebacker role but do not be shocked if he receives significant snaps as an undrafted rookie.
OG Daishawn Dixon, San Diego State: Signed with Baltimore Ravens
Dixon was strictly a left guard at San Diego State, starting the past three seasons at the position. He has great size for the interior, standing at 6’5” 320 pounds, but did not dominate as you would expect him to. He was just decent in the run-game and as a pass blocker, he only gave up two sacks but was beaten by defenders on many more occasions.
He does not have elite athleticism and his average production is what likely caused most teams to overlook him. The Ravens, however, picked up the phone and offered Dixon a UDFA contract not too long after the conclusion of the draft. He will compete with this year’s fourth-round selection, Ben Bredeson, and last year’s fourth-round pick, Ben Powers, for a backup position with DJ Fluker and Bradley Bozeman slotted as the starting guards.
Dixon will presumably have to settle with a practice squad signing as a rookie but could be added to a roster mid-season if a team is plagued with the injury bug on their offensive line.
TE Parker Houston, San Diego State: Signed with Arizona Cardinals
Houston is the last Aztec UDFA thus far and he may have the steepest hill to climb. He does not have the speed or agility to be a true receiving tight end but he also doesn’t possess the blocking skills to make the switch to fullback or even offensive tackle. In four years of playing time at SDSU, he has caught 45 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns.
His numbers leave much to be desired but he is a willing blocker and has shown he can make contested targets. The Cardinals do not have much talent at tight end but three of their four players who had receptions from the position last season are returning for 2020. This leaves a maximum of one more spot, which Houston will have to battle for in training camp.
QB Josh Love, San Jose State: Signed with Los Angeles Rams
Pegged as one of the biggest draft day sleepers, Love fell all the way out of the 2020 NFL Draft. He has progressed every single season of his four-year college career, finishing 2019 as one of PFF’s highest-graded quarterbacks. He does not own the physical tools NFL scouts and evaluators look for, which is why he was not selected in the draft, but he does have the on-field production.
He threw for nearly 4,000 yards (3,923) on 293 completions and 22 touchdowns compared to just eight interceptions. He was also one of the best in the nation at avoiding sacks as he was able to get rid of the football just before being taken down. He also has NFL-level arm strength, a quick release, and great touch on deep passes. San Jose State will struggle to replace one of, if not the best passer in school history.
The Rams let Blake Bortles walk after last season, leaving a hole behind Jared Goff. They currently have John Wolford and Bryce Perkins who will compete with the former Spartan during training camp and preseason. Love has the talent and ability to win the Rams backup quarterback job and could play well enough if Goff were to go down.
DL Sailosi Latu, San Jose State: Signed with Atlanta Falcons
Latu is the definition of a plug the gap defender with a 6’3” and 330-pound frame. He offers little to nothing as a pass-rusher and would only be used in obvious running situations. He recorded just one sack in his three seasons at San Jose State, proving to be a liability against the pass. Due to his inability to play on passing downs and his poor athletic traits, the former Spartan had to wait to be signed as a UDFA.
It is not a reach to say the Falcons brought Latu on as just an offseason body as they already have a decent amount of depth on their defensive line, especially at defensive/nose tackle. Do not expect him to make an impact, or even a final roster, in his first year.
K Dominik Eberle, Utah State: Signed with Las Vegas Raiders
Although it is not the flashy pick, Eberle could be the most productive rookie Utah State player in 2020. Eberle improved his accuracy every season with the Aggies, finishing with a career field goal percentage of 80%. In 2019, he was a perfect 13 for 13 on field goals less than 40 yards out. Kickers, though valuable, do not get drafted often, so it was not a surprise to see Eberle’s name on the undrafted rookies list.
The Raiders have Daniel Carlson as their leading placekicker, though he went just 19 of 26 on field goals in their last season in Oakland. They likely wanted to bring on competition to try and bring the best out of Carlson or, if Eberle does well enough, find his replacement.
WR Siaosi Mariner, Utah State: Signed with Las Vegas Raiders
The second and final UDFA for the Raiders, Mariner joins his former teammate in moving to Las Vegas. Many draft pundits constantly spoke on QB Jordan Love’s lack of weapons at Utah State, but Mariner was a solid go-to option in 2019. The Aggie burst onto the scene in his final season, grabbing 62 receptions for 976 yards and 10 touchdowns.
At 6’2” 195 pounds, he has the size and frame to play on the outside but did not show playmaking ability as he was not able to break many tackles or create yards after the catch. The Raiders have seven receivers on their roster that will likely beat out Mariner unless he can prove he is a valuable addition to their special teams which he did little of in college.
TE Caleb Repp, Utah State: Signed with Atlanta Falcons
Repp is an intriguing prospect as he is raw with great size and athletic ability. Before transferring to Utah State, he spent three seasons at Utah, with the last two as a defensive end. As a graduate transfer in 2019, Repp joined the Aggies as a wide receiver/tight end hybrid, spending most of his time out of the slot. At 6’5” 230 pounds, he is big for a receiver but small for a tight end.
He projects best as a move tight end or big slot receiver. His speed and acceleration make him a weapon on all three levels of the field and is a great lead blocker in space. He will need time to develop his body and route-running skills, but his potential as a receiver is intriguing, catching the eye of the Falcons. Behind starter Hayden Hurst, there is not much talent, which bodes well for Repp’s chances of cracking the roster. Even if he does not, we could see him start to contribute as early as year two.
DE Tipa Galeai, Utah State: Signed with Green Bay Packers
The only UDFA signing for the Packers, Galeai is a welcomed addition to their defensive line. Much like Repp before him, he will need at least a year to develop better pass-rushing hands and will also need to put on extra weight. His 6’5” 230-pound frame is slight for an edge rusher and would be stonewalled by longer and stronger offensive tackles. He holds excellent speed off the edge, get off burst, and closeout acceleration that is not all too common.
Not only did he perform well as a pass-rusher with the Aggies, but he was dependable against the run as well. Against NFL competition, however, he will likely be stuck in a designated pass-rusher role. Despite this, with weight gain that doesn’t interfere with his athleticism and a newly acquired array of pass-rush moves, Galeai can contribute at the next level. Due to the aforementioned sentence, year one will be spent on the Packers’ or another NFL team’s practice squad.
LB Javin White, UNLV: Signed with Las Vegas Raiders
White started the past two seasons for the Rebels after receiving a healthy amount of snaps in 2017. He brings versatility both on the defense and as a special teamer. He lined up on the edge of the defensive line, at linebacker, and as a slot corner, where he received the bulk of his snaps over the last three years. Being six feet two inches and weighing 195 pounds, the UNLV alum will be a big slot in the NFL with the ability to kick to the outside or as a box safety.
In coverage, he has reeled in nine interceptions and 16 PBUs, while allowing five touchdowns. He was also called on eight penalties last season, which he will need to clean up in the pros. White flashed genuine ball-hawking ability along with utility all over the defense but must improve his tackling and coverage skills in order to make an impact in the NFL. The Raiders have their starting defensive back spots set but there is room for White to fit onto their depth chart, whether it is at linebacker or cornerback. It is safe to predict White making their roster and seeing playing time on both special teams and defense in his rookie season.
CB Tyler Hall, Wyoming: Signed with Atlanta Falcons
Hall started the last three seasons as an outside corner for the Broncos but will be forced into the slot in the NFL due to his stature. He is only 5’10” and 190 pounds, which is typically too small to deal with outside receivers. What will make the transition difficult for him is his lack of change of direction quickness, which is necessary to play in the slot. However, he has above-average hands at the target point, speed to spare when cracking down on receivers under him, and kick return ability.
As the primary coverage defender, Hall allowed just 33 catches on 73 targets, but at an atrocious 17.6 yards per reception which ended with five touchdowns (Per PFF). He will be battling with Rojesterman Farris II and several other cornerbacks to make the Falcons roster, but his ability as a kick returner and slot flexibility gives him a slight edge. If he can prove to be viable on the inside, he will be wearing black and red come Sundays.
On top of their drafted players, the Mountain West Conference has turned out strong UDFAs this year, with some that will have great chances at making their team’s final roster. It will be tough for many players to truly show their worth as teammates and coaches cannot practice together due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we still have high hopes for our former MWC standouts.