NFL

Top Ten – 2015 Undrafted College Free Agents

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There is something regale about being selected in the NFL Draft. It reflects and confirms the validation of a life-time commitment to the sport of football. Going undrafted can be a serious blow to the psyche of many players as they scramble to find a team to sign them once the draft concludes.

Although there’s nothing guaranteed and you don’t have the thrill of hearing your name announced, going undrafted may have a few slight advantages. First is the chip that is now placed on the shoulders of every prospect robbed of the moment of hearing their name announced during the three-day festival we now know as the NFL Draft. The second positive about going undrafted is the ability by the player to pick and choose what team offers him the best opportunity to make the coveted final 53-man roster.

Below are some of the top undrafted prospects that were not included in the 2015 NFL Draft. Also remember 15 players have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame that were not chosen via the NFL Draft. They arrived at the door steps to the hall in Canton as undrafted free agents.

La’el Collins, OT, Dallas Cowboys: Collins is one of the more unique undrafted prospects we have come across and likely the only player ever invited to the NFL Draft that ended up not being selected at all. Collins stock plummeted after his pregnant girlfriend was murdered and teams remained hesitant to the idea of taking the athletic left tackle from LSU. NFL clubs wanted to make sure Collins was not a suspect and that he was clear of any wrong-doing before inking him to a deal. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones lured the talented tackle to Dallas after a horrific chain of events. Collins finally signed his first NFL contract as an undrafted free agent with the Cowboys adding more depth and talented to one of the leagues best units.

Zach Zenner, RB, Detroit Lions: The Lions could be the perfect place for Zenner to establish himself in the NFL after becoming the first back in Division I football history to rush for 2,000 yards in three straight seasons at South Dakota State. The vivid memory of him slicing through a hole during the East-West Shrine All-Star game and then displaying the speed to beat former Stanford safety (New England Patriots second round pick Jordan Richards) to the corner and blow by him remains entrenched in my head.  Zenner reminds me of another amazingly productive running back the Lions have in former DII star Joique Bell. Bell went undrafted out of Wayne State and bounced around several teams before making a name for himself in Detroit. The Lions backfield is solid but not exceptionally deep and that is a huge bonus for Zenner moving forward.

Travis Raciti, DE, Philadelphia Eagles: Possibly the one of the best players available after the conclusion of the NFL Draft and the beneficiary to his slide was none other the Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. Raciti is from the west coast (not Oregon, but San Jose State) where he was a disruptive force off the edge. During the East-West Shrine Game this past January he had one of the top performances on a day-to-day basis. He is extremely quick off the football and showed good strength to push the offensive lineman back. Raciti is great in pursuit and comes across as a DE/OLB hybrid type with a high-motor.

Collin Rahrig, G, Pittsburgh Steelers: Pittsburgh finally had a healthy offensive line last season, compared to the previous few that saw their unit up-front dismantled by injuries. Rahrig’s talent and position should have an advantage on the Steelers coaching staff as they sift through the incoming rookie class of undrafted players searching for a reliable option on the 53-man roster. Rahrig is more powerful than his frame suggests and possesses the ability to reach the second and third level effectively.

Al-Hajj Shabazz, CB, Indianapolis Colts:  Shabazz is going to make the Colts’ scouting department look very intelligent after signing him. During his collegiate career at West Chester, the Golden Rams’ defensive staff used Shabazz as a true shutdown cornerback. He lined up against the opponents top receiver and learned the true meaning of the so called “island” defensive backs live on. He is a high energy tempo setter like Richard Sherman and wears his emotions on his sleeve. The combination of both size and speed for the position will make Shabazz a hard guy to cut.

Jean Sifrin, TE, Indianapolis Colts: Sifrin began his college career at El Camino Junior College after playing basketball at ASA College in Brooklyn. The former power forward turned tight end (ever heard that one before?) is too much of an overall athlete to not include on this list. He immediately made an impact at UMass and when watching film on him you will find a Randy Moss-esque tight end that has natural large soft hands and contorts to the football very well for his size (6-foot-6, 250 pounds).

Matt Darr, P, Miami Dolphins: Darr arrived in Arlington, TX for the College Gridiron Showcase and put on a real clinic punting the football. He booted kick after kick and boosted his overall draft value after the week of practice in front of NFL scouts. Incumbent Dolphins punter, Brandon Fields, was average at best last season prompting Miami to take a closer look at Darr and also allow Fields leg to be fresh. It will not be a surprise for Darr to unseat Fields when the rosters are reduced to 53 in September.

B.J. Larson, OLB, Buffalo Bills: The Bills led the NFL with 55 sacks last season and added another disruptive force off the edge with B.J. Larson. Larson played in a hybrid DE/OLB position at Utah State, allowing him to put pressure on the quarterback. He possesses a long body and high-motor and should fit right in with the Bills lacking real depth at the outside linebacker position.

Levi Norwood, WR, Chicago Bears: The Bears need to add speed to their offense and Norwood plays a lot faster than he times. Norwood could be used in the slot as a vertical threat and also be a tremendous asset in the return game. The Bears will look to recapture the form Norwood displayed in 2013 when he was one of the top all-purpose players in the Big 12.

Cody Prewitt, S, Tennessee Titans: Once considered one of the top safeties available in the 2015 NFL Draft, Prewitt went undrafted. He has great range and goes to a team that needs his ability on the back end of the secondary. The Titans get a real deal by snagging the talented Ole Miss safety.


About Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates College2Pro.com. He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.