2014 NFL Draft: Top UDFA Signings

By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

In the 2014 NFL Draft Awards, we outlined the best undrafted free agent (UDFA) signing with the Vikings bringing in Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson. Every year in the NFL, there are some talented players who go undrafted yet end up having good NFL careers. Part of the success of the player depends on him landing in a good situation that puts him in a position to make a roster.

Running back Arian Foster decided to sign with the Texans over a few other teams back in 2009 in large part because of the recruiting efforts of Houston’s area scout Mike Martin. Foster could have signed with the Saints or Buccaneers. However, he saw the Saints already had Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush; Tampa Bay had Cadillac Williams, Earnest Graham and the newly signed Derrick Ward. The Texans needed a back behind Steve Slaton, and Foster saw a better opportunity in Houston. Foster went on to become one of the best running backs in the NFL.

That kind of success obviously isn’t the norm for undrafted free agents, but there should be some good undrafted talents from the 2014 class. Aside from Richardson, here is a short list of some of the potential candidates.

St. Louis Rams cornerback Marcus Roberson
My runner up to Richardson is Roberson. The only thing that kept me from picking Roberson as my No. 1 UDFA is the concern that off-the-field issues could interfere with him panning out. He has good size and speed to be an outside corner in the NFL. In 2012 and 2011, Roberson was a shut-down corner for the Gators going against elite receivers. I would be shocked if he doesn’t make the final 53-man roster since he has the skill set to turn into a major player. That was a great signing by Rams general manager Les Snead.

Washington Redskins wide receiver Cody Hoffman
Washington is a good choice for Hoffman. The coaching staff under Jay Gruden is very willing to take on undrafted players if they earn a spot over veterans. The Redskins have a number of speed receivers, but Hoffman brings some size to the receiving corps. Plus, Washington’s veteran receivers have had some injury issues in the past. Gruden’s West Coast offense could be a good place for Hoffman as a Z (flanker) receiver who does the dirty work in the short to intermediate part of the field. He could be a nice scheme fit for Washington as a backup wide out but will need to stand out on special teams to get his foot in the door.

New Orleans wide receiver Brandon Coleman
Like Hoffman, Coleman went undrafted because of speed concerns. Coleman also is surrounded with question marks regarding his health. The Saints moved up for Brandin Cooks in the first round, but Cooks is a small speed receiver. New Orleans could use some size for depth purposes. The organization could groom Coleman and hopefully turn him into another steal. Marques Colston is the Saints’ big receiver and he’s aging. Rolling the dice on Coleman was a smart gamble by New Orleans.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Brett Smith
The Bucs have been talking up Mike Glennon after not drafting a quarterback, but they made a great signing in Smith. The athletic Smith fits Jeff Tedford’s offense well. Smith has the size and arm strength for the position, but he needs to develop his field vision; he too often took off and ran in college if his first read was covered. As the third quarterback or occupying a spot on the practice squad, Tampa Bay can develop Smith behind Glennon and Josh McCown. Smith was a smart signing by general manager Jason Licht.

New York Giants tight end Xavier Grimble
The Giants don’t have a lot of talent at the tight end position, so New York was an astute landing spot for Grimble. He could contend to be a receiving tight end while the Giants work with him on his blocking. Grimble will have to contribute on special teams to make the final roster, but the tight end position looks wide open. New York’s veterans consist of Adrien Robinson, Daniel Fells, Larry Donnell and Kellen Davis. Grimble’s upside as a receiver could be enough for the Giants to keep him over one or two of those journeymen.

San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Morgan Breslin
San Francisco could be a great fit for Breslin. Aldon Smith is in a rocky status from his off-the-field issues that have turned his NFL future into a question mark. The player the 49ers took in the 2014 NFL Draft for depth behind Smith was South Florida’s Aaron Lynch. Lynch also has a ton of off-the-field issues along with work-ethic problems. He could flame out quickly, and it wouldn’t surprise this writer at all if Breslin – if healthy – beats out Lynch for a roster spot. Breslin played really for USC in 2012 with a 13-sack season and was doing well last year before injuries derailed him. He could be a steal for San Francisco as he’s a great fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Seattle Seahawks safety Dion Bailey
Bailey went undrafted because of speed concerns, but he had enough quickness to be an impact player in the Pac-12 during the past three seasons. Seattle has the top safety tandem in the NFL, but the team is wide open for backups. Bailey could be a special teams contributor and provide good depth. Many teams like to use three safeties with a rotation, so Bailey could see some playing time if he makes the final roster. Perhaps more than any organization in the league, the Seahawks are open to late-round picks or undrafted free agents earning playing time and starting spots. After playing well for USC the past three seasons, Bailey was a nice value signing by Seattle.

2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 22

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12