Why Undrafted?: Poona Ford, DT, Texas
By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell
Four years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In that series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. Three years ago, we started the Why the Slide? series, and this year it is back. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at email@example.com. I can't promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.
During the draft process, Texas defensive tackle Poona Ford had some draft buzz from some in the media. Ford occasionally flashed some ability to be quick and disruptive at the point of attack for Texas. He collected 34 tackles with eight for a loss, 1.5 sacks, one pass batted and one forced fumble in 2017. As a junior, he totaled 54 tackles with zero sacks. Ford notched 2.5 sacks in his sophomore season. After speaking with team sources, WalterFootball.com had Ford projected as a late-round pick. Given some of the hype around him, however, it was surprising to some that Ford went undrafted.
Sources from multiple teams said the reason why Ford went undrafted was because they graded him as a free agent. They did not have Ford worthy of going in the late rounds, so to those teams it was appropriate that Ford was not selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. The 6-foot, 300-pounder is very undersized and lacks length for the NFL.
After going undrafted, Ford signed with the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle is a good landing spot, where the coaching staff and organization is very willing to give late-round picks or undrafted free agents the opportunity to earn a roster spot or even become a starter. Seattle also needs some young defensive linemen to emerge as replacements for Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Sheldon Richardson. Additionally, Malik McDowell's career could be over without even playing a snap. Jarran Reed and Nazair Jones are the projected young starting tandem at tackle, but Ford could win a spot as a backup. The Seahawks don't have established depth behind those young players, and Ford should have an honest shot to earn a roster spot in Seattle.
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