UPDATE 4/30 11AM: Check out this thread in the Watercooler, where we've discovered even more tryout players coming in this weekend.
Not so long ago, the NFL draft was a non-event for most fans. It consisted mostly of dull-looking people sitting by phones. Now, of course, it's covered by two different networks, reported on in every newspaper, yammered about incessantly by sports radio types and bloggers, and is the subject of 4,391 web sites (at last count) manned by people with an intense interest in the draft and, generally, horrific taste in web design.
Just a couple of years ago, only a precious few hard-core fans paid attention to the signings of rookie free agents, and our reports on the OBR were often greeted in the forums by fans dismissing the listing of undrafted free agents (UDFAs), with phrases like "scrubs", "stiffs", "camp fodder", and "Someone needs to stop Barry from writing any more articles about Richard Alston."
Of course, all of that is changing fast. Now, the signing of undrafted free agents following the draft is quickly turning into a spectacle of bloggers pestering agents, fans slamming Google for updates, and rapid press releases by most teams.
Heaven help us if ESPN buys the broadcast rights.
There's good reason for this, of course. As fans, we want more and more NFL news all the time, and the seven-round NFL draft often leaves a lot of decent talent around after "Mr. Irrelevant" is picked. Browns fans are familiar with names like "Josh Cribbs" and "Leigh Bodden", both undrafted free agents who turned into important players and, in the case of Cribbs, a Pro Bowler.
The quest for information on rookie free agents was more intense this year than ever before and, unfortunately, often less accurate. The use of poorly sourced, and often outright plagiarized, information on blogs and draft sites has hit epic proportions. So, fans need to be careful about what they believe or don't believe as names start getting thrown onto draft and fantasy football sites.
With that in mind, here is the rather lengthy list of rookie free agents and try-out players we've heard about here on the OBR. We'll do something shocking by actually providing easy access to the source article where we got the name, or giving you the name of the Scout reporter who found out about the signing. This is known as "hyperlinking", which is an alternative to the approach we see most often in the sports media these days, which is called "copying".
Here's the list, with there usual Shout-Out in Praise of Awesomeness Above and Beyond the Call of Duty to the OBR Watercooler:
|DE||Xavier Mitchell||Tennessee||Chris Steuber (Scout.com)|
|QB||Craig Hormann||Columbia||ESPN and the Columbia Official Site|
|CB||Darnell Terrell||Missouri||Adam Caplan (Scout.com)|
|DE||Chase Ortiz||TCU||Adam Caplan (Scout.com)|
|RB||Tony Temple||Missouri||Kansas City Star|
|K||Jason Reda||Illinois||Chicago Tribune|
|WR||Lance Leggett||Miami (FL)||TheLedger.com|
|CB||Robbie Powell||Purdue||Journal and Chronicle Online|
|CB||Jonathan Zenon||LSU||LSU Reveille.com|
|RB||Travis Thomas||Notre Dame||Notre Dame Athletics|
|OL||James Lee||South Carolina St||thetandd.com|
|OT||Brian Stamper||Vanderbilt||Nashville City Paper|
|TE||Kolo Kapanui||West Texas A&M||Star Bulletin|
|WR||Brandon Copeland||Bridgewater||Bridgewater Football|
|DT||Brian Shaeferling||Lindenwood||St. Louis Post-Dispatch|
|WR||James Banks||Carson-Newman||Go Vols Extra|
|TE||Ben Barkema||Iowa State||Quad Cities Times|
|CB||Jerrid Gaines||Miami (OH)||Dayton Daily News|
|DT||Steven Friend||CMU||Morning Sun|
|P||Ben Woods||Buffalo||Sharon Herald|
|QB||Kevin Hoyng *||Dayton||Dayton Daily News|
|WR/CB||Andrew Hawkins *||Toledo||Ed Thompson (Scout.com)|
|RB||Austin Scott *||Penn State||MCall.com|
|CB||Gerard Lawson||Oregon State||Oregon Live|
|WR||Matt Champa||Dayton||Dayton Daily News|
|DT||Kyle Lockett||Urbana||Press of Atlantic City|
|WR||Chris Schubert *||Oberlin||Elyria Chronicle-Telegram|
|RB||DeShawn Baker||South Carolina St||Times and Democrat|
|RB||Hugh Charles*||Colorado||Colorado Daily|
|S||Todd Koenig||Ohio||The Post (Ohio U)|
|DE||Jeff Van Osrow*||Oregon State||The Oregonian|
|LB||Lenny Trusnik *||Ohio Northern||ONUSports.com|
* Believed to be tryout contract only
We've also heard repeatedly that S Greg Hay will be getting an invite to mini-camp, but haven't seen this in a reliable source as of yet. Same with Eddie Pinigis of Liberty.