The NFL Draft has developed into a must-watch television event for many of the league's fans who often spent three days glued to their couches in anticipation of watching their favorite team draft the league's next star.
There's so much fanfare surrounding the three-day event that it's easy to forget one of the most important periods of the NFL offseason follows the draft. In the hours after the draft concludes, teams begin a heated scramble to sign college players who were not selected as undrafted free agents.
According to various reports, it's not surprising for an NFL roster to have more than 20 percent of its players come from the pool of undrafted free agents. While the vast majority of these players don't end up cutting it in the pros, there is a glimmer of hope for those players dead-set on beating the odds.
On Monday, the Arizona Cardinals announced the signing of 16 undrafted free agents, highlighted by Alabama quarterback Jacob Coker. the franchise inked contracts with eight offensive players, five defensive players, and three special teams prospects.
While we won't give these players' tapes the same detailed analytical breakdowns we gave to the Cardinals' draft picks, is is worth evaluating these prospects strengths and weaknesses and determining whether or not they have a chance of cracking the roster this fall.
On Tuesday, we'll give quick analysis on the team's offensive undrafted free agents and Wednesday, we'll release our breakdowns of the team's defense and special teams free agents.
Jared Baker, Arizona: Baker was almost never the top back during his college days with the Wildcats, but he possesses a few impressive qualities that may help him compete for a role on the practice squad. At 5-foot-8, Baker is a smaller back, but he runs a sub 4.5 40-yard dash and runs his feet well upon contact. He doesn't have the same type of muscular build many smaller backs have, so durability would be a question mark if he did find his way onto an NFL roster. One aspect of Baker's game we enjoy is the way he carries out his play fakes. Baker rolls his chest down and does a good job selling play-action, which helped Arizona's zone-read and play-action passing games. Baker is probably not a candidate for a roster spot, but he is the only undrafted tailback the Cardinals signed.
Bobo Beathard, Appalachian State: Beathard is an interesting pickup for the Cardinals because on the surface, he doesn't have the measurables to make it at the next level. Small school players who do make it to the NFL are often diamonds in the rough for college recruiters who found athletes that wound up dominating competition, but this was not Beathard. Beathard averaged close to 19 yards per reception as a senior, but only recorded 265 receiving yards. On tape, Beathard's route running looks strong, but he ran a 4.69 40-yard dash at his Pro Day and doesn't appear to have a second gear. Of all the players vying for a roster spot, Beathard's battle will be among the most challenging.
Amir Carlisle, Notre Dame: Carlisle was a five-star recruit out of high school when he signed with USC, and ultimately transferred to rival Notre Dame where he played slot receiver. As a senior, Carlisle only started six games and recorded just 23 receptions, but he plays with a make-you-miss mentality with the ball in his hands that's somewhat intriguing for a player who lacked production. For an athlete who saw time at running back, wide receiver and kick returner in college, Carlisle's 4.5 40-time was slightly underwhelming, and his slender 5-foot-9 build is also a question mark. Carlisle might be able to latch on somewhere as a special teams player, but his chances of catching on in Arizona aren't very strong.
Jacob Coker, Alabama: At 6-foot-5 and 236 pounds, Coker has the size the Cardinals are looking for in a quarterback. Though Coker went undrafted, he has as strong a chance as any free agent signing of making the team as he'll compete with Matt Barkley for the team's third-string quarterback job. What makes Coker a candidate is arm strength, as he did a nice job airing the ball out and letting receivers go up and make plays during his time at Alabama. Coker improved as the season went along for the Crimson Tide, and played his best football during the College Football Playoff. Even with his arm strength, Coker doesn't take nearly as many downfield chances as he could (The Cardinals love throwing downfield) and sometimes throws the ball in front of the sticks on third down. While Coker's delivery leaves a lot to be desired, that's something an NFL coaching staff can tinker with. It would not come as a surprise to us if Coker beats out Barkley for a role with the Cardinals.
Clay DeBord, Eastern Washington: DeBord's tape and resume help make him look like a candidate for an NFL roster spot, but there are a few shortcomings that will be difficult for the Eastern Washington product to overcome. DeBord was a four-year starter with the Eagles and a 2015 First Team All-American, but he lacks the ideal strength to play tackle in the NFL. DeBord recorded 18 bench press reps at 225 at his Pro Day, and on tape, he sometimes allows himself to get blown back into the pocket because he doesn't have the strength to fight off initial blows from defensive linemen and his footwork puts him in awkward positions. DeBord is similar to Cardinals' draft pick Cole Toner in that he often puts himself in good position to set up pass blocks off the snap, but sometimes gives up too much ground and gets caught over-extending. DeBord is one of the undrafted free agents who has a chance with the Cardinals if he takes to the coaching, especially considering their depth at tackle is thin.
Chris King, Duquesne: There's a lot to like about a prospect like King and we think he's the most talented of the three receivers the Cardinals signed. King produced at a high level at Duquesne, recording 81 catches for 1,136 yards during his senior season. The Cardinals prefer for receivers to run sub 4.5 times in the 40-yard dash, but King was slightly above that mark at 4.55. Nevertheless, King plays fast, especially off the snap, and much of his film demonstrates an ability to beat press coverage off the ball which is an essential quality for NFL receivers. At 6-foot-1, King doesn't have ideal size, but he's a leaper who goes up and snags the football away from defensive backs in contested situations. King's film shows him making a lot of tough catches at difficult angles, and he may be worth looking at as a practice squad player.
Givens Price, Nebraska: On the Cardinals' announcement of their undrafted free agent class, the team listed Price as a tackle despite the fact he played defensive line as a senior for the Cornhuskers. Finding any sort of meaningful film on Price is difficult considering he started just three games for the Cornhuskers at right tackle as a junior, and struggled to stay in the rotation. Price has the size to play offensive tackle at 6-foot-4 and weights listed anywhere between 295 and 310 pounds, but it's hard to say whether Price will be any sort of a factor in camp considering his inexperience.
Hakeem Valles, Monmouth: It's not hard to see why the Cardinals like Valles as a prospect, as the Monmouth tight end ran a faster 40-yard dash time (4.63) at his Pro Day than any of the tight ends invited to the NFL Combine. Valles began his college career as a wide receiver, and transitioned to tight end as a junior. On tape, Valles still looks like a wide receiver adjusting to tight end. He releases off the line of scrimmage with a higher pad level than most tight ends, but he's a better route runner than most as well. Valles demonstrates good concentration throughout the play and does a nice job coming back to get the football when it's underthrown. If Valles can improve his blocking and take in coaching points, tight end is a position where late bloomers can thrive and it's possible Valles could go from a practice squad player to the owner of a roster spot at some point during his career.