These players are all long shots to make the team, to be sure, but plenty of obscure undrafted free agents have made it onto the roster (for example, Curtis Johnson, Jordan in 2008), into the starting lineup (Ed Johnson, Gary Brackett) and even to the Pro Bowl (Jeff Saturday). Will any of these players follow suit?
Only time will tell. But let's at least get to know them better.
1. Kyle DeVan:
DeVan is actually a second-year player that was signed by the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent following the 2008 NFL Draft.
DeVan at Oregon State
Tom Hauck/Getty Images
He was released by the Redskins prior to the regular season and spent the next few months on the practice squad of the New York Jets, even playing for the Boise Burn of the afl2. He played college ball at Oregon State.
Prior to the 2008 draft, DeVan, a center prospect, was ranked 14th at his position by Tom Marino and Marino thought enough of DeVan to identify him as a priority free agent.
"DeVan is a tough individual who achieved due to his tenacity and toughness," Marino said. "Got on people in the running game, but wasn't what I would consider a fluid, easy-moving athlete. Doesn't play with bent knees nor did he make the play side reach effectively. Non explosive. Feet consistently trailed his body (falls off) and stalled on contact. Leaner."
Marino's assessment of DeVan's draft prospects proved true, but he has failed to catch on to an NFL roster. Since the Colts are looking for a more athletic, attacking player — less of a leaner, more of a fluid athlete — DeVan's prospects do not look good, but current center Jeff Saturday was also an undrafted free agent with his share of detractors among NFL scouts, so anything can happen.
2. Brandon Barnes:
Barnes is another second-year player that played collegiately at Grand Valley State. He played right tackle in college, but at not quite 6-feet-2 and 325 pounds, is far too short — and short armed — to play either tackle position at the NFL level.
He projects best as a guard and could have the kind of feet and agility to play the position for the Colts, given the fact that he was nimble enough to play tackle.
Heading into the 2008 draft, Marino had Barnes ranked as the 85th overall player at his position, which would certainly put him well into the realm of undrafted free agent, but most definitely not at the level of priority free agent.
"Barnes was a 2007 Upshaw award winner," Marino said. But added, "Soft. Not particularly tough or aggressive. Playing ROT. Is strong, but doesn't finish inline. Too nice and I feel a tad lazy on the backside." Similar comments to those of Marino from other skilled scouts most likely led to Barnes going undrafted.
However, Scout.com NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber thinks that Barnes stands the best chance of anyone in this group of making the roster. "Barnes is a versatile player who has experience playing right tackle," Steuber said. "He's a steady blocker with good fundamentals. He positions himself well and uses his strength to his advantage. He's solid in pass protection and run blocking and mauls opponents. He immediately gets his hands up and jolts opponents at the line of scrimmage. He didn't face top competition at the collegiate level. He has to improve his footwork and not rely on his strength. He's not very explosive and projects to be a guard in the NFL."
3. Cornelius Lewis:
Lewis was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and chose to stand on his workout numbers there, rather than working out at Tennessee State's Pro Day. He posted a 40 time of 5.21 seconds, which was respectable, given the performances of the other players on hand.
Lewis at the NFL Combine
The issue, though, was that he measured in at 6-feet-4 and 332 pounds, with 33 1/2 inch arms, basically eliminating his chances to play his natural position — right tackle — at the NFL level.
The other issue at hand is that, while he is an ideal height to play guard for the Colts, he may be too heavy to play the position, considering the physical and athletic demands.
It is up to him to prove Indianapolis — as well as all the analysts, scouts, and teams that thought he wasn't worth drafting — wrong by excelling in OTAs, mini-camps, and training camp. At present, the evidence mounted against him coupled with the depth at the position would seem too great, but stranger things have happened.
He was highly recruited out of high school — albeit as a tackle — and does possess some upside, but he is definitely at the "put up or shut up" phase of his career. How he responds will determine the course of the rest of his career.
4. Tom Pestock
Pestock, out of Northwest Missouri State, is an interesting case in that he has the height to play tackle at nearly six feet seven inches, but has never been able to add the necessary bulk to play the position, currently tipping the scales at 296 pounds.
At present, he is far too lanky to play the tackle position and may lack the athletic ability and toughness to stand up to the level of skill at the defensive end position in the NFL even if he does bulk up.
If considered as a guard prospect, he is too tall and spread out and will probably be overwhelmed by the stronger, squatter, more powerful players with lower centers of gravity at the next level.
The fact remains, though, that Pestock's measurables cannot be taught by any coach. No matter how much Alan Williams tries, Bob Sanders will still be 5-feet-8. No matter how many holes in his his game, Pestock is still over six and a half feet tall and almost 300 pounds.
He could be an interesting project for Pete Metzelaars and possible consultant Howard Mudd, probably ending up on the practice squad for the 2009 season.
There is no way of escaping this simple fact for these prospects — the depth chart for the Colts on the offensive line, especially on the interior — is daunting and represents a serious challenge for all four of these men.
Barnes has some experience and Steuber is in his corner, so he has a fair shot. But, it would surprising, especially with the Colts drafting Jaimie Thomas in the seventh round, if he made the roster.
Pestock's best bet is to hope for the practice squad and some further development under the expert guidance of the Indianapolis staff and their consultants.
Lewis has a shot, since he could be a player in the mold of Charlie Johnson, playing both inside and outside as needed. But, he will need to show the Colts staff that he is capable of shouldering such a responsibility and the minor fact remains that Johnson is — and shall remain — on the roster.
DeVan has the best chance out of anyone, considering that he already has a year of experience under his belt. He may not have all the tools that Indianapolis is looking for, but they are — and have been — anxious to find a suitable replacement for Saturday in anticipation of his retirement.
Steve Justice or Jamey Richard may be the answer, but it would behoove the Colts to find out what DeVan brings to the table.
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