Analysis of the Notable 2024 UDFA Signings

Every year, hundreds of players who hoped to hear their names called go undrafted. This is not the end of their journey, however. Many of these players will be signed by NFL teams and given a chance to make their rosters; many of them will do just that. There are actually more UDFAs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame than first-round picks. The fact that there are multiple UDFAs for every first-round pick helps their chances, but the underlying point remains: you can make it in the NFL as UDFA. In the sections below, I list the notable 2024 UDFA signings accomplished by each team (in alphabetical order) along with short commentaries.

I actually feel that a UDFA is in a better position than a 7th-round pick. I know that every player wants to be drafted, but a UDFA can pick his situation instead of having it dictated to him. His contract will also be shorter by a year (3 years vs. 4 years), enabling him to hit free agency sooner and cash in if he flourishes. For all these reasons, it’s important to get to know some of the UDFAs being signed this week and over the next couple of months. These players were either expected to be drafted but passed over or players who were simply undervalued by teams and need just one opportunity to prove themselves.

I’ll stop rambling here; let’s get to the signings! If I missed anyone, please let me know in the comments! I tried to discuss at least one player for each team. This post may be updated if more notable UDFAs sign, so check back occasionally.

Arizona Cardinals

WR Xavier Weaver, Colorado: After toiling at USF while producing decent numbers, Weaver transferred to Colorado to play for Deion Sanders. That worked out well, as he set career-highs with 68 catches for 908 yards. Arizona is signing him to a contract with a substantial $255K guarantee. I don’t blame them, as Weaver has fantastic run after catch ability, and he’s a good punt returner. The Cardinals drafted Marvin Harrison Jr, but the rest of the depth chart is wide open at WR. If Weaver starts on special teams, he can carve out a role on offense.

Atlanta Falcons

P Ryan Sanborn, Texas: Honestly, the Falcons were as inspiring with their UDFAs as they were with their draft. I tried to find someone who could plausibly make the team, and I settled on a punter. Punters are people too! The Falcons currently have Bradley Pinion, who is a fine player, but Sanborn would be considerably cheaper. He had a career-high 45.7 yards per punt last season, so the two players might be comparable. With specialists, the tie usually goes to the rookie.

Baltimore Ravens

S Beau Brade, Maryland: I saw outlets with Brade graded as highly as a 3rd-round pick. Strong safeties aren’t premium players anymore, but Brade is outstanding in run support. He’s also athletic enough to cover on the back end. Baltimore drafted 2 CBs but no safeties. Kyle Hamilton is locked into one spot, but Brade could push for the second or third safety job. The Ravens love tall, rangy DBs, and Brade qualifies at 6’1″.

Buffalo Bills

RB Frank Gore Jr, Southern Mississippi: One theme you’ll see on this list is a lot of players related to people previously or currently involved in the NFL. The son of the great Frank Gore, the younger Gore is not nearly as big as his father, but he plays like it. He topped 1000 yards in each of the past 2 seasons and scored 19 TDs over that span. Gore Jr even has wildcat QB experience (7 career TD passes!). There’s a spot on the Bills for such a tenacious player with NFL-level vision.

Carolina Panthers

K Harrison Mevis, Missouri: While I hate drafting kickers with the UFL around, signing them as UDFAs is encouraged. Eddy Pineiro has been adequate, but he doesn’t have the same leg as Mevis, who set an SEC record with a 61-yard FG. Accuracy can be a bit hit-and-miss, though his career average is a solid 83.5%. He can give Pineiro a run for his money, and his price tag will certainly be a selling point.

WR Jalen Coker, Holy Cross: The UDFA ranks are home to plenty of small-school prospects with great production but question marks regarding their speed and level of competition. Coker was a 1000-yard receiver last year who caught 26 TD passes over the past 2 seasons. While his speed might not be great, he compensates with plenty of size at 6’3″. Obtaining weapons for Bryce Young has been a priority, and Coker is another potential option.

Chicago Bears

QB Austin Reed, Western Kentucky: Anyone who puts up monster stats gets a look, and playing QB for WKU basically guarantees bonkers numbers. Bailey Zappe proved it a couple years ago, and now it’s Reed’s turn. In his 2 years as a starter, Reed threw for 8086 yards and 71 TDs. That’s not a direct line to NFL success, but he can at least compete with Tyson Bagent, a UDFA from last year, for the #2 job behind Caleb Williams.

Cincinnati Bengals

LB Aaron Casey, Indiana: If we just judged Casey by his production, there’s no way that he would go undrafted. In 2023, he had career highs with 109 tackles, 20 TFLs, and 6.5 sacks. Casey played with physicality and performed like a good 2-down LB. His testing numbers, however, weren’t as strong in the speed and explosiveness departments. He also needs to work a bit on his vision. Casey is at least a core special teamer, which will be how he makes the team before developing further.

Cleveland Browns

G Javion Cohen, Miami: The Hurricanes had several linemen go undervalued, but the biggest draft snub had to be Cohen. In a passing league, you’d think that plus pass protectors would be hot commodities. The Browns already drafted G Zak Zinter from Michigan, and they’ve got 2 great guards on the roster in Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller. That all makes this an unlucky landing spot for Cohen, whose strong anchor and heavy hands would be worthy of a spot elsewhere. I wonder if Cohen can parlay a good preseason showing into a job with another team, because it seems he was simply overlooked.

Dallas Cowboys

TE Brevyn Spann-Ford, Minnesota: Dallas already has plenty of TEs on their roster, but they just gave Spann-Ford $245K guaranteed, so let’s take a look. He has mediocre receiving production, but he excels as a blocker. The Cowboys struggled in the ground game last year, so it makes sense to take a Y tight end who can contribute to opening holes for RBs. He’ll need to drop less passes to actually make the roster though.

Denver Broncos

RB Blake Watson, Memphis: Universally considered the best UDFA running back available, Watson had plenty of suitors. Denver ultimately gave him $250K guaranteed, the highest number I’ve seen so far, to choose them. Watson actually reminds me of another former Memphis RB: Tony Pollard. He ran for over 1100 yards last year with 14 TDs, but his special skill is his receiving ability. Very comfortable catching passes out of the backfield, Watson will challenge Samaje Perine for the 3rd-down role.

OT Frank Crum, Wyoming: I believe that Crum only went undrafted because the 2024 offensive line class was historically good. A 6’7″, 315-lb lineman with plenty of experience at both LT and RT shouldn’t have to fight too hard to make a roster. Denver needed some O-line reinforcements, and I think Crum will carve out a role as a swing tackle very early on. The Broncos have nothing behind their starting tackles, making this a really good landing spot for Crum.

Detroit Lions

LB Steele Chambers, Ohio State: Slightly limited athletes with copious starting experience are welcome as UDFAs. Chambers, a 3-year starter who is on the smaller size for an LB, fits the bill. That playing time has honed his instincts in the run game, where he earned 83 tackles last year. His man coverage skills are also developed, but I’d keep him away from zone plays, where he gets lost. As with many undrafted players, Chambers’ path to a roster spot goes through special teams, where he also has experience.

WR Isaiah Williams, Illinois: A slower 40 time (4.63 s) caused Williams to slide out of the draft, but it didn’t stop him from earning a $240K guarantee with Detroit. The Lions lost Josh Reynolds, so Williams will have a chance to compete for playing time in the slot. He is very productive, having earned 1055 receiving yards in 2023. Quicker than fast, Williams has short area quickness that won’t register in a pure sprint. WRs who can separate are QBs’ friends, so Williams has a chance here.

Green Bay Packers

OT/G Donovan Jennings, South Florida: A $110K guarantee seems a bit middling, but not for Green Bay. The Packers handed out a grand total of $0 guaranteed to UDFAs in 2023, so they must really like Jennings. The team didn’t draft as many linemen as necessary, so there’s opportunity here. Jennings started 45 games at LT in college, but he’s a candidate to move inside at the next level. More than most teams, the Packers like versatility in their linemen. That gives Jennings a leg up as far as making the team.

Houston Texans

WRs Jaxon and Jadon Janke, S Dakota State: Here’s a two-for-1 special! These brothers both played for the Jackrabbits, and the Texans have signed both of them as UDFAs. They’re identical twins who are each listed at 6’3″, 210 lbs. Both were productive WRs, though Jadon steadily improved while Jaxon had 3 good seasons in a row. If I had to bet on one making the roster, it would thus be Jaxon, but either of them could be a nice possession receiver or red zone target.

Indianapolis Colts

QB Kedon Slovis, BYU: The Colts believe they have their franchise QB in Anthony Richardson (we’ll see), and they signed Joe Flacco to be the backup this season. However, they need a long-term developmental backup, and they didn’t draft any QBs. Perhaps this is where Slovis comes in. His career started out great, when he threw 30 TDs as a freshman at USC. He leveled off since and went to 2 other schools, but he’s very experienced. Slovis’ talent level suggests a backup or 3rd-string QB, but that’s all Indy is looking for here.

Jacksonville Jaguars

WR Joshua Cephus, UTSA: A 5th-year senior, Cephus saw his production rise each year. 2023 was his finest season, as he caught 89 passes for 1151 yards and 10 TDs. As usual, a slow 40 turned teams away, but Cephus has length at 6’2″, which should enable him to separate vertically. He has strong hands and makes contested catches, but the thing that might help him make the roster is his run blocking. Coaches LOVE receivers who can seal the edge, and Cephus does that even better than some drafted WRs.

S Josh Proctor, Ohio State: Proctor played 6 years in college due to his injury history. Somehow, he kept more talented youngsters at bay to remain the starter. An SS/LB tweener, Proctor did his best work near the line of scrimmage in run support. That type of player is quickly being phased out, but I don’t really understand it. Athletes in the middle of the defense are valuable, and if Proctor can play special teams, his chances of making the team will improve.

Kansas City Chiefs

RB Carson Steele, UCLA: I wrote about Steele back in 2022 as part of MACtion. His transfer to UCLA was a mixed bag. He had more competition for carries, but he maintained his sterling 5.1 YPC and earned 847 yards. Proving that he could play against Power 4 opponents was important, but it didn’t get him drafted. KC is a good landing spot because they have Isiah Pacheco, another unheralded back whose tenacity forced him into the starting lineup. Steele could take a similar route, and I really like him in the passing game as well.

LB Curtis Jacobs, Penn State: Jacobs is a typically athletic Penn State defender. He profiles as a 2-down LB due to his coverage deficiencies. However, he’s very good at the line of scrimmage, earning 9 TFLs last year while also earning 9 sacks over the past 3 seasons. Special teams is Jacobs’ way to the 53-man roster, but the Chiefs do need someone to replace Willie Gay, who had a similar profile. Jacobs could easily be that guy.

OT Ethan Driskell, Marshall: Large tackle prospects always get a look. At 6’8″, Driskell is one of the largest of them all, but he doesn’t have a ton of experience. Two years as a starter in a gimmicky college offense didn’t prep him well for the pros, but he has traits to develop. KC needs some offensive linemen to emerge, so Driskell could get a chance to improve and see playing time down the road.

Las Vegas Raiders

QB Carter Bradley, South Alabama: Another NFL legacy, Bradley is the son of Colts DC Gus Bradley. His 2022 season was his best campaign, when he threw for 3335 yards and 28 TDs. Smaller-school QBs are often athletically limited, and Bradley is no exception. His arm is adequate but occasionally erratic, which makes him a lot like incumbent starter Aidan O’Connell. I’m not sure if Bradley offers much more than his last name, but this is a good team to try and make.

WR/KR Lideatrick Griffin, Mississippi State: I really thought Griffin would be taken on day 3 of the draft. His receiving production is good, but more importantly, he’s my top-ranked KR in the class in a year when we have new kickoff rules that benefit returners. Griffin, who earned 658 yards and 4 TDs last year, is likely limited to the slot due to his 5’10” stature, but he’s not making the team as a WR. If he brings the explosive kick returning ability that he had in college, he’s a shoo-in for this roster.

Los Angeles Chargers

S Akeem Dent, Florida State: I think Dent got sold short. He’s 6’1″ with a 4.45-s 40, so athleticism isn’t a concern. Dent was also productive, with 44 tackles and 2 forced fumbles. The Bolts already have one FSU safety on the roster in Derwin James, and he probably approves of this signing. Dent’s biggest issue is that he’s still learning the position as a former CB. Given time, he can work his way up from special teams to playing time on defense.

CB Ja’Quan Sheppard, Maryland: Max Melton got all the attention among Maryland CBs, but Sheppard posted a quality season for the Terps after 4 years with Cincinnati. Most of his production is great: 31 tackles (3 TFLs) and 8 PBUs. He also has good length at 6’2″, so what’s wrong? Ball production. He comes into the NFL with 0 career INTs, and some teams really don’t like that. Sheppard’s $230K guarantee suggests that LA is fine with him just providing good coverage, which is great news for him.

Los Angeles Rams

WR Drake Stoops, Oklahoma: We may as well call this the “UDFA Bloodlines Class.” The son of legendary coach Bob Stoops, Drake actually joined the Sooners after his dad left. He earned his playing time on his own merits, morphing into a good slot receiver. After 5 years of minimal production, Stoops broke out in 2023 with 962 yards and 10 TDs. If we assume that this is a new normal and not a fluke, Stoops will be in good shape. I just don’t love the fit with Cooper Kupp already on the team.

Miami Dolphins

CB Storm Duck, Louisville: Tired of being the only person who could cover at UNC, Duck transferred to Louisville, where he helped lead a defensive resurgence. Duck had 5 career INTs, though he only had picks in two different seasons. His coverage was sticky, and he defended 16 passes over the past two years. As a result, Miami apparently had competition for his services. It’s good they got him, as they released Xavien Howard and are relying on the unproven Cam Smith to step in. Duck can play at least a part-time role very soon for this team.

Minnesota Vikings

DE Gabriel Murphy, UCLA: Murphy got very little attention because his teammate and fellow edge rusher was Laiatu Latu. At 6’2″ and 238 lbs, he’s undersized but very fast. That explosiveness earned him 8 sacks and 16 TFLs in 2023, which would’ve led plenty of teams. The Vikings lost Danielle hunter but added numerous new rushers, including 1st-round pick Dallas Turner. Thus, this player-team fit isn’t ideal. Hopefully Murphy can show out in the preseason and latch on somewhere, because he at least deserves to be part of a rotation.

New England Patriots

RB Deshaun Fenwick, Oregon State: It’s no secret that the Patriots need playmakers. At RB, they let Ezekiel Elliott leave, so they don’t have much aside from Rhamondre Stevenson and the fumble-prone Antonio Gibson. Fenwick never had a bunch of carries in a season with the Beavers, but it’s hard to see why. His career average yards per carry figure stood at 5.3. That benefits NE though, as he has plenty of tread left on his tires. A bigger back, Fenwick can be a hammer-style RB who takes some of the load off of Stevenson.

New Orleans Saints

S Millard Bradford, TCU: Unfortunately, I nailed this one in my Combine losers article. Bradford tested really well and had good speed (4.42 s 40), but his drills really damaged his stock. I actually believe that the overall devaluing of the safety position hurt him more than the Combine. The thing about Bradford is that he can also play slot CB. He played well for TCU last season, earning 41 tackles, 5 PBUs, and 2 INTs. New Orleans needs help in the middle of the secondary, so perhaps Bradford can stick.

TE Dallin Holker, Colorado State: Transferring to CSU was a brilliant decision by Holker, who had few opportunities at BYU. With the Rams, he put up some of the best receiving production among TEs in this class. Holker caught 64 passes for 767 yards and 12 TDs. Aside from Swiss army knife Taysom Hill, the Saints don’t have much at TE. While Holker is not a blocker, passing game options are what NO needs, making this a really nice fit.

DE Trajan Jeffcoat, Arkansas: Having played his first 4 years at Missouri, Jeffcoat stayed in the SEC for year 5, and he a had a nice year for the Razorbacks. He earned 8.5 TFLs and 4 sacks, showing balance against the run and pass. Current Saints DE Cam Jordan is the prototype for a pass rusher who also excels against the run, so his teaching will be invaluable for Jeffcoat. Jordan will need a successor at some point, so why not this man from Arkansas?

New York Giants

OT Marcellus Johnson, Missouri: Johnson didn’t play a lot in 2023 because of injury, but he had done well for Eastern Michigan in prior seasons. Unlike most lower-tier tackle prospects, Johnson is a good pass protector, and it’s his run blocking that needs work. NYG saw enough to hand him $170K guaranteed, because that’s what you do when your RT spot is such a turnstile. Evan Neal has not panned out, and the team’s depth is poor. That gives Johnson a great chance not only to make the team but to play.

New York Jets

DT Leonard Taylor III, Miami: Taylor was a 5-star recruit with immense talent. So what happened? He never quite played up to his potential, but traits usually make a guy a late-round flier at minimum. Excellent NFL reporter Charlie Campbell says that character concerns might have removed Taylor from draft boards. The Jets’ crowded defensive line room might not seem like a good opportunity, but I disagree. He’ll have plenty of people challenging him, including star Quinnen Williams. If Taylor can improve his work ethic, he has starting-level ability.

Philadelphia Eagles

RB Kendall Milton, Georgia: Unlike many Georgia RBs, Milton never got the chance to hog the workload for himself. As a result, he didn’t have the splash plays or statistical volume to get drafted. The Eagles, lovers of UGA players, still gave him $250K guaranteed after signing Saquon Barkley and drafting Will Shipley. Milton did well with his limited carries, earning 790 yards at 6.5 per clip to go with 14 TDs. Unlike Shipley, Milton is a bigger bruising back. Perhaps the team envisions him as a goal-line back and Barkley insurance. With Barkley’s injury history, that might not be a bad bet for Milton.

DT Gabe Hall, Baylor: Hall played better in 2022 than in 2023, but I thought his dominant Senior Bowl performance would redeem him in the eyes of scouts. The entire Baylor team had a down year, so Hall can reasonably expect to bounce back. A tall but light DT (6’5″, 290 lbs), he relies on his length more than his power. I think his struggles come from his technique. They say that “the low man wins”, but Hall didn’t get the memo, playing with too much of an elevated stance. With some coaching, his talent can be groomed, but this is a very deep defensive line to try and break into.

Pittsburgh Steelers

QB/WR John Rhys Plumlee, UCF: I list both positions here because he played both in college and was most recently a QB, but I can’t see Plumlee making it in the NFL as a signal caller. He never put up big receiving numbers (his career-high yardage was 201, and he never caught a TD), but his athleticism lends itself well to the role. Plumlee does have a 1000-yard rushing season and possesses 4.49 speed, so he comes with tools. If anyone can develop him into a profession WR, it’s the Steelers.

CB Beanie Bishop Jr, West Virginia: Some players just take time to develop. For Bishop, that meant going to 3 schools over 6 years, starting at Western Kentucky and playing a year in Minnesota before spending 2023 in West Virginia. He saved his best for last, earning 4 INTs and a ridiculous 20 PBUs to go with 67 tackles. Bishop also comes with 4.33 speed, so his only knock is his height (5’10”). With this sort of resume, I still can’t believe nobody drafted him as a slot CB. Now he has a chance.

San Francisco 49ers

WR Terique Owens, Missouri State: Yes, we have another NFL relative. This one isn’t nearly as well-known, but we’re actually discussing the son of Terrell Owens. Not highly recruited, the younger Owens bounced around before finally putting up some stats in 2023, with 528 yards and 10 TDs at the FCS level. SF has a bunch of receivers, so he’s not likely to make the final roster. I said “notable” UDFAs, not “the best” UDFAs (though the rest of them really are the best or most intriguing prospects).

RB Cody Schrader, Missouri: This is why I question the 49ers drafting a mid-round RB every year. Famous for being a walk-on who would never give up, Schrader lived his dream and started for Missouri in 2023, earning 1627 yards and 14 TDs. He’s an incredibly tough runner who makes up for limited athleticism with sheer willpower. I’d say that he shouldn’t really make the team with Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, and Isaac Guerendo on the roster, but who has doubted Schrader and not regretted it? I certainly won’t be the first.

Seattle Seahawks

PR Dee Williams, Tennessee: You might not know of Williams as either a WR or a DB, two positions he (sparingly) played in college. Followers of this site know, however, that he’s one of my top punt returners in this class. Seattle’s previous returner, DeeJay Dallas, left for Arizona, so that spot is open and in need of filling. Williams could make the team based on that skill alone, as he’s an electrifying returner with a pair of punt return TDs to his name.

DE Nelson Ceaser, Houston: The Cougars moved up to the Big XII, so some regression was expected. Not for Ceaser. He had his best season, earning 9.5 sacks and 13.5 TFLs. As with many undrafted yet productive edge rushers, Ceaser is undersized. That means stopping the run will likely always be a challenge for him. Look for him to try and take the Bryce Huff pass. He too was a UDFA who didn’t play on run downs. His role was a pass rushing specialist, which he excelled at. Ceaser can do the same because he’s so explosive and possesses an arsenal of pass rushing moves.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

LB/S Kalen DeLoach, Florida State: Though DeLoach was strictly an LB in college, his frame suggests a strong safety role. At 6’1″ and 213 lbs, I doubt he could hold up at LB. His college production was noteworthy, as he had 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 68 tackles (10.5 for loss) on a fantastic Seminoles defense. DeLoach started for 3 years, so he has experience, and he showed athleticism with a 4.47-s 40 time. He reminds me of the NYJ version of Jamal Adams, i.e., a safety who hangs around the line of scrimmage and wreaks havoc. HC Todd Bowles loves to blitz, so he could have fun with DeLoach.

Tennessee Titans

RB Dillon Johnson, Washington: Don’t judge Johnson by his CFP performance, unless you want to commend him for toughing out those games despite a painful foot injury. Instead, look at his whole season, when he ran for 1195 yards and 6 TDs. A bigger back at 6’0″ and 215 lbs, Johnson has surprisingly quick feet. He’s a classic one-cut runner who always wants to get upfield. Tennessee has two receiving backs in Tony Pollard and Tyjae Spears, so a bruiser like Johnson provides something different.

Washington Commanders

QB Sam Hartman, Notre Dame: I’ll never understand Hartman transferring to Notre Dame. He was exceeding his skill set at Wake Forest, throwing 39 and 38 TDs in successive seasons. His production predictably took a step back in 2023, but he was still good. The Commanders liked him enough to give him $245K guaranteed, but I don’t think he’ll even beat out Marcus Mariota for the QB2 job. Hartman is known to have a low ceiling, but he’s a fiery competitor. If Washington keeps 3 QBs, I’d favor him over Jeff Driskel and Jake Fromm.

CB Chigozie Anusiem, Colorado State: When you’re looking for UDFAs with great opportunities to make their teams, follow the money. In this case, Anusiem got $350K guaranteed, the largest sum among all rookie free agents. A long CB (6’1″) with sound tackling and good coverage, Anusiem became a starter for the Rams after transferring from California. Apparently a bunch of teams wanted him, but he chose correctly. HC Dan Quinn is known for developing CBs, and this team desperately needs contributors in the secondary, giving Anusiem a great opportunity to carve out a career.

S Tyler Owens, Texas Tech: Yet another safety who fell out of the draft, Owens is best known for his…let’s say “bizarre” opinions. As a player, he’s an elite athlete for the Commanders to groom. They knew of his physical talent, giving him $225K guaranteed to sign. He’s so raw that he has plenty of room to grow. At 6’2″, he’s also long enough to play in the box or against TEs. If he sticks to football and avoids making providing “scientific” commentary, he can succeed.

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