After the excitement of the draft has dialed down, rosters continue to be filled out with veterans and rookies alike. There are many talented players that did not get selected in the draft, which leaves the UDFA pool filled with names that could make roster impacts.
In the 2021 NFL draft, a larger number of UDFAs were on NFL rosters compared to those drafted in any other specific round. Of course, the UDFA pool is much larger than the amount selected in each round, but the amount of UDFAs making an impact in the NFL is very eye opening.
This season should not be too different, as although teams, both in the AFC and NFC, filled some of their key needs in the draft, there are many talented UDFAs that have also been added to rosters that should be able to stick around.
Below, we will highlight the UDFA on each team who is most likely to make their roster and make an impact as a rookie.
Player: Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M
For much of the draft process, Wydermyer was viewed as a draftable player, who would be selected as early as day two in the draft. However, at his pro day, he did not test very well, which likely caused many teams to remove his name from their draft boards. However, Wydermyer has prototypical TE size, is just 21 years old, and is a skilled receiver. With depth openings behind Dawson Knox and newly signed OJ Howard, Wydermyer has a good chance to stay if he performs well.
New England Patriots
Player: LaBryan Ray, DT, Alabama
While the Patriots made many picks in the NFL draft, they were not done adding rookies to the roster. The Patriots, who rotate many of their DL throughout the game, can always use added depth at the position. Ray is a large athlete with an Alabama pedigree, which is something that HC Bill Belichick looks for thanks to his relationship with Alabama HC Nick Saban.
New York Jets
Player: DQ Thomas, LB, MTSU
The Jets made many splashes during the draft to improve their roster and made fewer UDFA signings than in past years, which may be a sign their roster is headed in the right direction. That said, they were still able to add some talent in DQ Thomas. Thomas can come in and compete in their LB room, as well as contribute on special teams, which is always the best way to earn a roster spot.
Player: Vernone Mckinley III, S Oregon
Thanks to the Tyreek Hill trade, the Dolphins had just four draft picks this year, so adding cheap, low-risk, players through the UDFA pool is vital for their roster construction. Right after the draft, they added Vernone McKinley III, who surprised many when he was not selected. He has serious ball-hawking skills and will have a good chance to make the roster in at least a special teams or back-up role.
Player: Kevin Austin Jr, WR, Notre Dame
The Jaguars made many key improvements all over their roster thanks to FA and the NFL draft, as their team looks very different from the roster they trotted out last season. Looking to add even more youth and depth, Jacksonville signed Notre Dame WR Kevin Austin Jr. Austin struggled with injuries throughout college but had a very productive final season before declaring for the draft. He tested as well as any other WR at the combine, showcasing his impressive H/W/S combination, and should be able to earn a roster spot in the WR room.
Player: Kolby Harvell-Peel, S, Oklahoma State
After the departure of Justin Reid this offseason, Houston drafted Jalen Pitre in the second round. Looking to add even more competition to a deep but relatively unknown safety room, they looked to the UDFA pool, signing Kolby Harvell-Peel. Harvell-Peel was named a third-team AP All-American in 2021, so he will look to bring the same success to the next level.
Player: Jayden Peevy, DT, Texas A&M
While the Titans have some big names making a difference upfront, they are still relatively thin at the position. Peevy is a project player at this point but is an intriguing signing thanks to his upside and the low risk of the signing. Peevy stands at 6050 with 35-inch arms, which can be a nightmare for smaller IOL.
Player: JoJo Domann, LB, Nebraska
With few high draft selections, the Colts made a big splash of both quantity and quality in the UDFA market by making many signings. They prioritized adding versatile defensive weapons, which was clear by bringing in JoJo Domann. An oversized safety, the very productive Domann offers a unique skillset as a cover LB and primary special teamer, which will help him stay on the roster.
Player: Jordan Tucker, OT, North Carolina
The Steelers were able to add many key players and fill needs on their roster during the draft, but still had some room to add key UDFAs. With a lack of depth at OT, newly signed Jordan Tucker out of North Carolina has a chance to make the roster. Tucker is a massive athlete who weighs 344 pounds and is effective in pass protection thanks to his prototypical arm length.
Player: Zakoby McClain, LB, Auburn
Baltimore was one of the major winners from the NFL draft weekend and did not stop adding talent in the UDFA pool, with players like Zakoby McClain. While McClain may not compete for a starting LB spot on the Ravens roster, he adds some much-needed depth at the position. McClain offers scheme versatility and can make plays on special teams as well, which will only help his chances to stay on the roster.
Player: Cal Adomitis, LS, Pittsburgh
If positional value had not mattered, Adomitis certainly would have been selected over the weekend, in a draft where no other long snappers were picked. Adomitis was the consensus top LS in the draft and was very successful at the college level. He should be able to come in right away and compete with current Bengals LS, 37-year-old Clark Harris.
Player: Mike Harley Jr, WR, Miami
The Browns have had somewhat of a revolving door at WR over the last calendar year, with the departures of Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry, then the additions of Amari Cooper and rookie David Bell. Still, Cleveland has a bit of a lack of depth at the WR position, Harley Jr will have a good chance of making the roster.
Los Angeles Chargers
Player: Brandon Sebastian, CB, Boston College
Los Angeles made many improvements on both sides of the ball this season, but still focused on adding depth pieces once the draft came to a close. Sebastian only bolsters the much-improved DB room, as he can make an impact at CB and on special teams.
Kansas City Chiefs
Player: Dustin Crum, QB, Kent State
The Chiefs made many value picks over the weekend, taking advantage of falling players, who can instantly be starters. In the UDFA pool, they added QB Dustin Crum. While the Chiefs have many backup options in place, the talented Crum will have a chance to come in and earn a roster spot. Crum is the 33rd Team’s top post-draft UDFA.
Las Vegas Raiders
Player: Tre Turner, WR, Virginia Tech
Despite the big improvements made at the WR position this offseason, the WR room is rather top-heavy and lacks much depth. As a result, they looked to the UDFA pool to improve at the position in the form of Tre Turner. Turner has been a steady producer at the college level over the past few seasons and despite his lack of size and high-level athleticism, should be able to make an instant impact in the league thanks to his versatility and plus ball skills.
Player: Christopher Allen, EDGE, Alabama
With the departure of Von Miller during this past season, Denver has been looking to fill the void he left rushing off the edge. They signed Randy Gregory and drafted Nick Bonitto in the second round to do so. However, a defense can never have too many pass rushers, and with the success they have found in former UDFA Malik Reed a few seasons ago, taking a chance on Allen is one that could pay off. Allen was very successful in 2020 and likely would have been drafted if he had not suffered an injury that kept him out of most of the 2021 season.
New York Giants
Player: Christopher Hinton, DT, Michigan
The newly led Giants have demonstrated their commitment to building up front on both sides of the ball during this offseason, particularly in the draft. Hinton is raw but his size and versatility can be a useful depth piece in New York.
Player: Carson Strong QB, Nevada
While the Eagles have committed to Jalen Hurts for this year at QB and also have Gardner Minshew on the roster, the opportunity to add a low risk signing of a higher ceiling player in Carson Strong was too hard to pass up on. Strong’s knee concerns are why he went undrafted, but his arm talent is undeniable.
Player: Devin Taylor, DB, Bowling Green
Washington made many moves throughout this offseason and added a large sum of UDFAs after the draft came to a close. With the loss of Landon Collins during FA, adding depth through the UDFA pool was very important. As a result, DB Devin Taylor may be able to earn a roster spot, as someone who can at least contribute on special teams.
Player: Alec Lindstrom, IOL, Boston College
The Cowboys sustained losses along the OL this offseason, specifically on the interior. Looking at the UDFA pool, they added Alec Lindstrom to provide much needed depth. The brother of Falcons OL Chris Lindstrom, Alec has a good chance to earn a roster spot depending on how he performs.
Player: Charleston Rambo, WR, Miami
The Panthers roster is rather deep at the WR positions, although it is a bit top-heavy. As a result, Carolina looked to the UDFA pool to increase the competition in the room. Adding Rambo does just that as someone who is coming off a 1,000-yard receiving season in the ACC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Player: Deven Thompkins, WR, Utah State
With Tom Brady back in the mix, adding more weapons by any means necessary is never a bad thing. Thompkins is very undersized but electric with the ball in his hands. He was a Semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Trophy and was named a Third Team All-American as an all-purpose player. Due to his versatility and return ability, he has a good chance to stick to an NFL roster.
New Orleans Saints
Player: Abram Smith, RB, Baylor
Some uncertainty surrounds Alvin Kamara and his 2022 arrest, so adding more competition and depth behind Kamara was a focus in the UDFA pool. Smith was a 1,600-yard rusher this year in the BIG 12 and has an opportunity to make an impact on this roster.
Player: Tyler Vrabel, OT, Boston College
The Falcons have to add more depth to their OL, specifically at the OT position. UDFA Tyler Vrabel is the son of HC Mike Vrabel and brings a lot of experience to the table. He will need more time to develop but could provide strong upside as a depth OL.
Player: Jack Sanborn, LB, Wisconsin
The new regime leading the Bears established a clear focal point at adding more pieces on the defensive side of the ball, likely due to key departures at the beginning of the offseason. In the UDFA pool, they focused on adding depth at the LB position in the form of Jack Sanborn, who looks like he could be an effective two-down backer at the very least.
Green Bay Packers
Player: Tyler Goodson, RB, Iowa
Green Bay has made many moves to get younger and cheaper throughout this offseason. They did this mostly through the NFL draft but continued to do so by signing many UDFAs. With another RB spot open on their roster, they added Tyler Goodson, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in the Big Ten last season.
Player: Derrick Deese Jr, TE, San Jose State
Over the past two offseasons, the Lions have been doing their best to get tough players who love football as a fundamental part of their rebuild, and Deese seems to fit that. Even though Detroit has a talented TE, the undersized but productive Deese should add some important depth to the room.
Player: Zach McCloud, EDGE, Miami
In their new regime, the Vikings have made many efforts toward improving the defense. They did this mostly through FA and the NFL draft but also added some talent on that side of the ball through UDFAs. McCloud is yet another player that brings versatility and can attack the QB.
Los Angeles Rams
Player: Cameron Dicker, K, Texas
Coined “Dicker the kicker,” Cameron Dicker has been one of the best kickers in college football over the past few seasons and was a semifinalist for the Ray Guy award in 2021. The Rams’ current kicker Matt Gay was fundamental to their Super Bowl run, but a competition between the two legs may be best for both the players and the team.
Player: Bubba Bolden, S, Miami
Seattle is in the early stages of its rebuild and started it off with important moves in the draft to add a strong core of young players. With a talented safety room already on the roster, adding a developmental safety and special teamer like the athletic Bubba Bolden is a good value signing as a UDFA.
Player: JaVonta Payton, WR, Tennessee
With the recent DeAndre Hopkins suspension and the loss of Christian Kirk earlier in this offseason, adding more weapons for Kyler Murray was fundamental. They did so by acquiring Marquise Brown via trade and then adding many UDFA WRs as well. JaVonta Payton is an intriguing wideout option who scored 6 TDs in his final collegiate season.
San Francisco 49ers
Player: Dohnovan West, IOL, Arizona State
With the departure of Laken Tomlinson to start free agency, it was vital for the 49ers to bolster the interior of their OL. West is primarily a center but will add to the depth of the group as a whole. He is experienced on the interior and should be able to stick around on a roster.