Top 2021 UDFA signings to make each team: NFC
Which undrafted prospects could stick on NFC teams?
Lorenzo Burns, CB, Arizona
The Arizona Cardinals had a slow start to their 2021 UDFA signings. At the time of writing, they’d only added three more players to their seven-man 2021 NFL Draft haul. Cornerback was a huge need ahead of the draft, and they drafted Tay Gowan and Marco Wilson. Despite those additions, Lorenzo Burns should have a good chance of earning a roster spot. He’s experienced with good cover skills, and an offseason in an NFL strength and conditioning program should help him become more physical.
Erroll Thompson, LB, Mississippi State
Despite hitting on several needs in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons were active early and often with their UDFA signings. They’d added 16 players by Sunday morning, the most of any team. There’s a lack of depth on the Falcons’ roster at several positions. As a result, there’s a good chance several of their UDFAs make the roster.
Fayetteville State offensive lineman Kion Smith is one to keep an eye on — he could play both tackle and guard. However, Erroll Thompson’s ability as a run-stuffing middle linebacker should see him secure a roster spot. Thompson is also experienced and comes with leadership qualities.
David Moore, OG, Grambling State
Following an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, it was a huge surprise to see Grambling State’s David Moore go undrafted. Still, he has a great chance to make the Carolina Panthers as the best of their UDFA signings. Although they also added Alabama guard Deonte Brown, the versatility that Moore displayed in Mobile — lining up at both guard and center — should see him carve a spot on the Panthers’ roster. His ability in the run game will be beneficial to Christian McCaffrey.
Charles Snowden, LB, Virginia
The Chicago Bears had an excellent 2021 NFL Draft, landing Justin Fields and protection for him with Teven Jenkins. They also hit on most of their major needs. The UDFA signing of Charles Snowden from this 2021 class meets a linebacker need that they did not address during the three days in Cleveland. An injury may have influenced Snowden’s stock at the Senior Bowl. Nevertheless, he should make the roster as a player who can impact both the ground and air game.
Anthony Hines II, LB, Texas A&M
Although they added Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox during the draft, Anthony Hines II has the most talent out of all the Dallas Cowboys 2021 UDFA signings. Hines displays good pass coverage skills and has an NFL-ready athletic profile. Nonetheless, he’ll need the right coaching to bring out the best in him. Although Hines is arguably the most talented, watch out for Houston offensive lineman Braylon Jones — his versatility could help add depth on the offensive line.
Javon McKinley, WR, Notre Dame
The Detroit Lions followed up a strong 2021 NFL Draft by making a raft of impressive UDFA signings. Wide receiver was one of their biggest needs heading into the draft. Although they eschewed using their first-round pick at the position, they got great value later on with Amon-Ra St. Brown. They could get similar value out of UDFA signing Javon McKinley. Injuries have derailed McKinley’s career, and therefore he is a risk. Still, he has the size and athletic profile to be a successful receiver in the NFL if he can stay healthy.
Green Bay Packers
Christian Uphoff, S, Illinois State
Illinois State safety Christian Uphoff plays strong against the run. That skill set will be invaluable for a Green Bay Packers team that was easy to run on last season. Uphoff also has the ball skills, size, and speed to transition from the FCS level to the NFL. He impressed at the Senior Bowl, which has undoubtedly help raise his profile. Another of the Packers’ UDFA signings to watch out for is Iowa defensive tackle Jack Heflin, who possesses the skills and work ethic to secure a roster spot as a backup.
Los Angeles Rams
Alaric Jackson, OT, Iowa
The Los Angeles Rams had a particularly puzzling 2021 NFL Draft. Amongst some of those questionable choices was an avoidance of the offensive line, arguably their biggest need. In their small haul of initial 2021 UDFA signings, they added Alaric Jackson, the experienced left tackle out of Iowa. With little depth, it would be a surprise if he didn’t earn a roster spot. Jackson is effective and explosive, even if he lacks the strength of his former college teammate Tristan Wirfs.
Riley Patterson, K, Memphis
The Minnesota Vikings had a solid haul of UDFA signings following the 2021 NFL Draft. They picked up several players that have been considered draftable at different points in the process, including Jordon Scott, Whop Philyor, and Tuf Borland. Regardless, given that Dan Bailey was one of the worst kickers in the NFL in 2020, Riley Patterson could very well be a Day 1 starter for the Vikings. Although he had a down year in 2020, Patterson nailed 92 percent of his field goals in 2019 while converting 97.6 percent of his career extra-point attempts.
New Orleans Saints
Trill Williams, CB, Syracuse
Blessed with size and speed, Syracuse cornerback Trill Williams plays the game with physicality. It was a major surprise to see him go undrafted, especially given that he was ranked just outside the top 100 on Pro Football Network’s Chief NFL Draft Analyst Tony Pauline’s big board. Although they drafted Paulson Adebo, the New Orleans Saints need to add more depth at the cornerback position and Williams is a great fit.
New York Giants
Jake Burton, OL, Baylor
Surprisingly, the New York Giants didn’t address a shallow interior offensive line room in the 2021 NFL Draft. Yet, their initial small haul of three UDFA signings included two offensive linemen. Of those, Baylor’s Jake Burton could find himself on the roster by the start of the season. The UCLA transfer has the size and football intelligence to be a rotational backup piece at either guard or tackle.
Jamie Newman, QB, Georgia
A year ago, Jamie Newman was one of the hottest properties in college football after a phenomenal season for Wake Forest. Following a transfer to Georgia, he was expected to be a potential early-round selection in this draft. However, he opted out of the season, which ultimately torpedoed his stock. As a UDFA signing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Newman can challenge Joe Flacco for the backup role. His skill set as a dual-threat quarterback more closely resembles Hurts’ than Flacco does. It could make for an interesting camp battle.
San Francisco 49ers
Austin Watkins, WR, UAB
It seems unfathomable to me that Austin Watkins Jr. went undrafted. Although the 2021 NFL Draft had a deep wide receiver class, he represents an absolute steal for the San Francisco 49ers as one of their UDFA signings. Watkins demonstrated at the Senior Bowl that his production at UAB wasn’t just a product of the level of competition. The fit with the 49ers is excellent; he’ll be an exciting weapon for Trey Lance.
Tamorrion Terry, WR, FSU
In terms of true talent, Tamorrion Terry is clearly the best UDFA signing that the Seattle Seahawks have made so far in 2021. He’s a big-bodied pass catcher whose injury-plagued final season tarnished what had been an extremely productive career at FSU. He can provide a big-play threat for Russell Wilson if he can remain healthy. Although Terry and fellow wide receiver Cade Johnson are the standouts, linebacker Jon Rhattigan out of Army has a chance to make the roster due to a terrible lack of depth at the position.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lawrence White IV, S, Iowa State
Iowa State safety might not be the highest-ranked of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2021 UDFA signings. In fact, he was the 490th ranked prospect on Pauline’s final big board. Nonetheless, he has a shot to make the roster due to his football intelligence, strength against the run, and special-teams value. Furthermore, safety is one of the positions with the least depth. Offensive lineman Sadarius Hutcherson could also have a good chance of making the team, as could kicker Jose Borregales.
Washington Football Team
Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
At present, the Washington Football Team has only made one UDFA signing following the 2021 NFL Draft. Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson is coming off a phenomenal campaign where he was one of the most productive running backs in college football, equalling the record for touchdowns in a game. In spite of his diminutive stature, Patterson’s vision and physicality should ensure he provides a role for Washington.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.