When the beginning of the 7th round rolls around in the draft, teams begin to call up rookies who haven’t been drafted yet and declare them priority free agents, players they want to sign to a deal after the last pick is made. Undrafted free agency has led to scores of productive players. John Randle and Warren Moon are Hall of Famers. Recent successes include Victor Cruz, Arian Foster and Brent Grimes.
From his experience in Green Bay, Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie knows the importance of undrafted free agents. Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, MD Jennings, and Frank Zombo all became big contributors to the Packers during his tenure. This year, the Raiders did not get some of the bigger names in undrafted free agency, but did get some possible hidden gems.
Here is the list:
FB Karl Williams, Utah
WR Mike Davis, Texas
TE Scott Simonson, Assumption
RB George Atkinson, Notre Dame
WR D.J. Coles, Virginia Tech
TE Jake Murphy, Utah
OT Danny Kistler, Montana
WR Noel Grigsby, San Jose State
LB Carlos Fields, Winston Salem State
DE Austin Flynn, Arkansas
QB Rob Henry, Purdue
Davis is one of the biggest names. He finishes his four years in Austin with the fourth most catches (200), and fourth most yards (2,753) in school history. He is a known vertical receiver, with excellent speed and a large catch radius. He does struggle going side to side and has his share of drops, but he could prove a useful contribution to the Raiders, who turned Rod Streater from a deep threat undrafted free agent to a full time starter.
The other big signing was Atkinson, who is the son of the legendary Raiders defensive back. With his father being his recruiter, Atkinson wasn’t going anywhere besides Oakland. He is a speed back, with criticisms for running too upright and being unable to run between the tackles. He has only carried the ball more than nine times in a game three times in his career, and was suspended for the Pinstripe Bowl this past year for what he alleges was texting during a team dinner.
Atkinson’s speed does contribute to special teams, as he was the primary kickoff returner during his career, and has two return touchdowns. This could be his ticket to cracking a cluttered backfield in Oakland, who lack any experienced return men outside of Taiwan Jones.
The rest of them obviously have skills that the Raiders are interested in, and could impress in camp. There are still remaining undrafted free agents, such as Florida cornerbacks Marcus Roberson and Louchiez Purifoy. Purifoy I noted as one who the Raiders might be interested in late in the draft, and even mocked him to Oakland in my latest mock. Both have issues as to why they didn’t get drafted, and Alligator Army at SB Nation does a pretty outstanding job explaining their flaws.
Two days after the draft, they are still both reportedly unsigned. This is a mighty red flag on both of them if no team is willing to even invite them to a minicamp. The Raiders now have plenty of cornerback depth after free agency and the Draft and probably don’t need either, but it would not hurt to invite them to the rookie minicamp.
With the draft now completely over, the Raiders roster is mostly set. They could still look to a couple free agents they were waiting until after the draft to decide on. They could afford some depth at edge pass rushers, safety, and possibly offensive tackle.
For more news, analysis and opinion, visit our Oakland Raiders page