With the recent initial signing of undrafted free agents, I was interested in which prospects the experts think will be this year's hidden NFL gems.
Russ Lande of the Sporting News offered his Top 10 that included University of Washington RB Chris Polk (Eagles) and Alabama WR Marquis Maze (Steelers).
Lande's list was comprised of players strictly from recognizable colleges and universities: Southern Cal, Tennessee, VA Tech, etc.
He offers this caveat to his article:
Players often go undrafted due to medical concerns, character issues or size questions. Below is a breakdown of the 10 best undrafted prospects, available as free agents.
I think Lande forgets another important reason that players do not get selected.
Lack of game tape.
Some talent slips past NFL scouts because they either play for small schools or had focused on another sport and only recently began playing football.
Scouts have seen every game of potential recruits from USC or Notre Dame.
They are familiar.
In contrast, how much video of players from Murray State (KY) or Bowie State (TX) have the experts evaluated?
It takes much more time to rate a player who competes against lower levels of competition--and is certainly more of a guessing game.
As such, I prefer to look for a list of best free agents that includes players from schools that I have barely heard about.
In that vein, I like the compilation by Rob Rang from The SportsXchange/CBSSports over Lande's best.
Rang included these players:
Dale Moss (WR) South Dakota State University (Packers)
A converted basketball player, Moss played football only one year, but led his team with 61 receptions and 6 touchdowns. He is 6'3 and runs around 4.40 forty-yard dash.
James Brown (G) Troy State University (Bears)
Great blocker who played well at the Senior Bowl.
Chigbo Anunoby (DT) Morehouse College (Colts)
A 325 lbs. run stuffer--viewed as a NG.
In sum, talent evaluators can't be everywhere, and every year there are some excellent prospects from small colleges/universities flying below the radar.
This season will be no different.