A look at the top prospects still available, after the draft


Well, they’re not really “draft prospects” anymore.

The 2011 NFL draft ended Saturday evening. The highest profile player not selected was Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich.

But here’s a look at other undrafted free agents with relatively big names and/or impressive college careers. Due to the league’s transactions freeze, these guys are probably currently fielding calls from the UFL and AFL. In a normal year, they’d already be signing with NFL teams:

1. West Virginia running back Noel Devine.

The pint-sized Devine was a three-time All-Big East pick after entering college as the nation’s No. 15 overall high school recruit. He averaged 5.92 yards per carry in his career and ran a 4.43 forty at the Mountaineers’ March 17 Pro Day. But perhaps 827 touches in college took too much of a toll on Devine’s 5-foot-7, 160-180 pound frame. His per-play production dropped dramatically as a senior.

2. Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin.

We’ve seen Devlin play quite a bit and were never impressed, but a lot of folks would’ve bet he’d at least get drafted. A former four-star recruit at Penn State, Devlin transferred to D-IAA Delaware and was hailed in some circles as “the next Joe Flacco” after throwing 22 touchdown passes compared to three interceptions as a senior. We suspect the same people who made the Flacco comparisons never actually watched Devlin.

3. Wisconsin running back John Clay.

Clay was smart to leave Wisconsin early because “backups” Montee Ball and James White are much better than him. (Remember the names: We’ll see Ball and White in the big leagues in a few years.) But let’s not forget that the bulldozing Clay was the 2009 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Even after shedding 30-some pounds after the Badgers’ season ended, however, Clay managed just a 4.87 forty time at the Combine. That’s way too slow for an NFL back.

4. Florida safety Will Hill.

Hill was a five-star high school recruit. We’re not aware of a single pre-draft visit or workout he was invited to aside from the Giants’ “local prospects day,” however, after this series of bad decisions was publicly revealed.

5. Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel.

McDaniel has an off-field flag in his background, but he was awfully productive at Clemson. He picked off 15 passes in his college career and led the Tigers in tackles last season. McDaniel was an ACC Academic Honor Roll pick in 2009 and 2010, so he’s no dummy.  There are questions about McDaniel’s range as a safety. Some projected him to linebacker.

6. South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders.

A Mel Kiper favorite before not playing a snap in 2010 due to an NCAA suspension, Saunders was a big-time recruit out of high school. It’s probably not surprising he went undrafted because Saunders needs foot surgery and has numerous character flags. He also wasn’t very productive for Steve Spurrier, managing six career touchdowns.

7. Auburn running back Mario Fannin.

Fannin was a career backup for the Tigers, but seemed flier worthy because of his ridiculous size-speed combo. At 5-foot-10, 231, Fannin blazed the Combine track with a 4.38 forty. He also displayed plenty of passing-game value for the defending BCS Champs, setting Auburn school records for receptions and receiving yards by a running back.

8. Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans.

Evans left early for the draft after starting ahead of a banged-up Ryan Williams at Virginia Tech last season. Williams, of course, was the 38th overall pick. Evans is a bruiser at 6-foot, 227, and ran a very respectable 4.58 forty at the Combine. Perhaps his fall was medical-related? Evans missed the entire 2009 season with a torn left ACL.

9. Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell.

Chappell is an erratic thrower, but he has a big arm and certainly could’ve turned some heads in a camp. An annual Big Ten All-Academic pick, Chappell threw 24 touchdowns compared to just nine interceptions as a senior and weighed in at 6-foot-2, 224 during his March 20 Pro Day after playing a bit overweight at Indiana. He’s a gunslinger.

10. Stanford linebacker/defensive end Tom Keiser.

Something is up with Keiser. The four-year junior was a surprise early entrant into the draft. He was snubbed for a Combine invite, then reportedly didn’t have a single team send representatives to his April 14 individual workout. Keiser racked up 19.5 career sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss in three seasons under Jim Harbaugh and Vic Fangio. We suspect he’ll be on the 49ers’ short list if undrafted free agents are allowed to sign at some point.

Others: Baldwin-Wallace defensive end/outside linebacker Keith Darbut, Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts, Marshall linebacker Mario Harvey, Auburn center Ryan Pugh, Miami running back Graig Cooper, Syracuse center Ryan Bartholomew, Auburn wide receiver Darvin Adams, Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien, Notre Dame defensive tackle Ian Williams, UConn linebacker Scott Lutrus, North Carolina safety Deunta Williams, North Carolina cornerback Kendric Burney, Rutgers safety Joe Lefeged, Pittsburgh fullback Henry Hynoski, LSU wide receiver Terrance Toliver, Ohio State wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher.

26 responses to “A look at the top prospects still available, after the draft

  1. As a Wisconsin fan, Tolzien will make it somewhere as a 3rd string QB and be in the league for several years.

    Also as a Wisconsin fan, John Clay will not make it.

  2. @kazwhopper…..Clay has a much better chance as longs he keeps his weight down. Tolzien is horrific and won’t make it on an NFL team or practice squad.

  3. that’s all fine and good………..but tell me true, tell me true, is there gonna be foowtball next years? I GOTS TO KNOW!….I needs my foowtsbawl or my life will be incomplete. Please lets me know!!!!

  4. Until i read Will Hills twitters, I was thinking he would be a great fit in Philly.

    But damn son, you must be one stupid stupid person. It is really hard to imagine that this dude is not in jail in the next 2 years. What an ignorant disgusting POS he has been raised to be. If any team signs him, they are simply just wasting their money.

  5. Will Hill tapped out of the Jersey championship in High School. I knew right then and there that his physical gifts would be wasted.

    He is a very good special teams player which might get him a FA offer. Might…

  6. Noel Devine will make it somewhere in a swingman spot similar to Harvin, but not as good. I think he was hurt by an injury filled senior season. He will always have health problems at his size in a mans league, but he is a good player.

  7. It’s a shame seeing what happened to John Clay. I think the Wisconsin coaches did him a dis-service by not keeping his playing weight under control. I think if he would’ve kept his weight down close to were he was his freshman year, he would’ve had a much more productive collegiate career and been a mid to late round pick…

  8. I’d take Devine. His size and lack of production last season made teams skeptical and rightfully so, but there is nothing to lose picking him up now. He’s still got the speed he came into college with and if his legs give out the team that picks him up won’t be out anything.

  9. You forgot Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon Honestly, Maehl and Sanzenbacher are basically the same prospect except Maehl is an inch and a half taller. I don’t see how you can include one and not the other as a “top undrafted prospect.”

  10. Devine and Jock Sanders both flew under the radar at WVU due to the relative mediocrity of the offense (old OC now at that traditional powerhouse UNC-Charlotte). They’re both tiny but could carve out a niche in the league ala Brandon Banks. Pretty surprising Toliver and Kris O’Dowd (C, USC) didn’t get drafted; I could see both of them sticking on a roster too

  11. Devine can’t block a lick. If he is used as a third down back he cant handle a blitzing LB.

    Very weak

  12. Maryland ILB Alex Wucjiak. Dude’s had no hype, no following, no notice- nothing. He was practically Troy Polamalu for the Terps during his tenure with them, and is going to be a real force to be reckoned with in the NFL, especially now that he was passed up by every NFL team.

  13. I would have bet Ryan Mallet’s fake hip hop vocal inflections that a West Virginia player woul be #1.

  14. NFL teams would be wise to give Henry Hynoski a shot….excellant blocker, great hands and was a sure thing in short yardage situations.

  15. Considering how thin the safety position was in this year’s draft, I’m surprised Boise State’s Jeron Johnson wasn’t taken. He would certainly have been signed by someone by now if it weren’t for the lockout.

  16. possiblecabbage says: May 1, 2011 4:57 PM

    You forgot Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon Honestly, Maehl and Sanzenbacher are basically the same prospect except Maehl is an inch and a half taller. I don’t see how you can include one and not the other as a “top undrafted prospect.”

    Silva doesn’t get out West too often, unless he’s unloading on the Raiders. He mentioned one token from Stanford, and was probably trying to think of someone from the Mountain West or WAC when his Mom called him in for his bath.

  17. I have a question for Mike Floro the lawyer. In this new NFL world of lockouts, litigation, and lawsuits do the undrafted college players have a case against the NFL for unfair labor practices? After all, with the re-instatement of the lockout the NFL is preventing them from pursuing a career in football. So, I’m thinking a class action suit?

    Not that we need another lawsuit but, then again, maybe we do as its “always darkest just before the dawn.”

  18. Miami’s Damien Berry should be mentioned too. Switched to RB as a Junior. He was very productive, and put up several 100 yard games when no one respected UMs passing offense.

  19. kingjoe1 says: May 1, 2011 3:41 PM

    Until i read Will Hills twitters, I was thinking he would be a great fit in Philly.

    And after you read them, you KNEW he’d be a great fit in philly.

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