Undrafted Wide Receivers to Watch: Bills, Rams, Texans, Jets and More
We all know the story of Victor Cruz, as well as countless other wide receivers that were ignored on draft day, but went on to become significant contributors. Here are some wide receivers from this year’s class that went undrafted, but have the skills to be impact players in the NFL.
Da’Rick Rogers – The Buffalo Bills hit the jackpot when they signed Rogers as an undrafted free agent. Rogers has a wealth of character issues to be concerned about, which is why he was kicked off the team at Tennessee and forced to transfer last season, but Rogers has as much talent as any wide receiver that was drafted in the first three rounds of the draft. He has the size and physical attributes that NFL teams drool over, and if he can get his head on straight and put forth effort and dedication, he could become a starting wide receiver in the league for a long time.
Emory Blake – Blake has NFL genes and stood out in college football’s best conference early in his career, but his team lacked a proficient quarterback late in his career, and the lack of production hurt his stock, which caused him to go undrafted. He has enough size to play outside and enough speed to push the defense vertically, as well as the quickness to be used on short passing routes. That skill set will make Blake a useful fourth or fifth receiver if he’s able to play well on special in order to hold a roster spot. He signed with St. Louis, who appears to be overhauling their corps of wide receivers with the drafting of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Blake is a nice complement to those two receivers, as he can help stretch the field vertically and open up the middle of the field for Austin and Bailey to attack with their speed. This gives Blake an opportunity to not only stay on an NFL roster, but also become an integral part of the Ram’s passing attack.
Alec Lemon – Don’t pay attention to his measurables, just look at his production. Just as he did in high school, all Lemon did in college was catch the ball, breaking Rob Moore’s record for career receptions at Syracuse. He has one of the strongest sets of hands of any wide receiver in this year’s class and will catch anything thrown his way, catching all the close-range fastballs Ryan Nassib threw at him for the past three years. Lemon’s not afraid to go across the middle, which makes him perfect to play the slot position in the NFL. He signed after the draft with the Texans, who have plenty of size on the outside, but need someone to play in the slot, which could make Lemon the perfect fit for them.
Brandon Kaufman – An injury his senior year of high school kept the 6’5’’ Kaufman from playing BCS football and drawing more attention. Even 93 catches for 1,850 yards at Eastern Washington wasn’t enough to get him drafted, but it got him a free agent deal with the Bills, a team that’s in dire need of wide receivers. He’s tall and long with an NFL body, and he knows how to use it in order to catch the football. He’s dangerous in both the red zone and on vertical routes. The things Kaufman lacks like route running are all skills that can be taught by NFL coaches, while Kaufman has a lot of natural ability that can’t be taught, and if he can put the two together he’ll be a starter in the NFL.
Ryan Spadola – Spadola comes from Lehigh and signed with the New York Jets, who could have another Wayne Chrebet on their hands, as Chrebet also came from a small school. He has great pass-catching abilities and a surprising amount of vertical speed. Spadola will probably end up playing the slot, but he has the skills to do a lot of damage from that position and become an impact player.