The search for undrafted players that can turn into difference makers in the NFL continues. Today, we look at players in the defensive front seven that have a chance to carve out long and fruitful NFL careers for themselves, even after going undrafted.
Chase Thomas – Thomas was arguably the best linebacker left on the board when the draft ended, after being the leader of a stout Stanford defense last season. He has the size and strength to play in the NFL as a linebacker, as well as an edge rusher, depending on the scheme. What he lacks in length and pure pass-rushing skills he more than makes up for with intensity and a high motor, not to mention intelligence. Thomas has great instincts, and it’s why he was such a productive player in college, including All-American honors his junior season. The New Orleans Saints are grateful that he went undrafted, because they got a major steal by signing him after the draft because Thomas is a player that can start in the NFL for quite some time.
Kwame Geathers – Geathers was overshadowed by John Jenkins, who was drafted by the Saints in the third round, at Georgia the past two seasons, which is he didn’t draw enough attention to get drafted. With so many 3-4 defenses in the NFL these days, there has to be room on somebody’s roster for a player as big as Geathers that can take up space and force double teams. He’s been inconsistent at times and he’ll need to start out as a backup and work his way up, but Geathers has the size and the tools to be a force in the NFL along the defensive line.
Shaq Wilson – His size is not what NFL teams want, but you don’t play four years of linebacker in the SEC without bringing something to the table. The South Carolina defense was filled with stars the last few seasons, but Wilson was the leader in the middle of the defense that brought everything together. He plays sideline to sideline, and his small size doesn’t stop him from being a solid tackler and delivering hard hits to running backs, as he’s as physical as any linebacker out there. If NFL teams can get past his size, there’s no reason why he can’t be a useful player on special teams and get on the field on defense as a situational player. All he needs is an opportunity.
Cory Grissom – He was held back by injury during his time in college, and also had difficulty drawing the NFL’s while playing on a bad defensive team last season, but Grissom is a legitimate NFL nose tackle. With a wide body and strong legs, he’s almost impossible to push around, while also quick enough to swim around blockers if they get overzealous and push too hard off the line. Had his college career gone better, Grissom would have been a mid-round pick, but despite going undrafted he has the athleticism to be a consistent contributor in the NFL for a lot of years, and he’ll get his first shot with the New England Patriots, who could definitely use a young nose tackle like Grissom.
Lerentee McCray – The Denver Broncos were ecstatic that McCray was still available after the draft, as they gave him a rather large signing bonus for an undrafted player. McCray is a possible solution in Denver for the loss of Elvis Dumervil. With the ability to rush the passer as either a down lineman or a linebacker, McCray is a great addition to Denver’s vaunted pass rush. With Von Miller getting a lot of attention, McCray is in the perfect situation to make an impact for the Broncos this year and establish himself in the NFL. He missed a lot of time in college due to injury, but if he’s healthy, he has the athleticism to stand out in the NFL and cause a lot of quarterbacks a lot of distress.