2007 NFL All-Undrafted Team: Defense
Posted by Mike on May 3, 2007
This is Part 2 of Digital Headbutt’s 2007 NFL All-Undrafted Team. In Part 1 the Offense was put together, and now it’s the defense’s turn.
We often forget the players who go undrafted, Hell, we forget most of the players who get drafted after the 1st round. But just because a player was passed on 255 times doesn’t mean he is not worthy of being in the NFL.
Many offensive players have gone undrafted and become stars. In addition to the players I mentioned in Part 1, Antonio Gates went undrafted, and is now a Pro Bowl tight end. Rod Smith went undrafted and has become one of the most consistent performers ever at the WR position. Defenders may be even more difficult to predict, as not as many statistics are compiled on defensive players. Still, there are a lot of undrafted defenders who could find themselves on an NFL roster or even eventually become a key player for their team. Somewhere out there, an NFL coach or GM might have developed such an ego that he thinks to himself “You know what? I’m so good at this, I’ll bet I can take an entire team of undrafted players and make a winning team!” I’m looking at you, Bill.
So if the coach were to pick 11 undrafted players for his starting lineup (based on a 4-3 scheme), who would he select? I seek to find the answer. This is the 2007 NFL Defensive All-Undrafted Team:
Defensive Ends- Mkristo Bruce, Washington State and Justin Hickman, UCLA.
- Why they weren’t drafted: Neither of these guys is a prototype NFL defensive end. Hickman in particular is small for the position, and the fact that he spent his first two years in community college raises questions about his past, which may have scared suitors in the Roger Goodell era. Bruce posted a bad 40 time (5.03), and most of his stats apparently came against inferior competition.
- Why they could play in the NFL: Both of these players were members of the 2006 All-Pac-10 defensive team, combining for 162 tackles, 47 tackles for loss, and 30.5 sacks in their senior campaigns. A lot of NFL teams could use that kind of help. In a draft without combines, they both may have gone of the board on day 1. Bruce could still be able to gain 20-30 pounds and be able to stand up to most any NFL offensive tackle.
- Other worthy candidates: Victor Degrate, Oklahoma State; Bryan Andrews, Wake Forest.
Ray McDonald, Florida David Patterson, Ohio State and Joe Anoai, Georgia Tech.
- Why they weren’t drafted: It was really difficult to guage a defensive tackle with statistics, because they have the fewest of any defensive players. Both of these players had to battle injuries while in college, and
McDonald was considered too small for a tackle. It also didn’t help that teammates Marcus Thomas, Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey stole the spotlight on the Gators D-line.
- Why they could play in the NFL: Anoai has been excellent in penetrating opposing offensive lines, as nearly 25% of his tackles in 2006 were for loss. For his efforts Anoai made 1st team All ACC honors.
McDonald is unusually agile for his position, and could play either tackle or end in the NFL. If he were to put on 20-30 pounds without losing speed, he can become a big mismatch. Patterson, along with Quinn Pitcock, helped anchor an otherwise very inexperienced Ohio State defense; they ultimately ranked higher in in total defense overall versus 2005, despite the fact that Patterson and Pitcock were the only returning starters.
- Other worthy candidates: David Patterson, Ohio State; Ramel Meekins, Rutgers.
UPDATE: McDonald DID get drafted-on the first day, no less! So I put Patterson on the D-line instead. He’s still a great player on this team.
Rufus Alexander (OLB), Oklahoma Desmond Sims (OLB), Arkansas, Quinton Culberson (MLB), Mississippi State and Tony Taylor (OLB), Georgia.
- Why they weren’t drafted: All of these players were passed on for different reasons.
AlexanderSims is smaller than most linebackers (6′ 228 pounds) andis not great in coverage. Taylor has had to face serious injuries throughout his college career. Culberson played for an SEC doormat, has been in trouble with the law as a teenager, and was overshadowed in his own state by one of the top linebackers in the nation, Patrick Willis.
- Why they could play in the NFL: They have all been top performers in college against top competition.
Alexander led the Sooners with 118 tackles en route to becoming the 2006 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.Sims is a freak athlete; he weighs 288 pounds but runs a 4.62 40. He can play linebacker or defensive end. Culberson was 1st team All SEC at linebacker with 102 tackles and 9 tackles for loss. Taylor, a second team All SEC winner, may have had the most impressive senior season of all, with 96 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2 fumble recoveries, 7 interceptions (5th in the NCAA at any position), and two defensive touchdowns. All could fare well in a Cover 2 scheme.
- Other worthy candidates: Jon Abbate, Wake Forest; Marcus Bacon, Missouri.
UPDATE: I knew I shouldn’t have rushed with compiling the defense. Rufus Alexander was also taken, so Desmond Sims takes his place. Deadspin is like HDTV: all of your flaws are exposed.
Cornerbacks- Kenny Scott, Georgia Tech and Anthony Arline, Baylor.
- Why they weren’t drafted: The case of Kenny Scott hits home for me. I was convinced that he was the caliber of an athlete that would get drafted on the first day. However, scouts were scared off because his play was inconsistent, he was thin for his height at the position (6’1″, 179), and he was declared academically ineligible for the 2007 Gator Bowl, which I did not know before the draft. As if playing at the perennial cupcake that is Baylor didn’t make Arline obscure enough, he had to stand in the shadow of his teammate, C.J. Wilson.
- Why they could play in the NFL: Most of the top receivers in the NFL have an unbelievable combination of size and speed, so having one, let alone two, tall and fast corners is going to be a huge asset. Scott and Arline are 6’1″ and 6’2″ and run a 4.39 and 4.43 40 time, respectively. In addition to his stats (50 tackles in 2006) and ACC play, he has shown his abililty to come through on important plays as evidence by the video below. But beyond everything else, remember this: Kenny Scott has had to spend every day in practice for the last three years defending Calvin Johnson. He is ready to take NFL receivers’ best shots right now.
- Other worthy candidates: DeAndre Jackson, Iowa State; Travarous Bain, Hampton.
Eric Wicks, West Virginia Jesse Daniels, LSU and Melvin Bullitt, Texas A&M.
- Why they weren’t drafted: With the proliferation of the Cover 2 and offenses continuing to spread the field, having a good safety in the NFL is more important now than ever. This was reflected in the teams’ draft strategies, as nearly as many safeties (8) were drafted as cornerbacks (9) or linebackers (11). Yet neither of these two players were drafted. Bullitt (who has a great name for a safety) was a solid starter but did not have good hands, intercepting only 4 passes in his career. Scouts also thought he wasn’t aggressive enough. Daniels, despite his solid career, was playing sidekick to fellow Tiger safety and first round pick Laron Landry. Scouts believe he was too short (5’10”) and too injured to be a defensive back in the NFL.
- Why they could play in the NFL: Both of these players had stellar senior season, winning all-conference awards for their efforts. Daniels had 47 tackles and was helped the Tigers a lot in run support. Bullitt ran a 4.49 40, so he has the speed to keep deep pass plays in front of him. A typical NFL scheme would put Bullit at free safety and Daniels at strong safety.
- Other worthy candidates: Tra Battle, Georgia; C.J. Wallace, Washington.
UPDATE: The eligibility of Eric Wicks on this list has been very, very confusing. This source listed him as a senior in 2006, and this source listed him as draft eligible for 2007, which led me to placing Wicks on this list. Wikipedia says Wicks is returning in 2007, yet lists him as a sophomore in 2004 and a junior in 2005. Only at the Mountaineers website is he clearly listed as a eligible for the 2007 season. Even if he was eligible for the draft, there are enough doubts to take him off this list.
BONUS! Punter- Sean Douglas, Washington.
- Why he didn’t get drafted: It’s a miracle to be drafted as a punter to begin with, but Douglas was not always consistent.
- Why he could play in the NFL: He has a cannon for a leg, and when consistent he is very accurate. He also has had to punt for four Seattle autumns, so he should be able to adapt to bad conditions.
- Other worthy candidates: Kody Bliss, Auburn.
So there you have it: the 2007 NFL All-Undrafted team. Think that any of these players are undeserving of this list or know any blatant snubs? Let me know in the comments. Next, I’ll introduce you a place where all of these players can play, even if they don’t make the NFL-and it isn’t the CFL or “NFL Deustchland.”