Undrafted but Spirit Unbroken: Miami Dolphins UDFA Signings
Unfortunately not everyone that applies to be in the NFL Draft can crack the 256 available spots. But there’s still hope even after the draft. Teams are allowed to sign undrafted free agents to add depth, create competition at certain positions or make the practice squad. You just never know who will be the next Jim Langer (ex-Dolphin), Tony Romo, Arian Foster, Antonio Gates, or Warren Moon — guys who played their heart out just to make their dream of being in the NFL come true.
Let’s take a quick look at the 14 undrafted free agents the Miami Dolphins signed shortly after the draft:
- Micky Baucus, Offensive Line, Arizona
- Matt Darr, Punter, Tennessee
- Ray Drew, Defensive End, Georgia
- Andrew Franks, Kicker, RPI
- Mike Hull, Linebacker, Penn State
- Christion Jones, Wide Receiver, Alabama
- Nigel King, Wide Receiver, Kansas
- Michael Liedtke, Offensive Line, Illinois State
- Jeff Luc, Linebacker, Cincinnati
- Ellis McCarthy, Defensive Tackle, UCLA
- Kendall Montgomery, Defensive End, Bowling Green
- Dionte Savage, Offensive Line, Oklahoma
- Zach Vigil, Linebacker, Utah State
- Audrey Walker, Offensive Line, USC
Free Agent Info Nugget
Notice how six out of the 14 picks are on the offensive side? Also note that all six guys are in a position the Dolphins addressed in the draft. So what does it mean? This means that the positions of offensive line and wide receiver will be the main competition positions on the offensive side of the ball. With rotating bodies on the right side of the line in 2014 it makes complete sense that these guys were brought in to specifically push the players ahead of them on the depth chart to make them better or prove that they don’t belong in the National Football League. Unless you’re making Ndamukung Suh kind of money, you could be replaced on this Dolphins roster. Best guy gets the job, period! With (receiver name) asking to be dealt the wide receiver group will be competing for that number five spot or special teams returner position.
What Position Battle(s) To Watch?
The Dolphins didn’t seem to pay attention to the linebacker position in the draft mainly because they knew there were a lot of quality guys that would be available after the draft ended. In my opinion this is the easiest position to fill through undrafted guys mainly because of the sheer volume of position players that want to be a linebacker in the NFL.
It’ll be interesting who emerges to take on that fifth and probably final spot in the already deep and talented receiver core the Dolphins acquired this offseason. They might be buried on the depth chart but will definitely get some playing time when Offensive Coordinator, Bill Lazor decided to really spread out the defense.
Diamonds in the Rough
A lot of buzz coming from the rookie minicamp is the battle happening at the linebacker position. Two guys really stand out to me: Mike Hull out of Penn State and Jeff Luc out of Cincinnati. These two defensive studs were in the top 14 in the country in tackles. They find a way to find the ball and make a play for their team when they need it most. Like I mentioned earlier, linebacker went untouched in the draft but the team saw something in these two guys. Essentially low risk high reward when it comes to these two players.
Hull comes from the quintessential linebacker school of Penn State where he finished his collegiate career with over 200 tackles. But what he brings is the cliché “intangibles” knows the angles, where the ball is going to go, and can anchor down a defense when needed. Pairing him up with Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins with the defensive line the Dolphins have assembled can be a nightmare for any opposing quarter back. He may be a little undersized for an inside linebacker but can run sideline to sideline with the best of them. With the quick bubble screens and passes coming out of the backfield in today’s league this isn’t a bad skill to have.
Luc is something I keep hearing a lot of when drills are done. This is a story about a kid coming home where he started out at Florida State but made the move up north to Cincinnati. He is a tough cookie to shed. Luc isn’t afraid to take on the linemen that are making their way up to the second level of defenders. One of his main strengths is his well, strength. Considered to a power-lifting inside linebacker he weighs in at 260 pounds of pure muscle. If you need a quick but big linebacker to blitz the A-gap you call his number and he will blow that play up in a heartbeat. As a Miami native, Luc is beyond blessed, excited, and hungry to get to work for a team he grew up watching and rooting for.
Nicolis’ Player Interest
My player interest is a player that necessarily didn’t get a lot of love through the draft or went relatively unnoticed in the undrafted free agent pool. The one player I am really interested in is Ray Drew, the defensive end out of Georgia. He has the prototypical build of a NFL defensive lineman at 6’ 4” and 265 pounds. He didn’t get the nickname “Pastor of the Pass Rush” for nothing at Georgia racking up 13 tackles for a loss and eight sacks and just creating pure havoc in the backfield. He’s that one player that could play three positions on defense: defensive tackle, defensive end, and outside linebacker. He’s a big body that can move around at a lightning speed and deal out punishment to any ball carrier. With Dion Jordan suspended for the year, and the Dolphins most likely moving on from him I can see Drew filling in quite nicely in that role!
Will these players make their NFL dreams come true with hard work, dedication, and sacrifice to be the best they can be? They will have an uphill climb to have their names printed on the back of the Miami Dolphin’s uniform but it will be fun to watch the process.
Coming up next is how I think the Dolphin’s 2015 schedule looks and my prediction for the season, so don’t forget to check back soon!