Team of Preseason Week 1: The Undrafted
The Team of the Week with a twist -- no drafted players allowed. Khaled Elsayed kicks off the 2013 TOTW series with an pertinent preseason special.
Team of Preseason Week 1: The Undrafted
Well it’s preseason so we’re going to do something a little different this week and look solely at those guys who were undrafted out of college and entered the NFL this year. So nobody from 2012 and before, and not a single drafted player will make this team.
Let’s see how it shakes out.
Quarterback: Jeff Tuel, Bills (+6.4)
Incredibly, the next-highest-graded performance from a quarterback was a +3.5 (attained by three players). Tuel had an advantage in that he had 55 snaps to get it, while only five quarterbacks had more drop-backs from center. Still he went 19-of-23 (with a batted pass and two drops) in a ruthlessly efficient display of quick-strike quarterbacking.
Running Back: Cierre Wood, Texans (+1.3)
There weren’t too many stand outs with significant carries hard to come by, but Wood caught the eye with his 5.9 yards per carry average. He was one of only two players to have more than one run over 15 yards.
Tight End: Jack Doyle, Titans (+0.3)
There wasn’t a lot to get excited about at either fullback or tight end but we had to find one. In 25 snaps Doyle was extremely… competent. That was enough to get the nod.
Wide Receivers: Jaron Brown, Cardinals (+2.4) and Charles Hawkins, Cardinals (+1.1)
Brown was an easy choice. After catching 5-of-7 targets for 46 yards and a touchdown he’s put himself in position to make the final roster. It was a little harder finding a compliment with few options standing out. In the end, Hawkins joins his teammate after hauling in all four balls thrown his way for 92 yards. But for a fumble it would have been an easy decision.
Slot Receiver: Chad Bumphis, Dolphins (+1.8)
This is more for his Hall of Fame performance than what he showed against the Jags where he found his slot snaps greatly reduced. Still the 2.92 yards per snap Bumphis is averaging in the slot stands out.
Tackles: Alvin Bailey, Seahawks (+3.3) and Brice Schwab, Patriots (+2.0)
Bailey got a lot of action (45 snaps) and the tackle out of Arkansas put forth a display that will have some wondering why he wasn’t drafted. Perfect in pass protection he also made his presence felt in the run game and that’s no mean feat. On the other side, Schwab was quietly impressive blocking for Tim Tebow. There weren’t an awful lot of pass protection snaps for him to shine, but he shutout the opposition nonetheless.
Guards: Tim Lelito, Saints (+1.7) and Lane Taylor, Packers (+2.6)
Outside of a poor attempt at blocking the screen game, Lelito made a convincing case to be the primary backup at guard when coming in as part of the Saints’ second-string offensive line. On the right side, Taylor earned the highest grade of all guards this week for his efforts against Arizona.
Center: Adam Bice, Cardinals (+1.5)
You know it’s a new age in Arizona when they have offensive linemen making the teams of the week. Bice picked up the third-highest grade of all centers thanks in large part to some strong run blocking on his 23 snaps.
(To get guys into the team, we’re pushing 3-4 outside linebackers and 4-3 defensive ends into an edge rushers category, and 3-4 ends and defensive tackles in the defensive interior category.)
Edge Rushers: Willie Jefferson, Texans (+1.4) and Ryan Robinson, Raiders (+1.1)
Both men got 25 snaps to show their worth and left you wanting to see more. Robinson only had 17 pass rush snaps but managed to pick up a hit and two hurries with them and a defensive stop in the run game. Over in Minnesota, the Texans’ Jefferson converted his 14 pass rushes into two hurries with some useful work in the run game.
Defensive Interior: Joe Vellano, Patriots (+3.4), Terrence Stephens, Bengals (+0.4) and Brian Arnfelt, Steelers (+2.2)
We’ve seen undrafted rookies latch on to the Patriots’ defensive line before. Could Vellano be the next? He picked up the highest grade of any defensive tackle in his 33 snaps, with his work against the run standing out (though he did add a sack and hit rushing the passer). The Steelers’ Arnfelt didn’t do much rushing the passer but much like Vellano excelled when teams ran at him. In the middle we’re putting the big Bengal Stephens who caused some problems for Atlanta on his 39 snaps.
Inside Linebackers: Paul Worrilow, Falcons (+2.8) and LaRoy Reynolds, Jaguars (+1.4)
The Falcons’ Worrilow had himself a game to remember in his bid to make the regular season roster. His six tackles were four more than any other player on the team and he showed well in coverage to deflect a ball. Reynolds partners on the back of some strong work in the run game that saw him pick up two defensive stops.
Cornerbacks: Greg Castillo, Chiefs (+2.5) and Jumal Rolle, Bills (+2.9)
Rolle would only get flagged for a defensive hold, while making a nice break on the ball for a pick six and defensing another. Meanwhile, Kansas City’s Castillo came on late and made a case for increased playing time going forward. He broke up a pass and gave up just one reception for 4 yards.
Safeties: Bradley McDougald, Chiefs (+1.9) and Jordan Kovacs, Dolphins (+0.7)
A quiet week for the undrafted safeties, though McDougald made a play to stick in the memories as he matched up to Jimmy Graham and broke up a pass. It was hard finding a partner for him but in the end Kovacs got the nod for two solid performances.
Kicker, Havard Rugland, DET: Kickalicious indeed. Two big kicks mean the nickname lives for another week at least.
Punter: Colton Schmidt, SF: He’ll do well to make Andy Lee expendable but he may have put himself in the shop window elsewhere.
Returner: Nickell Robey, BUF: His 35 yards on three punt returns earned him a +1.2 return grade.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled