In 1990, two players began their rookie seasons in the National Football League.
Emmitt Smith was selected 17th overall selection out of Florida. He eventually became the league’s all-time leading rusher (18,355), three-time Super Bowl winner, league MVP and Pro Football Hall of Famer..
Another young man entered the league that same year undrafted.
After 331 selections in the 12 rounds of that draft, John Randle from tiny Texas A&I found himself searching for a team to give him a shot.
Not much was probably expected of Randle when he arrived in Minnesota to play for the Vikings. Seven Pro Bowls later and a member of the 1990s All Decade Team and NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time team, left Randle among the immortals of the game.
Coincidentally, both were enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Long after the glitz and glamour of the first round concludes, and the final rounds are conducted, there remains value and talent in the existing pool of undrafted players.
Besides family and friends and a tiny collection of oddballs like myself, no one cares too much about those left behind once the NFL Draft closes its doors.
This year, like so many, provides a plethora of prospects to feel excited about and their chances of making it in the National Football League.
The All-Undrafted Team has three things in common.
One is a ton of talent. Two, they went undrafted and third I feel this group of individuals could make it. They possess the perseverance and talent to succeed despite the setback of not being selected in the draft.
Below is a team of undrafted college free agents I feel comfortable in proclaiming should make a 53-man roster or at the very least earn time on the practice squad.
While I tried my best to provide 11 starters on both the offensive and defensive side of the football, I got a stonewalled at running back. I listed two running backs because I simply couldn’t decide between the two.
Defensively, a 4-4 front with three defensive backs was the lineup that suited my needs best. It's an odd format, but with so many hybrid safety/linebackers among the All-Undrafted Team, it felt appropriate enough to go with.
Philadelphia Eagles | Carson Strong, Nevada – A Reese’s Senior Bowl invite and considered one of the upper echelon prospects at the position. Strong (6-3, 226) passed for 4,175 yards, 36 touchdowns and only eight interceptions last season. Ironically, Strong is the exact opposite of starter Jalen Hurts in terms of mobility. Hurts led the Eagles in rushing (784) last season and Strong is like a cement block in the pocket. Nonetheless, he looks comfortable in that confined space with accurate throws.
Running Back (TIE)
Philadelphia Eagles | Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma – Brooks had an amazing 7.0 yards per carry in each of the three seasons he eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing for the Sooners. Exceptional patience and vision. Miles Sanders failed to reach the end zone last year and is headed toward free agency in 2023. Brooks has a real chance to carve out a role in the Eagles backfield. Brooks has not fumbled since 2019. With zero fumbles over his last 352 attempts (second best in college football), Brooks has ball security nailed down.
New York Giants | Jashaun Corbin, Florida State – The last time Corbin had pads on he was carrying defenders into the end zone at the East West Shrine Bowl. Began his career at Texas A&M prior to arrival with Seminoles, he is diverse in both the running and passing game. Had ACC’s two longest rushing touchdowns of the season with an 89-yard run against Notre Dame and a 75-yard run to paydirt against Louisville. Versatility reigns supreme in his game.
Detroit Lions | Corey Sutton, Appalachian State – Invited to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Sutton possesses natural born instincts to make acrobatic amazing catches routine. Feel he has been slighted this entire draft process. He’ll get to make his presence known in the Motor City. Sutton (6-3, 205) reportedly ran a 4.57 40-yard dash that affected his value, but watch the tape and witness his big-play potential.
Detroit Lions | Josh Johnson, Tulsa – His ankle was not 100% during a Pro Day workout and despite the injury he still ran the full route tree and the 40. Invited to the NFL Combine, he was projected to be a Day-3 draft pick, but that didn't come to fruition. Along with Sutton, the Lions have two incredible undrafted prospects currently signed.
Philadelphia Eagles | Britain Covey, Utah – Think Hunter Renfrow 2.0 when eyeing up Covey. A tad smaller but much more explosive. He possesses that quick-twitch ability and serves as an ideal return specialist. Check out his 97-yard touchdown return against Ohio State in this year’s Rose Bowl.
New Orleans Saints | Lucas Krull, Pittsburgh – The Panthers opted to avoid the tight end the past couple seasons, but that changed in 2021 with the connection between Krull and quarterback Kenny Pickett. Krull became a luxury place to dump off the ball when things got hectic in the pocket for Pickett. He gives good in effort in the run game, will pursue blocks up field and possesses more than ample ability in the passing game.
Washington Commanders | Tyrese Robinson, Oklahoma – Key component to Lincoln Riley’s Air Raid offense at Oklahoma, Robinson improved over the course of his career and is more than capable of being a solid contributor at guard with the ability to play tackle.
Indianapolis Colts | Alex Mollette, Marshall – A fun-loving character who is super serious about getting the job done on the field. Mollette graded out with the third-highest pass-blocking grade according to Pro Football Focus. He also did not allow a single sack on 492 pass-blocking snaps. The Colts landed a quality player with Mollette.
New York Giants | Ben Adler, Kansas State – Adler was a monster-sized tight end/running back combo in high school. With 21 starts over the last two seasons, he helped anchor the Wildcats offensive line and brought a nasty disposition to the unit. Love his style of play. The 6-foot-4 and 327-pound guard should make his pro debut by probably knocking some veteran on their keister.
Pittsburgh Steelers | Chris Owens, Alabama – Hurricane Katrina forced him and his family to leave New Orleans and move to Texas. He began playing football to make friends and now he’ll aim to use the game to make a living in the National Football League. Well-versed to play anywhere along the line, but center appears to be his best path to a career in the NFL.
Dallas Cowboys | Alec Lindstrom, Boston College – It’s a bit shocking to see Lindstrom on the undrafted list, but the powers that be (NFL personnel) did not view him worthy of one of the 262 picks during the draft. Lindstrom must make his path towards the next level the hard way and fight tooth and nail to get his shot. His brother Chris Lindstrom was a first-round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2019 NFL Draft, so that NFL pedigree should count for something.
Carolina Panthers | Aaron Mosby, Edge, Fresno State – This young man is simply a playmaker. He morphed from safety to linebacker and eventually to edge rusher during his time at Fresno State. The Panthers recognize that his safety swagger and speed have remained intact coming off the edge. Led the FBS with six forced fumbles and led Fresno State with 15.5 tackles for loss and 12 career takeaways. I’d be shocked if he is not part of the 53-man roster when final cuts are made.
Cincinnati Bengals | Tariqious Tisdale, DL, Ole Miss – Invited to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Tisdale is a prospect with untapped potential. In high school he played running back at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds. With an additional 40 pounds of muscle, he now chases down quarterbacks. That athleticism resonates in his game, and you can see flashes of his ability to bend and power to be disruptive behind the line of scrimmage.
Washington Commanders | Jacub Panasiuk, DL, Michigan State – Brother Mike played for the Spartans and spent time in camp with the Carolina Panthers. Despite his Big-10 background, I feel that Jacub remains a very under-the-radar prospect. Nose for the ball and gritty style of play resonates in his game. Starting 43 of his 57 game, he recorded 15 sacks, 30 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. It’s the dirty work and tenacity that Panasiuk possesses that will endear him to the Commanders' coaching staff. A old-timer like head coach Ron Rivera should love seeing Panasiuk in a Commanders uniform.
Indianapolis Colts | Cullen Wick, DE, Tulsa – Wick grew up in a tiny farming town in Hallettsville, Tex. He was in a graduating class of only 26 classmates, which left him very little recruiting options. His goal at the time was to get his college paid for via playing football. Blinn Junior College was his first destination prior to finishing out his career at Tulsa as a three-year letter winner. He is a consistent player who seldom is out of position. General manager Chris Ballard has shown he likes solid character guys who love the game of football. Hence, the addition of Wick to the roster.
New York Jets | Minicamp Invite | Elijah Reed, South Dakota – The Jets did their homework on Reed, who during his time with the Coyotes was the "Swiss Army Knife" of the defense. Equipped with experience at defensive back, safety and outside linebacker, Reed possesses a bounty of possibilities to make an NFL roster at multiple positions. Reed’s frame (6-1, 213) projects to the hybrid-style 'backer that has found a significant place in today’s fast-paced NFL.
Carolina Panthers | Khalan Tolson, Illinois – When Tolson was 7-years-old, he was playing running back. One of his coaches mentioned the idea of him trying out at linebacker and was he hooked. “I loved hitting people,” says Tolson, who will look to continue his hard-hitting style at the next level. One NFL personnel member raved about his performance at the College Gridiron Showcase. He put together an exceptional Pro Day with a 4.45 time in the 40-yard dash along with 24 reps of 225 on the bench press at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds.
Chicago Bears | Christian Albright, Ball State – Albright is another player with hybrid intangibles that translate to multiple positions defensively. During his freshman year at Ball State he was at defensive end and then was moved to outside linebacker. He was asked by NFL teams to play middle linebacker at the Tropical Bowl in January. Range and sideline-to-sideline speed are key traits that helped get him this far.
Jacksonville Jaguars | Grant Morgan, Arkansas – Where do we begin? A walk-on at Arkansas who earned multiple All-America and All-SEC honors and served as team captain in 2020-21. Morgan is your typical gritty no-nonsense linebacker who should thrive under the pressure of making the 53-man roster due to his background in producing as a walk-on to become a key component on the Razorbacks defense.
New York Jets | Ja’Quan McMillian, East Carolina – Another Combine snub in my opinion, McMillian is a fast-thinking defender with an incredible knack for being around the football. With 28 pass breakups and 12 career interceptions, he was regarded as the No. 1 FBS defensive back in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. McMillian has been invited to the Jets rookie minicamp, which will be a perfect opportunity to showcase himself to further his audition to the 53-man roster later this year.
Miami Dolphins | Elijah Hamilton, Louisiana Tech – Who doesn’t love a 6-foot-2 and 210-pound defensive back? Hamilton put on a phenomenal Pro Day performance. His numbers compared to NFL Scouting Combine invites and placed him near the top at defensive back. His 4.4 time in the 40 was in the top 15. Nineteen on the bench press places him first. His 10-9 broad jump slides him into second and his 38.5 vertical jump would have been fourth overall.
Miami Dolphins | Verone McKinley III, S, Oregon – The Dolphins get lucky with two undrafted players with real ability to make the final cut or worst-case scenario the practice roster. McKinley is a savvy secondary player who thrives on tracking the ball and understanding route concepts and where teams are going to attack. Certainly, one of the top projected prospects that missed out on hearing their names called during the draft.