Each year, there are players who somehow slip through the NFL's cracks and don't become one of over 250 draft picks. Talented players who can make an impact throughout the league but who, for some reason, had to have been acquired in undrafted free agency as opposed to being drafted.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are one team that has benefitted greatly from undrafted free agents in the past. James Robinson, one of the best players on the roster, was an undrafted free agent addition in 2020. Other undrafted free agent signings in the past include Jarrod Wilson, Tre Herndon, Allen Hurns and Corey Grant, while big-money free agents like A.J. Bouye and Andrew Norwell came into the NFL as undrafted free agents.
But what about this year's group of players? With 16 undrafted free agents on the 90-man roster, which make the most sense as potential members of the 53-man roster? From offense to defense to special teams, we take a look below at five who have a shot based on the numbers and the depth in front of them.
WR Kevin Austin
A big wide receiver, Kevin Austin presents all of the physical traits you want in a X receiver. The Notre Dame product is over 6-foot-2 (75th percentile among receivers), 200 pounds (46th percentile) with 32⅞-inch arms (74th percentile) and 79¼-inch wingspan (84th percentile). Add in his 4.43 speed, 6.71 three-cone drill, 39-inch vertical and 132-inch broad jump and Austin checks every box from a traits perspective.
What is working in Austin's favor is the Jaguars aren't exactly deep at X receiver. Aside from the starting three receivers, Laviska Shenault, and Jamal Agnew as a returner, the competition for a spot at receiver would only really come down to Laquon Treadwell and any challengers like Austin. If Austin can make big plays in training camp, he deserves legit consideration along with Treadwell.
K Andrew Mevis
The Jaguars made a relatively surprising move last week when they waived veteran kicker Matthew Wright. Between Wright, offseason signing Ryan Santoso and undrafted free agent kicker Andrew Mevis, the Jaguars had three kickers when ideally they wanted two entering the next phase of the offseason. Wright drew the short stick, though, leaving Mevis and Santoso as the Jaguars' two options entering training camp.
Santoso has appeared in seven games throughout his career with the Titans, Panthers and Lions. During that time, Santoso has made 4-of-5 field goals and 6-of-8 extra point attempts. Meanwhile, Mevis was 32-of-32 on extra-point attempts for Iowa State last year and made 20-of-23 field goals. While Santoso has more experience, he has only really kicked in a few games and doesn't have a clear talent advantage over Mevis. Based off numbers alone, Mevis may be the undrafted free agent with the best odds to make the roster.
DB Josh Thompson
A player who other teams had draftable grades on, Texas defensive back Josh Thompson was one of Jacksonville's top undrafted free agent signings. The Jaguars have prioritized defensive backs in undrafted free agency in the past and Thompson has the same expertise all of those before him have had: special teams.
Thompson (5-foot-11, 194 pounds) ran a 4.40 40-yard dash this year at the NFL Scouting Combine. He then recorded a 37.5-inch vertical jump at his pro day, along with a 127-inch broad jump, a 4.13 short-shuttle, and a 6.84 three-cone time, along with 18 reps on the bench press. He has elite traits for special teams and can really serve in any role in that regard, while also flashing at defensive back during rookie minicamp thanks to a handful of pass breakups.
WR Lujuan Winningham
While Lujuan Winningham will have the same challenge making the roster that Kevin Austin will have, he at least appears to have the skills and traits to make a case for himself. Austin made several tough grasp throughout the weekend of rookie minicamp practices, but Winningham was arguably the more consistent receiver.
Ultimately, Winningham offers a nice blend of size and speed to go along with safe hands. He truly impressed throughout practice last weekend, in large part because he never let the ball hit the ground and he showed a keen understanding of route-running. He has an uphill climb, but his talent indicates he has a chance.
TE Grayson Gunter
If there was a non-tryout tight end who stood out at rookie minicamp, it was Southern Mississippi tight end Grayson Gunter. He is more of a true 'Y' tight end than an 'F' tight end like Naz Bohannon or Gerrit Prince, but his pure size and natural ball skills made him a tough player to ignore at rookie minicamp.
The Jaguars have two solid pass-catching tight ends in Evan Engram and Dan Arnold. Whether they want to answer the season with Chris Manhertz or Luke Farrell in the position'sother spots remains to be seen, however, giving a player like Gunter a chance.