Every year, there are always one or two rookie free agents who come out of the blue, make good impressions in training camp and end up nailing down a spot on your favorite team’s roster. Here’s a look at this year’s top rookie free agents and a breakdown of players we think could end up sticking on each NFL team:
Buffalo Bills: LB Antonio Coleman
The Bills need to find new pieces to fit their 3-4 defense, and Coleman is a productive pass rusher who has the frame to play both inside and outside linebacker spots.
Miami Dolphins: DL Travis Ivey
A massive nose tackle prospect with a big, thick frame who just needs a lot of time and development.
New England Patriots: RB Pat Paschall
His slashing running style makes him a good fit running from the gun in the Patriots pass-first offense.
New York Jets: TE Jeff Cumberland
A wide receiver/tight end tweener who has the ability to create mismatches down the field in the pass game.
New York Giants: WR Duke Calhoun
Not only do I think this guy can fill out a spot on the Giants’ wide receiving corps, he can also be a heck of a special teams guy on kick coverage.
Philadelphia Eagles: OL Jeraill McCuller
A thick, well-built lineman — the kind the Eagles like — who showcases pretty good range and coordination off the edge for his size.
Dallas Cowboys: OL Mike Tepper
Tepper has the ability to play both guard and right tackle for the Cowboys and should give them some much needed versatility/depth inside.
Washington Redskins: TE/OL Logan Paulsen
A physical in-line tight end who can carve out a niche in the run game but could ultimately make the move to offensive tackle in time.
Cincinnati Bengals: FS Jeromy Miles
There isn’t a ton of range or playmaking skills at the Bengals safety spots, and Miles is a gifted size/speed athlete with quite a bit of upside to his game.
Cleveland Browns: OLB Auston English
A tough, hard-working kid who has battled his share or injuries over the past couple of years, but if he can prove he’s healthy, the guy has a real shot.
Pittsburgh Steelers: DB Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith
Has the size/physicality to fight for a reserve spot in the secondary and can really help out on the Steelers’ poor coverage units.
Baltimore Ravens: LB Mike McLaughlin
There isn’t anything special about his game, but he’s a tough, blue-collar kid who can add some nasty to the Ravens’ special teams.
Detroit Lions: LB Ryan Stamper
A tough, heady linebacker who looks like a versatile backup type and key special teams guy.
Green Bay Packers: ATH Sam Shields
I don’t know if he’s ever going to have a real position in the NFL, but Shields can really run and should get a chance as a gunner/kick return man for the Packers.
Chicago Bears: WR Freddie Barnes
He isn’t the biggest or fastest of receivers, but he knows how to set up corners, find soft spots in coverage and catch the football. Wouldn’t be shocked at all to see him fill out the Chicago receiving corps.
Minnesota Vikings: OG Thomas Austin
A seasoned interior offensive lineman who could fight his way into a backup role in Minnesota early in his NFL career.
Indianapolis Colts: WR Blair White
White seems like the quintessential Colts wideout: a natural plucker of the football who has a feel for the pass game and is a better athlete than given credit for.
Tennessee Titans: RB LeGarrette Blount
He should have a real chance of becoming the power back on the Titans’ offense.
Jacksonville Jaguars: OLB Aaron Morgan
Morgan is another versatile guy who could play some outside linebacker as well as put his hand on the ground and rush the passer.
Houston Texans: TE/OL Steve Maneri
Can consistently win at the point in the run game and should be able to work his way into a very good short-yardage/goal-line blocker.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OG Sergio Render
Possesses a thickly built frame and exhibits the natural power to win on contact in the run game.
Atlanta Falcons: ILB Bear Woods
A physical downhill backer who exhibits a real nose for the ball inside. Could end up backing up Curtis Lofton in 2010.
Carolina Panthers: FB Rashawn Jackson
A thickly-built athlete who can catch the ball out of the backfield and win as a lead blocker inside.
New Orleans Saints: CB Rafael Priest
One of my favorite senior cornerbacks in the class, but he fell down draft boards because of his inability to work out after a late-season injury.
Oakland Raiders: OL Alex Parsons
The Raiders always seem to be in need of talent and depth along their offensive line.
Denver Broncos: TE Nathan Overbay
A coordinated athlete who knows how to use his big frame to box out defenders and pluck the football. Still needs to learn to get off the line with his hand on the ground but has some upside to his game.
Kansas City Chiefs: LB Justin Cole
Kansas City needs to continue to add talent and athleticism to its linebacker corps, and Cole has the skill set and versatility to play both inside and outside spots.
San Diego Chargers: WR Jeremy Williams
A strong, talented wideout who is physical with the ball in his hands and should be able to fill out the Chargers’ receiving corps.
Arizona Cardinals: CB A.J. Jefferson
Definitely has an NFL-caliber skill set for the position, but he’s immature and has yet to put it all together.
San Francisco 49ers: DB Patrick Stoudamire
A gifted athlete who’s a bit raw at this stage but possesses good range and has a shot to make his mark at both cornerback and free safety for the Niners.
Seattle Seahawks: DL DeMarcus Granger
The talent is definitely there for this guy to make an NFL roster. The question is, does he want to?
St. Louis Rams: LB Simoni Lawrence
A rangy run-and-hit linebacker who could see some time in nickel situations as well as on special teams.
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