I always like to bring attention to a few lesser-known players that I think people should know. Given the chance, here are a few players who I believe have a shot at becoming UDFA players that got overlooked in the draft and somehow wind up succeeding in the NFL. Rated from most likely to least likely.
1) Elvis Akpla, Montana State, 6-0 184 4.47
Akpla, a transfer from Oregon, looks like he has LOADS of potential to work with, and really dominated his competition at the FCS level this past year with 63 catches for 1145 yards and 11 TDs (Doing the match, that's a whopping 18.2 YPR). Not only does he have a mega-sticky pair of hands and boy did he show them off with his Sportscenter highlight catch in the FCS Championship playoff against Sam Houston State, he looks like an adept route-runner as well and when any corner plays off-man, he blows by them down the field for big plays. If you want to know how he does against top competition, well.. although his team lost to Montana this year, he roasted 2nd-3rd round prospect 6-2 200 pound Trumaine Johnson for 113 yards and a touchdown. Akpla looks like a tremendous fit for a WCO or other short, quick-hitting passing attack. You can view clips of Akpla for 2011 below:
2) Jermaine Saffold, Missouri State, 6-0 192 4.47
Saffold is another guy like Akpla who I see a ton of upside in, and like Akpla, he has improved every year with the team. This year being his best yet with 45 catches for 913 yards (for 20.3 YPR, an even bigger YPC than Akpla) and 8 touchdowns. Saffold has experience returning kicks so that is always a plus as well. Saffold gets his hands up and attacks the ball just like a receiver should, and on top of that, he will work his way back to the ball and move forward to prevent defenders from stepping in front of passes his way. As you may have seen in the Akpla video, Safford rarely gets tackled from behind. Sure it may have a little bit to do with playing at FCS level competition, but the kid can fly and you can see that speed in the clip below. I like Saffold's chances of competing for a spot on some team this coming NFL season and I feel that he, too, is a good candidate to be the next UDFA who could have success if he gets a shot.
3) Josh Cooper, Oklahoma State, 5-11 195 4.49
With Justin Blackmon and Dez Bryant stealing the show, Cooper was an afterthought to most people. However, quietly he was a contributor for his team and put up around 70 catches and 700+ yards in back to back years for the team. All the talent surrounding him would suggest that he only made plays because of the big guys taking pressure off of him, but Cooper has a good set of hands on him and is one tough customer. He's not afraid to go over the middle and will lower his head and power through defenders after the catch. Cooper looks like a bigger version of Danny Amendola in a way. Amendola was a guy who put up 1000+ yards but went undrafted due to all the focus on Michael Crabtree's unbelievable record-breaking seasons.
[ Edited by OnTheClock on Feb 12, 2012 at 11:25 AM ]