As soon as the NFL draft ended, I mentioned to watch out for those UFA signings, and in the next article I talked about some of those guys. I wondered who would sign Vontaze Burfict despite all his issues and then hoped injured CB Chase Minnefield would find a team.
Well, both have happened…and more.
Vontaze Burfict signed with historically a VERY appropriate team for troubled NFL athletes. If I told you it wasn’t the Raiders, who would you guess?
Yep, you’re right. The Cincinnati Bengals signed Vontaze. I should have thrown that possibility out there when I was wondering about it because it fits so well. Didn’t really need a crystal ball for that one.
Chase Minnefield signed with Washington. Not much of a surprise there, either, as the Redskin organization is leaving no stone unturned in the quest to upgrade their roster. Good for Chase, I’m glad he has a chance to heal and to prove he can get it done on the field. He’s a guy I’m rootin’ for – except when Carolina plays them. He has the added bonus of having the awesome name for a corner – Chase.
The RB that fell the most would be Chris Polk from Washington…the school, that is. In fact, he was part of Tyrone Willingham’s first class there. Boy, time flies. Polk was signed by the Eagles to backup LeSean McCoy and is a tough inside runner that falls forward. His case was akin to Miami (college AND now pro both) RB Lamar Miller, but times 3. Polk has had 2 shoulder surgeries plus a scoped knee, so teams have legitimate durability concerns about him. At least the Eagles signed him so he can start all over again and hopefully prove his mettle.
Other notable signings:
The Carolina Panthers signed Tennessee RB Tauren Poole to try to make the roster as a third-string runner and possibly contribute on special teams but not as a return man. I checked his combine results and it looks like he’s a strong kid overall but with average acceleration and agility…the cone drill and shuttle times weren’t horrible but they weren’t great either. He’s being looked at for depth or if he really impresses, there’s been rumors of trading Jonathan Stewart over the past two months.
Those rumors died down as the draft approached, and I love J-Stew’s punishing style that contrasts with DeAngelo Williams’ shake-you-out-of-your-cleats elusive style. The two mesh quite well in a game.
The Panthers unsurprisingly added an OT UFA to their roster with BYU’s Matt Reynolds. With Jeff Otah’s perennial injuries, he’s become an unreliable player and I don’t see the Panther’s re-signing him unless as a backup at a greatly reduced rate. They’ll have to get ready for life after him and prepare starting now.
Reynolds benched an unimpressive 25 reps at the Combine and ran a 5.37-40. Tackles don’t need to be fast, but they do need that “phone-booth” speed. The scouting report says he’s got good lateral agility which is good enough for a tackle. He’s an average-to-above run blocker but struggles defending some of the pass-rush moves many NFL defenders will use. He’s got a lot of minor issues that are all correctable with good coaching and is a raw talent that has a chance to make the roster.
Division-rival Tampa Bay isn’t sitting on their laurels even after their big free agency splash and top-5 NFL Draft. They signed Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson for depth. Although he’s only 5’10″ and runs a very slow-for-position 4.7-40, remember the scheme. “Tampa-2.” That’s 2 deep safeties over the top, lots of zone coverage underneath. His strengths will masks his lack of footspeed in such a scheme and he’s a tough, instinctive guy who could create some problems most likely in nickel and dime defenses as a rookie. He was picked up as much for his kick returning ability as much as anything else, so he’s got a very good chance to make their roster.
Boise State QB Kellen Moore was signed by the Detroit Lions to backup Matthew Stafford. It’s a perfect situation for the winningest college QB in history. Most would be happy to start 50 games in their career. Moore has 50 _victories_ in his college career. He may have no elite physical traits, but winning is an elite intangible by itself in my book. It helps keep a positive mindset and really helps your confidence, both of which are core qualities in any successful NFL QB. Moore has the history of winning, so he comes into the league without any pressure to step in and be productive as long as Stafford holds up like he did last season. I don’t think he’ll ever be a regular NFL starter, but is a guy who can come in and make accurate throws and not lose a game for you. That’s really all you can ask of a backup QB, and he should make the roster and deliver that.
Like I said last week, the end of the draft isn’t the end of the process…it’s only the end of the beginning of it.
Topics: 2012 NFL Undrafted Free Agent Signings, Carolina Panthers News, Chase Minnefield, Chris Polk, DeAngelo Williams, Kellen Moore, Lamar Miller, Leonard Johnson, Matt Reynolds, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tauren Poole, Tyrone Willingham, Vontaze Burfict