The undrafted free agent doesn’t get much attention from anyone but his mama. While he watches the NFL Draft come and go, and hopes that he’ll sign a contract afterward, the first-rounders are giving interviews and lining up endorsements. Heck, we expect them to blow us away once they hit the field.
But even with all the one-handed touchdown catches and goal-line stands that make us leap to our feet, there’s nothing like an undrafted free agent who surprises everyone with above-his-pay-grade play. Do the Cincinnati Bengals have someone like that in the works? A rookie whose name wasn’t called on draft day, but should be hearing it often in the next few years?
Don’t be surprised if it’s one of these guys.
3 Undrafted Free Agents to Keep an Eye On
1. Brandon Bell (LB – Penn State): Linebacker was definitely a need for Cincinnati. The team inked a capable prospect with Bell, who was all over the field for Penn State last season. He finished with 89 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions. NFL scouts say he’s a student of the game with good straight-line speed (4.7 in the 40). They also mentioned kick coverage as a launching pad for bigger roles. We agree.
2. Hardy Nickerson Jr (LB – Illinois): Anyone who was a fan of football in the 90s remembers five-time Pro-Bowl LB Hardy Nickerson. That includes Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who coached Nickerson Sr during his final year with Pittsburgh in 1992. Nick Jr certainly has the brand name to be a baller. He gives great effort and has made more than 100 tackles during each of the last two seasons. But there’s lots to work on. To make the team, he needs to react quicker, improve his play strength and pursuit angles, and not run himself out of position.
3. Karel Hamilton (WR – Samford): The biggest knock on Hamilton is that he played against FCS competition. When facing said opponents, he was sensational (111 catches – 1,389 yards – 14 TDs). He stands 6’1″ and can run the 40 in 4.6 seconds, so he’s no pushover. Hamilton also plays at a spot that ranked 18th in the NFL last year in completions. He’s probably the undrafted free agent we’re most excited about on this list. Between Hamilton’s potential, John Ross’ speed and AJ Green’s AJ-ness, the passing game’s future looks bright.