Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oakland Raiders Undrafted Free Agents that could stick

Every year several college juniors and seniors leave school with the desire to be drafted and play in the NFL. After promising college careers several play in all-star games and are even invited to the NFL combine and some of these guys still go undrafted. There are no guarantees that if you’re invited to the NFL combine or play at a FBS school you will be drafted.

The Oakland Raiders had several needs going into free agency and the draft that weren’t completely addressed. Contrary to popular belief some of these needs were addressed with the team signing several undrafted players. Some have the belief that when an undrafted free agent is brought in he is just there as training camp competition and have no chance of making the roster.

That belief will be put to the challenge during this training camp. The Raiders success will depend heavily on Offensive Line coach Tom Cable who did a phenomenal job with the offensive line last year. The 2008 season will be the players second year in his effective zone blocking system. The Raiders in need of offensive line help, signed two undrafted guys that could stick.

Guard Brandon Rodd, Arizona State 6’ 4” 303 lbs. 40-time: 5.22
He was the starting Left Tackle for the Sun Devils. Rodd is a solid lineman that is very versatile. He can play either guard or tackle. He’s a very smart player and student. Rodd was given Pac-10 All Academic honors all four years and a two time Second Team Pac-10 All Academic Football player. He was also on the 2007 preseason Lombardi award watch list. He was a productive player that has started in every game in his career. He has a very good understanding of the zone blocking system. He projects as a guard in the NFL due to his lack of explosiveness and not being physically dominating. He is a guy who will fight for a roster spot at four positions. His versatility makes him a great fit for the Oakland Raiders; he was signed to a three year deal.

Defensive End Tranell Morant, Arizona State 6’ 5” 280 lbs.
He was one of the top DE recruits in the nation in 2003 and chose the University of Florida. He transferred to Arizona State University; He has great size, speed and natural ability. He doubled as a Defensive Tackle; he is quick off the ball and has very long arms. He used his height and reach to swat down passes in the rookie mini-camp. His size and versatility to play inside and outside remind some of the impact Tommy Kelly had as an undrafted free agent. He earned a roster spot during mini-camp and is looking forward to Training Camp.

Wide Receiver Marcel Reece, Washington 6’ 4” 231 lbs. 40-time: 4.42
He is a guy who has been compared to Shannon Sharpe due to his ideal role being as an H-back or TE. He could also be very effective as a WR in the slot as his size will cause mismatches against corners and safeties. He is a playmaker and was signed for his big play potential catching the ball.
These three guys aren’t guaranteed anything more than the opportunity to prove their worth and that they belong. All three of these guys played in the Pac 10 conference. They’ve been productive players and starters for their FBS level (formerly Division I) teams.

Brandon Rodd has exhibited versatility, elite intangibles and all the tools necessary to be effective in the zone blocking system. He is the type of linemen that has the talent and skills coach Tom Cable is looking for and that he can develop and mold into a solid NFL lineman.

Tranell Morant possesses good size and has also exhibited the versatility and elite intangibles that could make him a force against the run and pass for the defense.

Marcel Reece has the size and speed to create problems for a defense in the slot and if he can develop very well could turn into a very productive player.

All three of the undrafted free agents fill a need for the Raiders and will compete for a roster spot. The recently departed LT Barry Sims was once an undrafted free agent out of Utah that made the team. He also fought off several would-be drafted replacements in Matt Stinchcomb, Mo Collins and Robert Gallery.

It is too early to make any predictions on these guys and their immediate future but when your draft class consists of five players you need to find undrafted talent that can provide competition and help improve your team. The above mentioned guys have the opportunity to do that in training camp.

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