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Undrafted free agents were among the biggest victims of the NFL lockout, as they were unable to have contact with teams or sign contracts while owners and players worked out a new collective bargaining agreement.
However, with free agency set to begin this week, that state of limbo is ending and undrafted players will finally know where they're headed.
Here's a look at the top 40 undrafted free agents in Scouts Inc.'s 2011 prospect rankings and what they have to offer the teams that will come calling.
- EnlargeJim O'Connor/US Presswire
Joe Lefeged is strong on special teams and a potential starter in the NFL.
1. Joe Lefeged, S, Rutgers (Scouts Inc. grade: 73)
Lefeged possesses a nice combination of size and straight-line speed, and the range, discipline and toughness to contribute as a sub-package safety and special-teams player early in his career. He also has the skills and potential to develop into a starting strong safety in time.
2. Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina (68)
Burney's lack of size (5-foot-9⅜, 186 pounds) and top-end speed (4.74 in the 40) are likely the reasons he went undrafted, but he has the instincts, short-area quickness and ball skills to add depth and eventually compete for a starting job in a Cover 2-heavy scheme.
3. Cedric Thornton, DT, Southern Arkansas (64)
Thornton has enough size and short-area power to develop into an adequate reserve as a one-gap lineman for a base 4-3 team.
4. Darvin Adams, WR, Auburn (62)
Adams lacks top-end speed and suddenness in his routes, but he is a smooth athlete with the body control, hands and toughness to develop into a No. 4 or No. 5 receiver at the next level.
5. DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson (61)
McDaniel has limitations in terms of fluidity and top-end speed, but he has the size, strength and instincts to become an effective in-the-box safety, and he also flashes above-average ball skills.
6. Jeron Johnson, S, Boise State (60)
Johnson is still developing in terms of instincts and discipline in coverage but has the quickness and agility to contribute in sub packages.
7. Ian Williams, DT, Notre Dame (58)
Williams is a limited athlete with a squatty build, but it provides him with natural leverage to anchor in the middle and bolster a team's interior run defense. He also has the versatility to line up in three- or four-man fronts.
8. Mark Herzlich, OLB, Boston College (58)
We ranked Herzlich as the No. 1 overall defensive prospect in the nation following the 2008 season, but he missed the entire 2009 season while battling cancer and was not the same player when he returned to the field in 2010. He lacks elite athleticism, especially when asked to play in space, but Herzlich has the frame, smarts, toughness and intangibles to develop into an effective strongside linebacker if he returns to 100 percent.
9. Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky (58)
Locke's size (5-8¼, 188) and lack of power limit his potential as an every-down player, but he has the instincts, lateral quickness, body control, hands and toughness to make an impact as a third-down back and special-teams contributor.
10. Nick Bellore, ILB, Central Michigan (56)
Bellore is limited in coverage and as a pass-rusher but has the size, smarts, motor and toughness to develop into an effective two-down run-stopper and contributor on special teams.
11. Zach Hurd, G, Connecticut (56)
Hurd has good size (6-6¾, 316), strength and long arms, plus the natural ability and toughness to develop into a quality backup guard in the NFL.
12. Ricardo Lockette, WR, Fort Valley State (56)
Lockette is a well-traveled, unpolished prospect with limited football experience, but he has the size and raw talent to become a solid fourth or fifth receiver, given enough time and coaching.
13. Scott Lutrus, OLB, Connecticut (54)
Lutrus comes with durability concerns but showed well at the NFL combine and has the speed, toughness and smarts to provide depth on the strong side for a base 4-3 defense.
14. Dane Sanzenbacher, WR, Ohio State (54)
Sanzenbacher is undersized (5-11⅜, 182) and lacks the speed to threaten vertically in the NFL, but he shows the quickness, hand-eye coordination and competitiveness to contribute as a sub-package slot receiver and help on special teams.
15. Orie Lemon, ILB, Oklahoma State (52)
Lemon has a good combination of size (6-0¾, 242), strength and closing burst to fit nicely as a two-down strongside inside linebacker for a 3-4 defense.
16. Willie Smith, OT, East Carolina (52)
Smith has the frame (6-5⅜, 310) and athletic ability to develop into an effective reserve tackle, though he needs to get stronger and improve his technique under the direction of NFL coaching.
17. Will Hill, S, Florida (51)
Hill has upside because of his above-average athleticism, though his instincts still need developing and character concerns probably helped cause him to go undrafted.
18. Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU (51)
Toliver's size (6-3½, 212), deceiving top-end speed, body control and good hands give him the potential to develop into a No. 3 or 4 receiver at the next level, though he is a bit tight in his routes.
19. David Sims, S, Iowa State (49)
Sims is undersized and older than most prospects, but he shows good instincts, adequate range and coverage, and a willingness to mix it up against the run and on special teams.
- EnlargeCraig Mitchelldyer/US Presswire
Brandon Bair has the potential to help against the run as a five-technique.20. Brandon Bair, DT, Oregon (49)
Bair lacks the anchor to line up inside, but his frame (6-5⅞, 276) gives him the length to contribute as a five-technique for a 3-4 team if he improves his fundamentals.
21. Kai Forbath, PK, UCLA (49)
Forbath has the leg strength and accuracy to eventually become an effective place-kicker at the next level.
22. Ryan Winterswyk, DE, Boise State (48)
Winterswyk is disciplined and plays with a consistent motor, and although he is a limited athlete, he would fit well as a reserve five-technique in a 3-4 scheme.
23. Ryan Jones, CB, NW Missouri State (47)
Jones has above-average speed and athleticism and he plays the ball well in coverage, though his tackling in run support needs some work.
24. Martin Parker, DT, Richmond (47)
Parker has the size (6-2⅛, 303), athleticism and skill sets to develop into an adequate reserve three-technique for a team that runs a 4-3 defense.
25. Zack Pianalto, TE, North Carolina (47)
Durability issues kept Pianalto from being drafted, but he has good hands and the ability to get open against zone coverage, and is an effective downfield blocker.
26. Weslye Saunders, TE, South Carolina (46)
Major character concerns scared teams off on draft weekend, but Saunders has the frame (6-5⅛, 270), ball skills and enough speed to become a solid NFL tight end if he reaches his full potential.
27. Deunta Williams, S, North Carolina (45)
Williams' top-end speed is above-average and he moves well laterally, and he is at his best in zone coverage. He flashes good ball skills as well but lacks size/power and is timid at times in run support.
28. Garrett Chisolm, G, South Carolina (44)
Chisolm comes with durability concerns and needs developing in terms of footwork, but he is a high-character player with the frame and power to provide depth at guard.
29. Ryan Donahue, P, Iowa (44)
Donahue shows the leg strength and directional punting ability to become an effective punter in the NFL.
30. Graig Cooper, RB, Miami (Fla.) (44)
A major knee injury in 2009 robbed Cooper of explosiveness and lateral quickness, but he offers enough vision, short-area quickness and third-down ability to become a change-of-pace back at the next level.
31. Charlie Gantt, TE, Michigan State (44)
Gantt is not elite in any area but has the potential and overall skill set to develop into an effective No. 2 tight end at the next level.
32. Armon Binns, WR, Cincinnati (43)
Binns is limited as a route-runner and lacks explosiveness, but he shows good hands and body control to contribute as he develops.
33. Alex Linnenkohl, C, Oregon State (42)
Linnenkohl's athleticism is limited, but he is a hard worker who flashes instincts as a pass-blocker and could provide depth along the interior with proper development.
34. Mario Addison, OLB, Troy (42)
Addison plays with good pad level and appears strong enough to set the edge against the run, and he shows active hands as a pass-rusher.
35. Joe Torchia, TE, Virginia (42)
Torchia runs sharp routes, clearly works hard on the little things, shows good hands and runs hard after the catch.
36. Terrance Turner, WR, Indiana (42)
Turner runs good routes and has above-average ball skills, and if he can contribute on special teams, he could become a solid No. 4 or 5 receiver in the NFL.
37. Ricky Henry, G, Nebraska (41)
Henry is a blue-collar player with excellent toughness and a mean streak, and he flashes above-average upper-body strength in the run game.
38. Tori Gurley, WR, South Carolina (41)
Gurley's size (6-4⅛, 216) and athleticism give him a chance to develop into a strong fourth or fifth receiver for an NFL team.
39. Pierre Allen, DE, Nebraska (40)
Allen has the size (6-3½, 273), upper-body strength and long arms to provide depth and possibly develop into a starting left end in a four-man front.
40. Mike Holmes, S, Syracuse (40)
Holmes is a tough, versatile defensive back who played both corner and safety in college, and his ability to contribute as a kick and punt returner could also be an asset for an NFL team.