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#pounditFriday, August 7, 2020

5 undrafted rookies who are likely to land on an NFL regular season roster

Hunter Bryant

NFL training camps are coming up, which means undrafted rookies will be preparing themselves to do anything within their power to keep their dreams of playing professional football alive.

For some, that goal will be easier to obtain than others, but it certainly won’t come without some hard work.

Here’s a look at five undrafted rookies who are the most likely to land on an NFL regular season roster.

5. Joe Bachie, LB, New Orleans Saints

Joe Bachie was one of the best linebackers the Big Ten had to offer in recent years, so the fact that he went undrafted was a bit of a head-scratcher for many. Ultimately, his questionable speed (4.67) and lack of top-end athleticism had some scouts believing Bachie couldn’t transition to the NFL game where elite speed and athleticism now define offenses. A failed drug test didn’t help, either. However, a good coach will see what Bachie can do and overlook what he can’t do, which is why landing under Sean Payton in New Orleans may be the perfect situation. With the Saints, Bachie will have a good opportunity to not only land on the 53-man roster, but also to carve out a potential role as a reserve or rotational linebacker.

4. J.J. Taylor, RB, New England Patriots

At 5-foot-6 and 185 pounds, it’s not too surprising that NFL general managers steered clear of J.J. Taylor in the 2020 NFL Draft, even with a Day 3 grade on the young back. However, it’s also not surprising that he became somewhat of a hot commodity during the undrafted free agent signing process, ultimately landing with the New England Patriots, which may turn out to be a blessing for Taylor. Although the Pats are relatively deep at the running back position (in terms of sheer numbers), Bill Belichick never fears roster turnover and tends to find a way to get the most out of every player on the roster. And Taylor is electric. He is quick, efficient and has good hands out of the backfield, but he’s also fearless. He’s a guy who will put his head down, attack a hole, and run North-South, taking on defenders much larger than he is. That will endear him to Belichick and the Patriots organization.

3. Parnell Motley, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There were some limited questions about Parnell Motley’s burst and maybe a slight concern over his size, but it was still a surprise to see him go undrafted in April. After all, Motley’s 30 combined passes defensed and interceptions since 2017 were seventh among cornerbacks in his draft class, which speaks to a high level of production and consistency. Those come at a premium in the NFL, yet no general manager was willing to call his name. That’s good news for the Buccaneers, who almost immediately signed Motley as an undrafted free agent. In Tampa Bay, Motley not only has a strong chance to make the final 53-man roster, but he could very well compete for significant playing time in 2020.

2. Anthony Gordon, QB, Seattle Seahawks

Anthony Gordon was lost in the shuffle of quarterbacks who went atop the 2020 NFL Draft, largely because he was viewed as undersized. But even then, many anticipated he’d be a quality Day 3 prospect. Instead, Gordon went undrafted, but was instantly picked up by the Seattle Seahawks, who had Russell Wilson as their only quarterback on the roster at the time. It’s an ideal situation for Gordon, who not only remains in the state of Washington, but will have the opportunity to compete with Geno Smith, who signed in May, for the backup role. An impressively accurate passer with a high football IQ, Gordon has Alex Smith-like tools, which will guarantee that the Seahawks or another team hangs onto him.

1. Hunter Bryant, TE, Detroit Lions

Hunter Bryant was considered a potential top-100 prospect entering the 2020 NFL Draft, but his name was never called in April (likely due to knee injuries in college). Instead, he signed with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent, where he’ll be thrust into a competition with T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James, and a few others. That’s good news for Bryant, who may already be the best option the Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford have at tight end. If Bryant is able to stay healthy and on the field, his route running ability and general athleticism make him a dynamic option in the passing game. And if he can improve his blocking? Forget about it.

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