There’s always great excitement surrounding the team’s draft picks this time of year, and, trust me, I’m as excited as anyone to hear about the upcoming successes shown on the practice field and in the pre-season games by offensive players Dwayne Haskins, Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon, Wes Martin (for some reason, I always type Martin West... one of these days I’ll fail to correct it, and won’t that be embarrassing!?), Ross Pierschbacher, and the other 5 draft picks.
But there’s something special about the long-shot Cinderella Men of the summer — the college UDFAs who are trying to keep the hope alive.
Many people are quick to dismiss these undrafted players, but there is a long history of college free agents contributing and even becoming stars in the NFL. Adam Thielen, Tony Romo, Wes Welker, Jason Peters, James Harrison, Rod Smith, Antonio Gates, John Randle, and Kurt Warner are all players who put together high-level careers that put them on our TV screens in this century.
Among the Redskins, one of the greatest NFL players never to have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, Joe Jacoby, went undrafted back in the days when the draft lasted 18 rounds. London Fletcher, of course, was not only undrafted, but a small-school player from John-Carroll. Coy Bacon, mentioned in the comments section of the the Mount Rushmore of Redskins Pass Rushers article recently, spent the final 4 years of his 14-year NFL career in burgundy & gold, retiring the year before the NFL began recording sacks as an official statistic. It’s reported that Bacon would have retired with 130 career sacks if anyone had been counting them. Of course, one of the two men who seem to be most likely to take the first offensive snap of the 2019 season, Case Keenum, was an undrafted free agent in 2012.
In recent years, the Redskins seem to find one or two keepers annually from the pool of undrafted free agents. While many of these players simply provide depth and special teams play, some have risen to prominence. Probably the most successful UDFA of the past few seasons has been Quinton Dunbar, who not only had to overcome the undrafted stigma, but change position from wide receiver to defensive back to earn a roster spot. Cam Sims, Timon Parris, Casey Dunn, J.P. Holtz, Matt Flanagan, Cassanova McKinzy, Danny Johnson and Deshazor Everett have all seen some time on the Redskins roster in the past 12 months after coming to the NFL as undrafted college free agents.
Through a blend of hustle, smart play, good attitude and unexpected athleticism, a few undrafted players fight their way onto NFL rosters every year, in opposition to the huge odds stacked against them.
I have to say, after working with James FitzGerald to prepare profiles on most of the 2019 college free agents on the Redskins roster, my impression is that the Redskins front office exhausted themselves in this year’s draft, and didn’t seem to have much energy left for the job of attracting the top available undrafted free agents when the draft was done.
Last year at this time, when I reviewed the college free agent haul, it felt almost like a second draft: Simmie Cobbs Jr., Cam Sims, J.P. Holtz, Matt Flanagan, Timon Parris, Casey Dunn, Quinn Blanding, and Danny Johnson were the highlight players in a group of 14 UDFAs that seemed to enhance the good work that had been done in the April ‘18 draft.
This season feels, to me, by contrast, like a letdown in terms of what the UDFA class adds to the draft haul. The Redskins have 13 UDFAs on the current 90-man roster - 7 offensive and 6 defensive players - and my feeling is that this group is, man for man, less skilled than their 2018 counterparts.
Oddly, that may be a positive. Maybe the ‘Skins found it harder to recruit undrafted players because their agents felt they were unlikely to break into a deep roster.
Another possibility is that the Redskins are looking for specific types of players (i.e., fast receivers, good run blockers, DBs with positional flexibility) and are interested in adding players with specific traits to round out the roster.
It could be that my impressions are wrong, and this group of young undrafted players is better than I think they are.
My ‘dark horse’ offensive candidate for a spot on the team is Donald Parham, the 6’8” TE from Stetson who might make an intriguing option as a big slot receiver and red zone target.
At offensive line — and tackle in particular — the Redskins churned through players during OTAs and minicamp, so it’s possible that the guys they held onto are the ones the coaches feel show some promise. The fact that they cycled through several offensive tackles during OTAs and minicamp may be an indication of the level of concern they have that Trent Williams may not be on the field for the team this season.
In any event, the Redskins have a group of young men that have a chance to make the 53-man roster or the practice squad, contributing to the success of the Washington Redskins and keeping their individual NFL dreams alive.
In this article you will find a list of the offensive undrafted college free agents that are currently on the Redskins roster, and a short précis for each player, with a link to his Hogs Haven UDFA profile.
The mini-profiles below are organized alphabetically by each player’s last name, but here is the list of the 7 players from the offensive side of the ball, organized by position.
- Craig Reynolds, Kutztown
- T.J. Rahming, Duke
- Steven Sims, Kansas
- Donald Parham, Stetson
- Jerald Foster, G, Nebraska
- Blake Hance, OT, Northwestern
- Brian Wallace, OT, Arkansas
Jerald Foster, G, Nebraska
The most important positive thing to know about Jerald Foster is that he is a strong technician. His pass pro technique is top notch. He keeps his weight back and has a strong strike and gets into pass pro quickly. He moves his feet rapidly when preforming a down block. He also pulls and gets to his block quickly.
Foster plays strong on the field. I would be interested in finding out how much he squats cause he seems like a strong player.
While Foster is a strong technician, his weakness is his lack of athleticism.
Foster is slow getting downfield. In fact, he struggles running down field and getting an extra block to help the running back, which is a definite negative when it comes to playing in the Redskins offense, which requires a lot of movement from the guards.
He struggles blocking on the second level as well. When he move past the defensive line to the linebackers he struggles to make a block. He looks to be too slow to block a linebacker at the college level. This is troubling because the NFL linebackers are faster.
I’d go so far as to say that Foster looks out of shape. Often on the field he seemed gassed and finished the plays walking — giving up on plays because he looked too tired.
How would he fit with the Redskins?
I’m rather torn on my opinion about Foster. On one hand I see a strong technician, but on the other I see a poor athlete.
The Redskins need depth at offensive line, but they need quality depth, and they drafted two players in Martin and Pierschbacher who will go a long way toward filling out the depth chart. There’s really no chance that Jordan Foster cracks the 53-man roster in 2019.
I am also not sure I would give up a practice squad spot for him, but he’s the type of player who has been well-coached, so a year or two of NFL conditioning with Chad Englehart and training with Bill Callahan might be just what’s needed to turn this 23-year-old into an NFL player. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he makes the practice squad, giving him the chance to develop. He has the technique, but the athleticism needs to develop before he can be put onto an NFL active roster.
Blake Hance, OL, Northwestern
Hance was originally signed by the Buffalo Bills after the draft, but later cut, and then picked up by the Redskins. He is listed as a 6’5”, 310 pound offensive tackle on Redskins.com.
Because he was added late in the off-season, we did not prepare a Hogs Haven UDFA profile on him, but I have included an article below from Inside NU, the SB Nation website for the Northwestern Wildcats.
After being cut by the Buffalo Bills, the team that initially signed him as an undrafted free agent, Blake Hance has caught on with a different team.
The four-year starter with Northwestern has found a home with Washington, a team that is still looking for depth at tackle. After Ty Nsekhe’s departure last season to the Bills, who dropped Hance on May 22, Washington is currently without a distinct backup tackle behind presumptive starters Trent Williams and Morgan Moses. Hance will attempt to help fill that role.
Currently joining Hance on the Washington roster at offensive tackle are Geron Christian Sr, Timon Parris, and former New York Giant Ereck Flowers, who have combined to appear in three games in the burgundy and gold.
Despite being initially recruited as a tight end, the Jacksonville, Illinois native earned plenty of college experience on the line. Hance, who played in 46 games during his time at Northwestern, spent 42 of them at tackle....
Fansided’s Ian Cummings shared his view on Hance about a month ago:
At 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, Hance has good size for the tackle position, and with a basketball background, as well as a history at tight end and defensive end, tracking back to high school, Hance’s mobility isn’t a liability. His true movement skills are hard to quantify with the information available, but his combination of history and experience is at least promising. The lack of league interest in him, however, is not.
Hance finished his high school career as a three-star tight end recruit, and signed with the Northwestern Wildcats, where he was promptly moved to offensive tackle. After redshirting his freshman season, Hance started 46 games over the course of his career with the Northwestern Wildcats, primarily at left tackle, although he started four games at left guard in 2017.
Donald Parham, TE, Stetson
Parham breaks tackles with his power AND beats defenders with his speed. This combination could make it easy to create mismatches downfield.
Parham also has soft hands. He makes catching the football seem easy. He goes up and gets the football at the high point and he uses his hands to catch it rather than relying on body catches.
On the downside, Parham struggles blocking linebackers and defensive ends. When he lines up in the tight end spot on a run play, he is simply a terrible run blocker. Parham’s pad level is far too high and he will get bullied on the NFL level trying to block as a tight end. He cannot block a player that is stronger than he is, and he will not solve the ‘Skin’s need for a tight end that can catch and block consistently.
Actually, he rarely lined up in the tight end position in college. When he did, he looked uncomfortable in his stance. He has the tight end size, but he lined up at wide receiver mostly. This tells me that they didn’t trust him to block, and/or he gets knocked of his route too easily by a defensive end or linebacker.
How would he fit with the Redskins?
It’s hard to imagine the Skins signing another tight end who can’t put his hand in the dirt and block. The team already has two tight ends in Reed and Davis who fit that description. However, what the Skins don’t have is a 6’8 jump ball threat. If he is able to make the team, that will be his role.
Donald Parham doesn’t play special teams, and that will greatly hurt his chances. I think his receiving ability alone gives him an opportunity to make the practice squad, but I don’t see him playing tight end at the next level as he simply plays poorly with his hand in the dirt.
He’s a very long shot for the 53, and, if he makes the practice squad, it’s as a receiver not a tight end.
T.J. Rahming, WR, Duke
T.J Rahming is fast and he uses his speed to gain separation from the defense. He also uses his speed to gather yards after the catch, and the Redskins need more speed on their roster.
He is also willing to block on run plays. I wouldn’t say he excels at run blocking, but he at least shows he is willing.
He runs mostly out of the slot, and he is a fairly versatile player from this position. He executes many routes, runs end-arounds, and he even threw for a touchdown. This versatility would come in handy for the Redskin’s offense.
In fact, the good news is that Rahming was the most athletic player on the Blue Devils receiving corp, and it shows in almost every aspect of his game. However, the bad news is that it isn’t too difficult to be the most athletic player on the Duke football team.
Like all players, Rahming has limitations. There were times when he used his body to catch a pass. He should, of course, be using his hands as catching with the body will cause drops, and it takes longer to catch the ball when using the body.
He is also very easily knocked off of his routes. This is his greatest weakness. He is not very strong, and I almost feel as if a breath from an NFL cornerback would knock him off of his route.
He also often seemed out of position when running his routes. Daniel Jones would miss him, but it would be because Rahming ran his route too shallow or made his cut too late.
How would he fit with the Redskins?
Aside from his speed and athletic ability I don’t see any reason Rahming would make an NFL roster. It’s natural to compare him to Jamison Crowder, as they did both go to Duke, but Rahming is not even close to Crowder’s level.
Rahming did return punts for Duke, but I don’t see him as special in that category either.
In my opinion, T.J. Rahming will have a very short NFL career: he most likely will be cut at the end of pre-season.
Craig Reynolds, RB, Kutztown
Craig Reynolds is a strong runner; people bounce off of his decent sized frame. When hit he keeps his feet moving and is rarely brought down by the first tackler.
Along with his strength he also has decent speed and quickness. He makes quick and smart cuts to gain extra yards. Reynolds also has good vision. He finds the hole quickly and attacks before it closes up.
He is a great receiver out of the back field too, with good hands and the ability to track the ball in the air.
Importantly, Reynolds has special teams ability. He is a good kick returner and could possibly be used as a punt returner as well due to his vision combined with his speed and strength.
On the downside, Reynolds is not a great blocker. He does not strike the defensive pass rusher well, and he makes terrible cut blocks. He is lucky Kutztown’s QB was so mobile or Reynolds would have gotten him killed multiple times.
On top of that, in the game I watched, he wasn’t on the field during a two minute drill at the end of the half, which tells me the coach wasn’t comfortable having Reynolds in situations where he might’ve had to pass block.
Reynolds also doesn’t ‘sell’ the play action, but goes through the motions fairly lazily. At times he doesn’t even put up his arms to fake grab it. He will have to learn to be much more effective with these plays if he wants to make any NFL team.
A final issue for Craig Reynolds is that he spent his college career playing against inferior talent. He wasn’t playing against bad football players, but they were nothing like the competition he is going to see in camp. The talent gap might shock him.
How would he fit with the Redskins?
Without a doubt the Redskins signed Reynolds to try out as a returner on special teams. He is a great athlete; however, he is not better than any other running back on the Redskins roster. As I mentioned above, he returned kicks in college, and if he is able to wow the coaches as a returner, he could make the team, but if he doesn’t win the return job, he will be cut.
Steven Sims, WR, Kansas
Steven Sims Jr. is strong for his for his size.
With the ball in his hands against Oklahoma State he was able to stiff-arm a defender to gain a few extra yards; he also broke a few tackles to turn a stop on third down into a first down.
Sims is also a strong blocker. Kansas’s offense was based around the running back, and Steven Sims played his role well. If he wants to make the Redskins team, he is going to have to show off his blocking ability in camp.
He has a very high motor. Sims is always going the extra mile to make a block down field or to salvage a few positive yards on a sniffed out screen.
This former Jayhawk is an explosive player with a high acceleration level. He is not particularly fast, but he builds up speed quickly to gain yards after the catch. Sims also finds space to run. He takes good angles that make the defense miss.
Sims’ downside is mostly related to his diminutive stature.
Sims is a bit under 5’9. He is not tall for an NFL wide receiver, although there have been players his size that have had success.
Because of his size, he, at times, got lost in coverage on the field; when the QB threw it his way, he wasn’t where he was supposed to be.
Also, his route tree is limited and he was used mostly on screen plays. That may not be his fault, however. The Kansas offense was mostly based on the running back (look out for Pooka Williams BTW). Sims also had three different QBs throwing to him throughout the season, so put asterisk on this weakness.
How would he fit with the Redskins?
Steven Sims Jr. has to be a part of special teams to make the regular season roster. He was not the main punt or kick returner on film at Kansas, but he did return a few.
Sims has the ability to make the 53-man roster, but the Redskins have a few people that already have his skill set. To avoid getting cut or ending up on the practice squad, he will have to beat out our current return men for that spot, and he has a shot at doing that if he can shine in preseason.
In comparing him to T.J. Rahming, the Redskins’ other UFDA wide receiver, who is roughly the same size, with a similar skill set, Sims, in my opinion, has a better chance to make the team.
Brian Wallace, OT, Arkansas
Near the end of May, the Redskins released OT Chidi Okeke and signed Adam Bisnowaty. Just a few days later, Bisnawaty was released and Wallace was signed. This felt like 90th man roster churn, so we made the executive decision not to profile Wallace on the theory that he, too, might be released before we could write and publish his profile.
In fact, Wallace stuck, and remains on the 90-man training camp roster.
Perhaps the ‘Skins are looking for very specific developmental traits in their linemen. That would explain why they keep making moves and trying out new players. They want to find the guy that most fits the vision they have for the fourth tackle or a practice squad candidate to increase their chances of finding the next Nsekhe.
These won’t be the last moves Washington makes on the offensive line. It will be interesting to see who ultimately ends up winning a spot on the team and what tackles may end up having a chance to land a spot on the practice squad.
Here’s the view of Wallace from Lance Zerlein, of NFL.com:
A top-10 tackle prospect nationally and all-state selection out of Missouri, Wallace garnered interest from SEC schools and agreed to head to Fayetteville. He redshirted in 2014 and played in just three games as a reserve the following season. Razorbacks coaches stuck him at right tackle the final 10 games of his sophomore campaign. He did not earn a starting job to start the 2017 season but was inserted back on the right side for the final seven games of the year. Wallace stuck at that position in 2018, starting all 12 games.
Right tackle prospect with above average size and length, but a lack of skill level to take advantage of his physical advantages at this time. Wallace was a four-star prospect coming out, but he never lived up to that lofty evaluation after getting to Arkansas. His play strength misses the mark as he struggles to keep defenders from sliding away from base blocks and is unable to redirect edge pressure with much success. Teams might like the traits, but they may not be able to pair them with enough skill to make it.
Which OFFENSIVE UDFA currently on the 90-man roster are you most excited about?
This poll is closed
RB Craig Reynolds, Kutztown
WR T.J. Rahming, Duke
WR Steven Sims, Kansas
TE Donald Parham, Stetson
OG Jerald Foster, Nebraska
OT Blake Hance, Northwestern
OT Brian Wallace, Arkansas