It’s that time of the year where NFL teams are refining their rosters for their final 53-man squads to be rolled out this Saturday. While it’s unlikely that any immediate starting caliber players will get released, it’s quite likely that at least a few depth quality guys and practice squad prospects could be let go, particularly on teams that have great depth within a particular position group.
Tonight we’ll look around the league at teams’ areas of strength, and look at players on the edge of rosters who might be a good fit for the WFT’s needs.
Areas of Need
The WFT has areas of substantial depth, most notably the defensive line and running back room. However, it also has several key positions of need, most notably, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, and - potentially - cornerback.
The following is a list of players who may be cut over the course of the next day or two in those areas of need, with a brief description of each (source material is linked at the player name):
Wide Receiver Options
Aaron Parker (Dallas)
Parker comes to the Dallas Cowboys after a tremendous career with Rhode Island. Known as an excellent route runner, he averaged 19.2 yards per reception as a freshman and 15.5 yards per reception over his four seasons at Rhode Island. Per PlayerProfiler.com, Parker finished with a score of 97.1 “speed score” which combines height and weight in relation to 40-yard dash times, which puts him in the 60th percentile among wide receivers. Meaning his size and speed combination is better than 59% of the wide receivers in this year’s draft class.
Hakeem Butler (Arizona)
At 6-6, 225 Butler ran a 4.45 at the 2019 NFL Combine—-coming off his junior season at Iowa St. where he set a school receiving record with his 60 catch, 1,318 (22.0 ave) and 9 TD season. Scouts raved about his size, speed and super-physical style of running over CBs and FSs for every yard he can get. The main concern about Butler was his tendency to drop some catchable passes from time to time.
Auden Tate (Cincinnati)
As a seventh-rounder, No. 253 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, Tate caught just four passes on 12 targets in the seven games he did appear in his rookie season. But in 2019, Tate saw 80 targets, hauled in 40 catches for 575 yards, a 14.7 yards-per-catch average, and one touchdown while starting in 10 games.
Collin Johnson (Jacksonville)
While he starred while at Texas, at 6-foot-6, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone admits he didn’t quite expect some aspects of Johnson’s game to be so well-defined. “Has he done things here that I maybe didn’t see on film, like dropping weight and getting in and out of cuts, that’s something that is a little bit different but I would say yes, we’ve seen that.”
Gehrig Dieter (Kansas City)
During his collegiate career, the South Bend (Indiana) native was a superstar at Bowling Green State University and helped Alabama football capture a Southeastern Conference title in 2016. In his lone year with the Crimson Tide, Dieter totaled 15 receptions for 214 yards and four scores. He was great on special teams and embodied an exceptional work ethic.
Earnest Edwards (Rams)
He’s a thinking man’s football player. He makes the best use of what he is given on practically every play. And he has an uncanny knack of hauling in the pass no matter what the coverage, or what the angle, or what the distance. One-handed, two-handed, or even cradling the ball against his chest, he always seems to come up with the catch.
David Sills (Giants)
At 6-foot-3, Sills is actually one of the taller receivers within a group that truly lacks significant height. Jones really missed a tall weapon near the end zone throughout his rookie campaign and Sills could attempt to fill that existent gap, which would be huge in terms of the quarterback’s development.
Tight Ends Options
Jesper Horsted (Chicago)
The Princeton alumnus started the season on the practice squad but was added to the active roster in the wake of Burton and Shaheen’s injuries. A converted wide receiver, Horsted was impressive during last year’s preseason. During the regular season, however, he only made eight receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. Horsted was used in plenty of multi-receiver sets, and he still has plenty of receiver-like instincts and tendencies.
Eric Saubert (Chicago)
“He played so well (at the Shrine Bowl practices) that I went back and looked at Drake tape last night and came away even more impressed with how athletic he is,” Mike Mayock, NFL.com’s leading draft analyst, wrote back in January. “He’s 247 pounds and runs like a wide receiver.
Pharaoh Brown (Cleveland)
“PFF grades Brown as a 67.7 overall run blocker, and he is equally reliable in pass protection. Eventually, teams will start to recognize Brown is a blocking tight end, if they haven’t already. That is when coach Freddie Kitchens can sneak in some play-action pass chances for Brown.”
Stephen Carlson (Cleveland)
Carlson finished the year with 5 catches for 51 yards and 1 touchdown. During his limited playing time, he showed good hands, which makes sense since he played the receiver position at Princeton. His tweener size led to him being converted to a tight end in the NFL, and his blocking skills are still to be determined.
Jake Butt (Denver)
When healthy, Butt has intriguing talent. He won the John Mackey Award as a senior at Michigan as the nation’s top tight end, and he set school records for career receptions (138) and yards (1,646). He tore his ACL in the 2016 Orange Bowl, though, which pushed the first-round talent down draft boards. Denver selected him in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and he spent his first season on the non-football injury list as he rehabbed.
Kahale Warring (Houston)
Prior to the 2019 NFL Draft, many scouts described Warring as raw but having a very high ceiling. The rookie-to-be ran a 4.67 second 40-yard dash, worked the bench press 19 times, and had a 36.5” vertical jump. For a 6’6” guy, that’s some serious reach. So much so that the Houston Chronicle compared him to Kansas City Chief Travis Kelce.
Tanner Hudson (Tampa Bay)
Hudson was a college free agent in 2018 and spent his rookie season on Tampa’s practice squad. He then had an exciting pre-season with the Buccaneers, making exciting plays as a pass catcher.
Hudson made his way on the field for Tampa Bay nine times in 2019 and accounted for two catches for 26 yards.
Offensive Line Options
Terence Steele (Dallas)
His length and mobility suggests he has the makings of a quality pass blocker at the next level but his erratic footwork, poor balance and inconsistent punch leads to a world of trouble against poor pass rushers in the Big 12. Unfortunately, his lack of functional strength creates problems creating push in the run game. As it stands, the appeal with Steele comes from his leadership qualities, experience and frame. He’s an underdeveloped football player that is a project.
Myles Bryant (New England)
While Bryant’s versatility, football intelligence and high motor are all intriguing, he finds himself in a difficult position no matter if the Patriots project him as a safety or cornerback: the team is deep at both positions with only one or two roster spots — up to nine defensive backs can be seen as locks or near-locks to make the team — realistically open for competition. But even if the 22-year-old fails to surprise and earn one of them, he seems like a natural candidate to be groomed on the practice squad for one year.
Sidney Jones (Philadelphia)
Jones has appeared in just 22 games in three seasons. The 24-year-old struggled with hamstring injuries in 2018, and last season, not only did the hamstring issues return, but Jones struggled with his play. He was active but didn’t play twice last season, and he had a six-game stretch where he was inactive twice and played just four defensive snaps.
Still, Jones managed to make key pass breakups to seal crucial wins over the Giants and Cowboys down the stretch last season.
Tell me which of these guys, if any, you think we should be looking out for on the waiver wires over the course of the next couple of days.