FanPost

Undrafted Free Agents

As some of you know, I subscribe to Mike Detillier's Draft Report, an extensive draft guide published each year.  I was able to go through it and weed out all of the players selected in last week's NFL Draft.  What remains are the best undrafted free agents available.  After the jump, I'll cover the top five at each position, as well as give an overview of where the Saints currently stand in their never-ending pursuit of roster perfection. 

Numbers indicate each players' overall rank at his respective position going into the draft.


QUARTERBACKS
9. Pat Devlin - Delaware
13. Adam Weber - Minnesota
15. Scott Tozien - Wisconsin
16. Taylor Potts - Texas Tech
17. Jerrod Johnson - Texas A&M

On hand (3):  Drew Brees, Chase Daniel, Sean Canfield
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (0)
Priority: 6/10
Analysis:  The Saints could still use a backup QB with a few NFL starts under his belt.  Daniel showed virtually nothing in limited action against the Bucs.  There's truly nothing to see here, though.  A low budget, unrestricted veteran with some upside, such as Tyler Thigpen, Bruce Gradkowski or Kellen Clemens would be a nice fit.

RUNNING BACKS
20. Noel Devine - West Virginia
21. John Clay - Wisconsin
23. Derrick Locke - Kentucky
25. Graig Cooper - Miami
27. Darren Evans - Virginia Tech

On hand (5):  Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, Chris Ivory, Joique Bell, Chris Taylor
Drafted (1): Mark Ingram
Potential returnees (4): Lynell Hamilton, Julius Jones, Ladell Betts, DeShawn Wynn
Priority: 3/10
Analysis:  P.J. Hill was already released.  Jones, Betts and Wynn are not likely to be retained.  There is little need for additional RBs at this point, though one or two more camp bodies will probably be brought in.  If Bush elects not to renegotiate his contract, punt and/or kick return abilities could factor heavily into who is ultimately retained as the fourth back.

FULLBACKS
4. Henry Hynoski - Pittsburgh
6. Robert Hughes - Notre Dame
8. Patrick DiMarco - South Carolina
9. Ben Guidugli - Cincinnati
10. Bubba Bartlett - Carroll College

On hand (1):  Jed Collins
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (1): Heath Evans
Priority: 8/10
Analysis:  I'm not a fan of Heath Evans and would like to see this position upgraded, specifically in terms of lead blocking.  I don't think we need an all-purpose FB, being that every HB on the roster -- other than perhaps Chris Ivory -- has shown a knack for catching the ball out of the backfield.  Brett Morse (Iowa) is another UDFA prospect in this vein that deserves mention.  If not a bruising rookie, Vonta Leach and John Kuhn appear to be the best of the UFA bunch.  Mike Tolbert and Le'Ron McClain could also be worth a look, considering we don't currently have a true short yardage back.  I don't imagine either of these guys would be terribly excited about being relegated to one or two touches per game, though.

WIDE RECEIVERS
17. Ricardo Lockette - Fort Valley State
21. Terrence Toliver - LSU
23. Dane Sanzenbacher - Ohio State
25. Darvin Adams - Auburn
26. Tori Gurley - South Carolina

On hand (5):  Marques ColstonRobert Meachem, Devery Henderson, Adrian Arrington, Andy Tanner
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (2): Lance Moore, Courtney Roby
Priority: 7/10
Analysis:  Re-signing Lance Moore is a priority.  Don't be surprised if it doesn't happen right away though, as I'm sure there will be some level of interest from other teams looking for a veteran possession receiver.  I don't expect Courtney Roby back, as he's reportedly contemplating retirement and was ineffective at his lone duty (kickoff returns) last season.  Outside of Moore, I don't expect the Saints to sink a lot of money into this position.  While it would be great to land a double team commanding talent like Randy Moss, it's simply not going to happen this offseason.  Toliver is a strong possibility due to his area ties, as is Phillip Livas (Louisiana Tech), a diminutive returns specialist who the Saints reportedly had in for a pre-draft visit.  Like RB, this is another position where PR/KR abilities could spell the difference between a roster spot and a visit from the Turk in late August.

TIGHT ENDS
8. Mike McNeill - Nebraska
10. Weslye Saunders - South Carolina
11. Andre Smith - Virginia Tech
12. Zack Pianalto - North Carolina
13. Cameron Graham - Louisville

On hand (2):  Jimmy Graham, Tyler Lorenzen
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (2): David Thomas, Tory Humphrey
Priority: 8/10
Analysis:  Thomas is UFA priority A-1, in my opinion.  Not only would his signing solidify the TE position, it would also mitigate the need for a FB, at least to some degree.  If he isn't retained, I don't see both Lorenzen and Humphrey making the cut, as we would be nearly void of experience at the position.  Regardless, I'd like to see the Saints go after a pure blocking TE.  Someone in the Darnell Dinkins mold.   Granted, we may already have that in Lorenzen.  To be honest, I'm not all that familiar with his skills set.  If not, whether that blocking TE comes via UDFA or UFA depends solely on Thomas.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES
17. Byron Bell - New Mexico
18. Josh Davis - Georgia
20. Jarriel King - South Carolina
21. Adam Grant - Arizona
22. Willie Smith - East Carolina

On hand (3):  Jon Stinchcomb, Charles Brown, Roger Allen
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (2):  Jermon Bushrod, Zach Strief
Priority: 9/10
Analysis:  Even if both Bushrod and Strief are retained, this position is absolutely critical to the Saints' 2011 success.  Stinchcomb is reportedly coming along slowly in his offseason injury rehabilitation and Charles Brown has yet to play a down in the NFL.  It would be great to land a franchise LT in UFA, but that simply isn't going to happen.  Still, we could certainly use a proven battler (and potential upgrade) at the position.  Doug Free and Tyson Clabo are the cream of the expected UFA crop.  Clabo can play both the tackle and guard position, as can Allen and Strief.  A sixth UDFA worthy of mention is Kevin Hughes (Southeastern Louisiana).  Hughes, 6'4" 305 lbs, attended Edna Karr High School in New Orleans and is a lifelong fan of the Saints.  I'll be quite surprised if he's not brought into camp.

OFFENSIVE GUARDS
8. Zach Hurd - Connecticut
11. Ray Dominguez - Arkansas
12. Carl Johnson - Florida
13. Garrett Chisolm - South Carolina
15. Bryant Browning - Ohio State

On hand (2):  Jahri Evans, Brian de la Puente
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (1): Carl Nicks
Priority: 6/10
Analysis:  Nicks is likely to be a restricted free agent, so I'm not as worried about this position, as I am at tackle.  That said, even with Nicks in the fold, it's not exactly a position teeming with quality depth.  Look for one or two UDFAs to be brought in, including one of the aforementioned SEC players, who should be cool with staying relatively close to home.  A veteran addition is also a possibility and there's a full slate of 20somethings out there that could help.

CENTERS
3. Alex Linnenkohl - Oregon State
4. Jake Kirkpatrick - TCU
5. Kristofer O'Dowd - USC
16. Tim Barnes - Missouri
17. Ryan Bartholomew - Syracuse

On hand (3):  Matt Tennant, Jason Kyle, Justin Drescher
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (1): Jonathan Goodwin
Priority: 5/10
Analysis:  Goodwin is actually the highest rated UFA center available.  As long as he isn't talking Carl Nicks money, he's the guy they should be targeting, especially since he can also play guard.  Kyle is coming off a season ending injury and will be 39 years old next week.  The Saints didn't seem to miss a beat with "The Nanny" on long snaps, so look for Kyle to get the axe at some point this offseason.  They may still wind up bringing in someone else, especially if Goodwin gets away.  Fortunately, there are still three available from the Top 5 of this year's draft class.   Regardless, we appear to be in pretty good shape, in terms of a head count.  Meaning Sean Payton should finally be able to delete Kevin Houser from his speed dial, once and for all.  That was sarcasm, folks.

DEFENSIVE ENDS
12. Pierre Allen - Nebraska
14. Brandon Bair - Oregon
18. Ryan Winterswyk - Boise State
19. Ugo Chinasa - Oklahoma State
22. Justin Trattou - Florida

On hand (3):  Will Smith, Alex Brown, Junior Galette
Drafted (2): Cameron Jordan, Greg Romeus
Potential returnees (2): Jeff Charleston, Jimmy Wilkerson
Priority: 6/10
Analysis:  We appear to be in pretty good shape here, after spending a first rounder on Jordan.  I'd like to see Charleston re-signed, as I think he's about as bargain basement an end as you're going to find in UFA.  Romeus is a crapshoot that may or may not pay off.  Getting Jordan into camp on time will be key.  I fully expect Brown to retain his starting job, at least through the first half of the season.  Depth is a slight concern and they may wind up bringing in another low profile veteran DE in the Wilkerson mold, before it's all over with.  One other UDFA to keep an eye out for is Kentrell Lockett (Ole Miss).  He's coming off a torn ACL, but is an exceptional special teams player who excels at blocking kicks.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES
13. Ian Williams - Notre Dame
17. Cedric Thornton - Southern Arkansas
18. John Graves - Virginia Tech
20. Martin Parker - Richmond
24. Sealver Siliga - Utah

On hand (5):  Sedrick Ellis, Shaun Rogers, Mitch King, Tom Johnson, Swanson Miller
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (2): Remi Ayodele, Anthony Hargrove
Priority: 6/10
Analysis:  Cameron Jordan is at least capable of playing inside in the 4-3, so this is no longer the need it was prior to the draft.  Of the two potential returnees, Hargrove brings that same level of inside/outside versatility to the table and, while a better DT prospect than Jordan, he simply isn't a better NT than Ayodele is.  If forced to choose between the two, I'd rather have Remi back.  Ideally, we'll be able to reel both in.  If not, there are bigger and better fish in the sea, incuding UFA Brandon Mebane, who I'd absolutely love to see suited up in black & gold.  As far as UDFAs go, there's just something about a DT named Graves that makes my crotch twitch.  Who's with me?

INSIDE LINEBACKERS
9. Josh Bynes - Auburn
12. Scott Lutrus - Connecticut
13. Nick Bellore - Central Michigan
14. Alex Wujciak - Maryland
15. Jonathan Cornell - Ole Miss

On hand (2):  Jonathan Vilma, Stanley Arnoux
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (1): Marvin Mitchell
Priority: 5/10
Analysis:  Again, not an area of tremendous need.  I'd like to see Mitchell return, as he's fairly solid in the 3-4 and exceptional on special teams.  Arnoux is a question mark, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, as long as Vilma is holding down the Mike.  Bynes would be a nice pick up, especially if it somehow lands me a date with his older sister, Amanda.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS
14. Mark Herzlich - Boston College
17. Adrian Moten - Maryland
20. Thomas Keiser - Stanford
21. Mario Addison - Troy
17. Mario Harvey - Marshall

On hand (2):  Jonathan Casillas, Ezra Butler
Drafted (2): Martez Wilson, Nate Bussey
Potential returnees (6): Scott Shanle, Danny Clark, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Kawika Mitchell, Anthony Waters, Ramon Huber
Priority: 8/10
Analysis:  Quality, not quantity, is the problem at OLB.  As is, Wilson will start on the weak side from Day 1.  He should eventually find a home on the strong side, but his footwork and reactionary skills will need time to develop.  Who will man the Sam in the interim is the biggest unsolved mystery on the current roster.  Even if you throw Wilson to the wolves, you've got a bigger void to fill at the Will.  It's a situation that will remain under heavy scrutiny, until all the pieces fall into place.  Dunbar is a restricted free agent, so he'll likely be back.  As I've mentioned several times prior, I'd like to see them go after either Tamba Hali or Chad Greenway.  I'm fine with Wilson battling Shanle, Clark or Dunbar (whichever they decide to re-sign) for strong side duty.  Just give me someone that can consistently contain the outside on off tackle running plays and at least occasionally get after the QB.  Is that too much to ask?  It must be, because we haven't had anyone who fits that decription since Keith Mitchell, and that was over a decade ago.  Until that glorious day, Illini Twin powers ... ACTIVATE!

CORNERBACKS
22. Kendrick Burney - North Carolina
23. Ryan Hill - Miami
26. Kevin Rutland - Missouri
29. Devon Torrence - Ohio State
30. Ryan Jones - Northwest Missouri State

On hand (5):  Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter, Patrick Robinson, Randall Gay, Mark Parson
Drafted (1): Johnny Patrick
Potential returnees (1): Leigh Torrence
Priority: 5/10
Analysis:  Patrick should make the team and I would like to see Torrence re-signed, as he's a solid special teams contributor.  Outside of that, this may be the only position on the team that would be better served through subtraction.  Randall Gay's exorbitant salary needs to be re-routed towards Drew Brees, David Thomas and Carl Nicks.  He isn't worth anywhere close to what we're paying him.  It's that simple.  If you need a couple more guys to round out the DB corps, why not consider someone who excels in run support, like Richard Marshall?  Or any Jeaux Bleaux off the street that can return punts.  What else are they going to be doing, besides collecting arse splinters on the bench?

FREE SAFETIES
9. Deunta Williams - North Carolina
12. Jerrard Tarrant - Georgia Tech
13. Will Hill - Florida
14. Brian Lainhart - Kent State
17. Jai Eugene - LSU

On hand (1):  Malcolm Jenkins
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (2): Darren Sharper, Usama Young
Priority: 8/10
Analysis:  Jenkins is the only safety on the current roster, period.  From the standpoint of depth alone, that makes it a high priority position.  Darren Sharper won't be back, nor should he be for the ridiculous money he raked in last season.  I'm fine with Young returning, but if PayLoo isn't, there are plenty of other options available.  Look for Eugene as a possible camp body this go round.

STRONG SAFETIES
3. Joe Lefeged - Rutgers
4. DeAndre McDaniel - Clemson
6. Jeron Johnson - Boise State
9. Eugene Williams - Tennessee State
10. Nate Williams - Washington

On hand (0)
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (4): Roman Harper, Pierson Prioleau, Chris Reis, Matt Giordano
Priority: 10/10
Analysis:  With zero SSs on the roster, we absolutely must sign two.  More like four or five, if you want true competition for the roster spots.  For as little college football as I watch, I've actually seen Lefeged play and came away thoroughly impressed.  Unlike Harper, he's a sure tackler and a superb gunner on special teams.  Not sure why this guy slipped through the cracks, but he did, along with four of his Top 10 peers.  That's wonderful news, considering the state of the current roster. 

KICKERS
2. Kai Forbath - UCLA
3. Dan Bailey - Oklahoma State
4. Josh Jasper - LSU
5. Wes Byrum - Auburn
6. Jacob Rogers - Cincinnati

On hand (1):  Garrett Hartley
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (0)
Priority: 3/10
Analysis:  While Hartley pretty much has the placekicking duties sewn up, he has struggled on and off at times.  I can see the Saints bringing in someone like Jasper or Byrum to at least keep our Fat Punk Kicker company through the summer.

PUNTERS
1. Chas Henry - Florida
2. Ryan Donahue - Iowa
3. Reid Forrest - Washington State
5. Derek Epperson - Baylor
6. Trevor Hankins - Arizona State

On hand (1):  Thomas Morstead
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (0)
Priority: 1/10
Analysis:  Only one punter -- Matt Bosher (Miami) -- was drafted last week, meaning the Saints would just about have their pick of the litter, if they feel the need to push Morstead this offseason.  Outside of the Top 5 listed above, there are three punters from the state of Louisiana who could wind up being excellent cat rapist proteges: Derek Helton (LSU), Patrick Dolan (Nicholls State) and Spencer Ortego (UL-Lafayette).  Among draft eligible players at their position, these talented locals ranked 7th, 8th and 12th in the nation respectively.

RETURN SPECIALISTS
1. Antoine "Shaky" Smithson - Utah
2. Leon Barry - Mississippi State
12. Phillip Livas - Louisiana Tech
14. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos - Iowa
17. Joe Lefeged - Rutgers

On hand (4):  Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Robert Meachem, Tracy Porter
Drafted (0)
Potential returnees (2):  Lance Moore, Courtney Roby
Priority: 7/10
Analysis:  I already mentioned the unlikelihood of Roby returning, as well as the potential of Livas and Lefeged as UDFAs.  I find it interesting that the top two return men in this draft both went unselected.  While that may have something to do with the new kickoff rules being instituted, the fact that neither has an offensive/defensive forte to fall back on couldn't have lent much to their resumes, either.  Still, Barry may be worth a look.  I also wouldn't rule out Ivory, Hamilton or Arrington.  While we have yet to see any of these players even attempt to field a punt/kick as a Saint, they're all backups who could potentially find themselves on the bubble.  Especially if they're not willing to go above and beyond to contribute.

This FanPost was written by a reader and member of Canal Street Chronicles. It does not necessarily reflect the views of CSC and its staff or editors.

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