Monday, May 2, 2016

The day after that; cue the undrafted free agents.

2016 Undrafted Free Agents

Every year it happens, right after the draft it is reported the Detroit Lions signed this or that undrafted player and later we learn that not all of them were in fact signed. This year some had the Lions at 11, some at 12 (yesterday and last night), but the real number, as of this afternoon, is 10.

The Lions also signed veteran linebacker Zaviar Gooden today. He's a former team captain of the Missouri Tigers and the Titans drafted him in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He suffered an injury last year and was put on IR, then released with an injury settlement. Normally when a team signs a player immediately after the draft that means that someone or more then one player they had hoped to draft was taken... in this case I'm not quite sure if that is what happened or not, as the info here is quite intriguing in it's own right. I'm glad the Lions have brought him in regardless, if he can stay healthy this could get interesting.

In that article you will see a chart called #RAS (or Relative Athletic Score). The creator of RAS is on twitter (I follow him) and he recently was brought in to work with PrideOfDetroit (a good hire if you ask me). I will be talking more on the RAS scores of players in upcoming blog entries (as well as this one) so to familiarize yourself with it here is a great article to read, perhaps even study, since it shows the RAS for all 10 of the Lions draft picks. The RAS is not the be all end all of talent eval, but it does help compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

Now if I didn't accidentally send all my readers off to another website instead of finishing here, let's see who the Lions signed after the draft. With the signing of LB Gooden today (see above) that brings the number of veterans on the team to 70 even. Add to that the 10 draft picks and you're at 80. The limit with draft picks included is 90, so 10 undrafted players can be signed by the Lions without cutting anyone. According to those 10 players are:

CB Adairius Barnes
WR Quinshad Davis
OT Chase Farris
TE Adam Fuehne
WR Jay Lee
DL James DeLoach
CB Charles Washington
CB Ian Wells
TE Cole Wick
OL Andrew Zeller

Teams have a maximum amount they can use as signing bonuses for undrafted players. $92,000 is what the Lions had to work with. So far I know the following amounts are a part of the contracts for those above:

WR Quinshad Davis got $3,000
TE Cole Wick got $10,000
OT Chase Farris got $10,000, plus $10,000 of his rookie minimum wage deal is guaranteed (yes, that's allowed)

There is more, I just don't know what at this point in time. I also found some RAS scores for these guys, OL Chase Farris was below average but OL Andrew Zeller is (pardon the pun) stellar!

TE Cole Wick is above average (again, this is all measurables, not film study or that kind of thing) while TE Adam Fuehne is below average

All 3 of the cornerbacks are above average (with Wells really up there):

WR Jay Lee is above average and WR Quinshad Davis is below

Finally there is one DL player from the UDFA ranks, who is also above average

But RAS does not mean a player will be good or will be bad. It's just measurements. However, unbeknownst to Kent Lee Platte a guy over at Rotoviz named Kevin Cole (premium site) did some work on measurements to see if he could determine which ones matter to what positions. I won't go into the two page explanation of his findings, but to summarize a couple, a Running Back with a Broad Jump of 124" or more (10' 4") and who's 40 yard dash time is under 4.5 AND who is 5' 10" tall or taller has a 78% chance of being successful in the NFL. Pretty good odds. Other positions had some things to look for to improve their odds of making it, none were as telling as running back though. Wide Receivers for example; a 3 cone under 7.0 with a 40 of under 4.5 and hands over 9" who weight 208 pounds or more have some better odds then others, and if they manage to weigh 218 pounds or more with the same numbers even better odds. Tight ends need a 40 time under 4.7 and a score of 20 or more at bench, plus a vertical of 34" or more and a broad jump of 110 inches (9'2") to improve their odds of success. You'll have to visit and sign up for more Kevin Cole information on his regression tree analysis and all his dynasty fantasy football stuff I'm afraid.

What does all this mean? Maybe nothing. Maybe a lot. It means I want to research further these undrafted guys... I will say that those with a positive RAS scores intrigue me already, and once I get the rest of the info on them they may intrigue me even more. TE Cole Wick is a hard one to get info on, being a super small school prospect, but this article is interesting (not sure yet if he's a poor mans Gronkowski or not, probably not due to his speed but we'll see how fast he plays) and I'm thinking that Guard Andrew Zeller will make the final roster for the Lions before camps even start. Why? teases us a little but unfortunately at present I am unable to find the info I read that got me excited about this signing so I can not share it at this time... I'll keep looking.

One side bar; the WR I was hoping the Lions would sign (or draft) was Mitch Mathews but alas it appears he signed with Kansas City. Keep an eye or ear out for him, in a few years we'll see if I'm right about him.

Okay, back to the Lions, I have 10 draft picks and 10 undrafted players to research, double and triple and quadruple check, then find a way to write about them all. Since I already provided a link to the RAS on the 10 picks and posted the RAS of the undrafteds here, I'll have to work on other information and that's going to take some time. I am thinking about researching one per day (over the next 20 days) and then showing how he might fit into the roster (using my estimated depth chart as a visual, once I have it updated that is). That's the plan for now at least, unless something changes it.

I'll leave you with this article on one of the WRs that went undrafted, does it help or hurt that he's a former teammate of Eric Ebron?

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