The 2023 NFL Draft is complete, and the crazy undrafted free-agent period is all but officially finished (see where all of the prospects ended up, .) What that means is -- it's time for undrafted free agent rankings. By now, everyone knows a handful of UDFAs ultimately make names for themselves.
Let's rank this year's class of UDFAs by talent, of course, and also situation, which for these players is absolutely critical.
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8. Eagles CBs Eli Ricks (Alabama) and Mekhi Garner (LSU)
Starting off with two throwback-y cornerbacks, both from the SEC who landed in Philadelphia with the entire Georgia Bulldogs program. I say throwback-y because Ricks and Garner are long, beat-you-up-at-the-line cornerbacks who don't exude twitch and speed but are always around the football in coverage.
Now, the lesser athletic profiles will put them behind the eight-ball in what's a decently crowded secondary. But James Bradberry has long been one of the lengthiest cornerbacks in football. There's clearly a place for that type of defensive back in Philadelphia's defense.
7. Jets WR Jason Brownlee (Southern Miss)
Brownlee is one of those lanky but super-springy leapers. His route-running didn't appear to be brutal on film. either, and he was increasingly productive at Southern Miss. In three seasons, he had 135 grabs with 21 touchdowns at close to 16 yards per reception. He actually reminded me a lot of Laquon Treadwell on film. The Jets certainly have some weaponry for Aaron Rodgers at receiver, but there's no telling which receiver Rodgers will jive with in his Jets tenure. And Browlee's back-shoulder/rebounding mastery is comparable to Allen Lazard's.
6. Giants WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton (West Virginia)
Ford-Wheaton had one of the best combinations of size and explosiveness in the entire class at the position; he's north of 6-foot-3 and 221 pounds with 4.38 speed. DK Metcalf-ian, really. Ford-Wheaton's hands are iffy, but not so iffy that he deserved to go undrafted. He is already 23, which doesn't help his perceived upside. Anyway, with the Giants, there really isn't a sizable, perimeter wideout who can stretch the field vertically on the roster. Yes, Isaiah Hodgins was a late-season gem of a find. But he will not threaten deep safeties with his speed. Ford-Wheaton absolutely can.
5. Cowboys WR Jalen Moreno-Cropper (Fresno State)
Moreno-Cropper ran 4.40 at a little over 5-foot-11 and 172 pounds. Given how many light wideouts there were in the class, I was surprised he went undrafted. He's a live wire in the open field, generating extra yardage with his lower-half juice and deceptive balance through weaker tackling attempts.
Now, Dallas certainly has a crowded receiver room. The addition of Brandin Cooks will make it more difficult for Moreno-Cropper to make the team. But he's actually a lot like Cooks when he entered the league out of Oregon State in 2014. Small, quick, explosive, and not fun to corral after the catch.
4. Browns EDGE Lonnie Phelps (Kansas)
Some prospects -- regardless of size, school, age, or anything else -- can just flat-out rush the passer. That's how I feel about Phelps. He's smaller, with shorter arms than what's considered ideal. He started at Kent State and finished at Kansas. All those facts are part of why he went undrafted. But in a critical moment, from a two-point stance in a clear passing situation, I trust Phelps to get a pressure more so than many of the edge rushers selected on Day 3 of the draft. I mean that.
3. Ravens RB Keaton Mitchell (East Carolina)
Mitchell really had no business going undrafted. I get he's a running back. But he's precisely the reason. Because super-talented ball-carriers like him are available later. As the clear-cut workhorse at East Carolina in 2022, the just over 5-foot-8, 179-pound Mitchell averaged more than 7.0 yards per carry on 201 totes. He repeatedly hit home runs. This type of runner is kinda-sorta missing in the Ravens always overflowing running back room, isn't it?
2. Panthers DT Jalen Redmond (Oklahoma)
Oklahoma's scheme is why Redmond went undrafted. OK, so I'm not positive that's the reason, but that's what I'll always tell myself. The Sooners simply didn't give Redmond free rein to rush upfield from the famed pass-rushing three-technique position nearly as much as they should have. He's an older prospect -- already 24 -- but was a force when given the opportunity to showcase his explosiveness, power, and calculated hand work over the past four years on the Sooners front.
1. Seahawks WR Matt Landers (Arkansas)
Landers deserved to be drafted. Point blank. He's nearly 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds. He rocked at Toledo in 2021 after transferring from Georgia -- where he initially made the team as a three-star recruit -- then led Arkansas in receiving yards this past season. Oh, and did I mention Landers ran 4.37 with a 10-foot-10 inch broad jump at the combine? 37-inch vertical, too. Landers has impressive wiggle to combat press at the line, and is a creative gazelle with awesome vision after the catch. He's going to make noise in the summer at Seahawks camp and the preseason.