It happens every year: Productive, well-known college players go undrafted, causing college fans to wonder what happened between the end of the season and the end of the draft.
Today, we're here to celebrate those who had stellar college careers -- including being Heisman finalists and first- and second-team All-Americans -- but still went undrafted.
This is not a list of the supposed "top prospects" who weren't drafted, though a handful of guys on this list likely expected to go on the second day of the draft. Instead, it's a team of players who performed at a high level on the field for two or three or even four seasons. Most of these guys knew they weren't considered elite prospects, but almost all probably thought -- given their production (in some cases, extraordinary production) -- they would be drafted at some point during the seven-round affair. Alas, they are left to sign with teams as undrafted free agents.
So one final salute for the guys on the NFL.com All-Undrafted Team.
QB: Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
The buzz: Although Lynch appears likely to make a position switch in the pros -- he is listed as a running back by the Chicago Bears, whom he signed with Saturday -- he was one of the most productive college quarterbacks of all-time and was third in the Heisman voting in 2013, when he was named a first-team Associated Press All-American as an all-purpose player. But he also is a 6-foot, 217-pound, run-first quarterback with a mediocre arm, which overshadows all the stats. And there were a lot of stats. He became just the fifth quarterback in NCAA history with 20 rushing and 20 passing TDs in a season in 2013, when he rushed for a quarterback-record 1,920 yards. In his two seasons as a starter, he rushed for 3,735 yards and 42 TDs and threw for another 6,030 yards and 49 TDs.
Status: Lynch signed with the Chicago Bears.
RB: Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky
The buzz: Andrews (5-10, 225) was as productive a running back as there was the past two seasons, rushing for a combined 3,463 yards and 27 TDs; he also had a combined 78 receptions, for 910 yards and three TDs. So what gives? He had fumbling issues, wasn't good in pass protection and lacks speed and quickness; he ran a 4.82 40-yard dash at the combine). No one questions his toughness, but there was concern that he would not be able to produce running between the tackles because of his lack of explosiveness.
Status: Andrews signed with the Tennessee Titans.
RB: Henry Josey, Missouri
The buzz: Josey was a two-time 1,000-yard rusher for the Tigers; he rushed for 1,164 yards and 16 TDs in 2013, when the Tigers were in the SEC, and 1,168 yards and nine TDs in 2011, when the Tigers were in the Big 12. He averaged a combined 7.3 yards per carry in those two seasons. But he lacks ideal size (5-8, 194), and his durability is a question. In addition, he suffered a severe knee injury late in 2011 that caused him to miss the 2012 season. His receiving ability (24 career receptions) is a question, too, and he must become a better blocker.
Status: Josey signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
WR: Cody Hoffman, BYU
The buzz: He has excellent size (6-4, 223) and was an ultra-productive four-year starter for the Cougars, finishing his career with school records in receptions (260), receiving yards (3,612) and receiving TDs (33). He burned Wisconsin's secondary to the tune of seven catches for 113 yards and two TDs in 2013. His dad, Derrick Ramsey, was an NFL tight end after playing quarterback at Kentucky. But despite all that production, he lacks speed, physicality and athleticism. He especially has trouble getting off press-man coverage, and his route-running must become more precise.
Status: Hoffman signed with the Washington Redskins.
WR: Chandler Jones, San Jose State
The buzz: He was a three-year starter for the Spartans who finished his career with 248 catches (a school record) for 3,089 yards and 29 TDs. He also developed into a legitimate deep threat as a senior working with QB David Fales, as he averaged 17.2 yards per catch and had 13 catches covering at least 30 yards and four covering at least 60 (tied for second-most nationally, per cfbstats.com). But he's a small receiver (5-9, 180) who lacks speed and isn't all that physical.
Status: Jones signed with the Cleveland Browns.
TE: Gator Hoskins, Marshall
The buzz: Hoskins (6-2, 242) had 15 TDs on 50 receptions in 2013 and 30 touchdowns on 99 career receptions. That means a bit more than 30 percent of his career receptions resulted in scores. Along with lining up at the normal tight end spot and at fullback in 2013, he spent time split wide and in the slot for the Herd. And he can get deep: He averaged 16.4 yards per catch on his 50 receptions in 2013. But he is a mediocre blocker, and his lack of size means he would have to be converted to an H-back or even a pass-catching fullback in the NFL.
Status: Hoskins signed with the Miami Dolphins.
OT: James Hurst, North Carolina
The buzz: Hurst (6-5, 296) was a consensus national top-50 product out of high school near Indianapolis and was a four-year starter (he never redshirted) at left tackle for the Tar Heels. He was a two-time first-team All-ACC pick and a freshman All-American in 2010. But he lacks quickness and agility. In addition, he suffered a broken left fibula against Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl.
Status: Hurst signed with the Baltimore Ravens.
OT: Evan Finkenberg, Arizona State
The buzz: He was a four-year starter for the Sun Devils and played tackle and guard; he also was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2013. But he is a good example of a solid college starter in a big-time program who doesn't project well to the NFL. His size (6-4, 297) isn't ideal for tackle, he's not that athletic or fluid, and he might not be physical enough to play guard.
Status: Finkenberg signed with the Miami Dolphins.
G: Ryan Groy, Wisconsin
The buzz: Groy (6-5/316) was a two-year starter at guard for the physical, aggressive Badgers and was a first-team All-Big Ten pick and a third-team All-America selection in 2013. He also started games at tackle and fullback (seriously, he started twice at fullback) during his career. But he is far from a technician, and he admitted after his junior season that his athleticism helped him overcome technique issues. His inconsistency seemingly was his downfall when it came to his draft stock.
Status: Groy signed with the Chicago Bears.
G: Anthony Steen, Alabama
The buzz: Steen (6-3, 314) was a three-year starter on the Tide's physical offensive line. He is a mauler in the running game and consistent in pass protection. But he suffered a torn left labrum that kept him out of the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma, and he missed the Reese's Senior Bowl and the workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine. He also had the smallest hands and shortest arms of any offensive lineman at the combine, and that did not help his draft status.
Status: Steen signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
C: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
The buzz: Ikard (6-4, 304) was a four-year starter for the Sooners, including a good portion of the 2010 and 2011 seasons at guard. He was a three-time first-team All-Big 12 honoree and was a first-team All-American in some circles in 2013, when he also was a finalist for the Campbell Award, the academic version of the Heisman. Alas, he is not all that athletic or strong. He is the ultimate "the sum is better than the parts" kind of player.
Status: Ikard signed with the Tennessee Titans.
DE: Shaquil Barrett, Colorado State
The buzz: Barrett (6-1, 260) had 12 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss in 2013, when he was the Mountain West defensive player of the year. Barrett finished his three-year career at Colorado State (he began his college career at Nebraska-Omaha, which dropped football after his freshman season) with 246 tackles, 18 sacks, 32.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, seven forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. Barrett played middle linebacker in 2011, then moved to end in 2012 and 2013. He also has an inspiring back story: He went to high school at Boys Town in Omaha, Neb., to escape a rough neighborhood in Baltimore. But he lacks quickness and height, and if he moves to outside linebacker, dropping into coverage will be a problem.
Status: Barrett signed with the Denver Broncos.
DT: Anthony Johnson, LSU
The buzz: Johnson (6-2, 308) was a second-team All-SEC pick in 2013 as a junior, when he had three sacks and nine tackles for loss, then turned pro. But there are concerns about his intensity, and while coaches raved about his athleticism, he didn't test all that well at the combine. At his best, he can be a dominating tackle; too often, though, he's not at his best.
Status: Johnson signed with the Miami Dolphins.
DT: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
The buzz: Quarles (6-4, 297) turned pro early after a junior season in which he was a first-team All-SEC selection and a second-team All-American; he had 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss in 2013. But there are some character concerns, and numerous scouts believed he benefited from all the attention paid to teammate Jadeveon Clowney. Quarles isn't overly athletic and had trouble shedding double teams. He also had trouble maintaining a low pad level.
Status: Quarles signed with the New York Giants.
DE: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
The buzz: Jeffcoat (6-3, 247) was the Big 12 defensive player of the year in 2013, when he had 86 tackles, 13 sacks, 22 tackles for loss and 19 quarterback pressures. He also was a first-team All-American in 2013. He was a three-year starter for the Longhorns and finished his career with 27.5 sacks and 60 tackles for loss. He also has great bloodlines -- his dad, Jim, was a longtime NFL defensive end. But his size makes him a 'tweener. In addition, he has an injury history, is not all that physical or strong and never truly has shown he can stop the run.
Status: Jeffcoat signed with the Seattle Seahawks.
LB: Denicos Allen, Michigan State
The buzz: Allen is a tough playmaker who was a key component of the nation's No. 1 defense by total yards in 2013. Allen, a three-year starter, led the Spartans with 98 tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss in 2013, when he was a third-team All-American, and finished his career with 46 tackles for loss and 19.5 sacks. But his size (5-10, 225 pounds) was a huge buzzkill to NFL scouts. He also is not all that athletic. What he is, though, is a physical guy with excellent instincts who understands the game.
Status: Allen signed with the Carolina Panthers.
LB: James Morris, Iowa
The buzz: Morris (6-1/241) was a four-year starter for the Hawkeyes who finished his career with 400 tackles, 33 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, six interceptions, 12 pass breakups and three forced fumbles. He is known, especially, for his work against the run and was a second-team All-Big Ten pick in 2013. Alas, he is slow (4.8 in the 40), and that hurt him. Iowa had three starting senior linebackers in 2013, and Morris -- though he was more productive throughout his career -- was the only one not selected.
Status: Morris signed with the New England Patriots.
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LB: Shayne Skov, Stanford
The buzz: Skov (6-2, 245) was both an emotional and physical leader for a tough Stanford defense. He plays with a mean streak and is a big hitter who led Stanford with 109 tackles in 2013, when he was a third-team All-America pick. He had 39 tackles for loss in his career and was an effective blitzer from his inside linebacker position in Stanford's 3-4. But he had a horrific injury in 2011, tearing his ACL and his MCL. He also broke his left leg, and there are some who think he never fully recovered despite his production in 2013. He never was all that fast, relying more on instincts and a high football IQ than speed, and had slow 40 times (over 5.0 seconds) in the pre-draft process.
Status: Skov signed with the San Francisco 49ers.
CB: Ciante Evans, Nebraska
The buzz: Evans, not fellow Husker Stanley Jean-Baptiste, was a first-team All-Big Ten pick in 2013. Evans also was a first-team all-league selection in 2012 and was a three-year starter for Nebraska (Jean-Baptiste, who went in the second round, started just one season). But Evans' size (5-10, 193) bothered some teams, as did his lack of speed. His ball skills also are questionable.
Status: Evans remained unsigned through Tuesday.
CB: Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State
The buzz: He was a three-year starter at Oregon State and was a second-team All-Pac-12 pick in 2013, when he led the league and was tied for seventh nationally with six interceptions; he had 10 interceptions and 25 pass breakups in his career. Reynolds made 204 tackles in his three seasons as a starter. He also has excellent quickness and was a member of Oregon State's track team. But he isn't all that physical for his size (5-10, 189), and while he is quick, some teams worried about his top-end speed.
Status: Reynolds signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
FS: Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State
The buzz: Zimmerman (6-1, 202) is a heady player who was a four-year starter for the Wildcats. He was a first-team All-Big 12 pick in both 2012 and 2013 and also was a two-time third-team All-America selection. He had 13 interceptions and 257 tackles in his career and was known for his ability in run support. But Zimmerman had labrum surgery and missed the combine and also K-State's pro day; he also is considered a half-step slow.
Status: Zimmerman signed with the New Orleans Saints.
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SS: Dion Bailey, USC
The buzz: He was a highly productive player in his three seasons with the Trojans -- but he also was a man without a true position because of his size (6-0/201). He started at linebacker in his first two seasons, then moved to strong safety as a junior in 2013. He runs well (4.66 seconds in the 40 at the combine) for a linebacker, but he's too small for that position. He has good size for a safety but is a half-step slow for that position. For his career, he had 223 tackles and 11 interceptions, including five in 2013.
Status: Bailey signed with the Seattle Seahawks.
K: Chris Boswell, Rice
The buzz: Two kickers were drafted, but this guy wasn't? His right leg doubles as a howitzer: He nailed 13 50-yard-plus field goals in his career, and in his final two seasons with the Owls, 106 of his 159 kickoffs were touchbacks. He made 65 field goals in his Owls career, so 20 percent of them came from at least 50 yards.
Status: Boswell signed with the Houston Texans.
P: Tom Hornsey, Memphis
The buzz: Only one punter was taken in the draft. It wasn't Hornsey, a native of Australia who was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award as the nation's best punter after averaging 45.2 yards per attempt. And he was a busy man during his Memphis career, punting 297 times and averaging 43.1 yards per boot. He had never participated in a game of American football until his first game as a freshman at Memphis in 2010.
Status: Hornsey remained unsigned through Tuesday.
KR/PR: Brelan Chancellor, North Texas
The buzz: He served as North Texas' kickoff return for four seasons, with three TD returns; he also was the Mean Green's main punt returner in 2013, when he averaged 16.1 yards on 24 returns and took one back for a score, and was a three-year starter at wide receiver. His size (5-9/188) was an issue, but he has a 41-inch vertical jump and is extremely elusive.
Status: Chancellor signed with the San Diego Chargers.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.