Senior Bowl  


Labor situation could profoundly impact undrafted rookies

Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press
Sam Shields went undrafted in April, but has been a major contributor to the Packers' Super Bowl run.

MOBILE, Ala. -- The labor strife between the NFL and NFLPA seems to raise a new scenario every day, most of course, stemming around if no agreement is reached by the deadline of March 4.

One of the more interesting topics of discussions among scouts and coaches at Senior Bowl practices this week is the effect that a lockout/work stoppage would have on signing undrafted rookies. If there is no collective bargaining agreement in place following the draft, the scramble to sign players who weren't drafted won't exist because no free agents can be signed with no labor rules in place.

Senior Bowl on NFL Network:
On Saturday, Jan. 29, top senior college football players compete in front of NFL talent evaluators at the 2011 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Coverage begins on NFL Network at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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This is a much bigger issue than it might seem. All we have to do is look around the NFL to verify how important undrafted players are and see the impact they can have. Packers defensive backs Tramon Williams and rookie Sam Shields went undrafted and they've been crucial during the playoff run, combining for five interceptions. Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison went undrafted in 2002. Tampa Bay running back LeGarrette Blount had a strong rookie season in 2010 after going undrafted out of Oregon.

As the scouts and coaches went about surveying the talent at the Senior Bowl, they know the reality is that several of the players p