Brandt: 49 no-name prospects on the rise in 2014 NFL Draft

Over the last few weeks I've pointed to 30 prospects whom most casual fans might not recognize, but a handful of scouts and NFL teams definitely do after their pro days.

With a few exceptions, these are prospects who were not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, guys who might end up going undrafted but improved their chances of getting signed as free agents or possibly even as practice-squad players because they made an impression on teams.

Here's a position-by-position look at these prospects who helped their chances of being drafted, and certainly of making a roster. I've added 19 names this week, giving the list a total of 49 prospects, which is a significant number. As I've mentioned before, 49 undrafted free agents made 53-man NFL rosters last season.


Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Boyd (6-foot 3/4, 221 pounds) is the lone player on this list who was at the combine. He had an excellent pro day, and there's a lot of excitement over him right now. Even those who've seen him throughout his career would probably say it was one of the best days he's had. I'm not sure he's put himself in the second day, but definitely in the third day, and he could go as high as the fourth round.

Garrett Gilbert, QB, SMU
Gilbert (6-foot-3 7/8, 221 pounds) threw 88 passes on his pro day and showed off his accuracy by completing 87 of them. He's got good arm strength and probably moved himself up to be an early third-day pick, maybe even as high as late in the third round.

Casey Pachall, QB, TCU
Pachall (6-foot-3 1/2, 216 pounds) has very big hands (10 3/8 inches) and a strong arm, and he completed 67 of his 72 passes at his pro day workout. He also ran the 40 in a hand-timed 4.96 seconds. He's had injuries and some off-field problems, but I think he has upside and will be worth signing as a free agent.

Tyler Russell, QB, Mississippi State
Russell (6-foot-4 3/8, 227 pounds) had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and did not run or work out at his pro day. He has good athletic ability and is a candidate to change positions in the pros. I think he's worth a try at tight end.

Running backs

Zach Bauman, RB, Northern Arizona
If it's possible to have a running back this size play in the NFL, Bauman (5-foot-7 1/4, 194 pounds) will do it. He was a four-year-starter who made the all-conference team all four years. At his pro day, he ran the 40 in 4.50 seconds. He's likely to be a free agent.

Ryan Eppes, RB, South Florida
Eppes (6-foot-1 5/8, 232 pounds) is worth a look as a free agent based on his size, speed and strength. He posted a hand-timed 4.62-second 40 and had 26 strength lifts at his pro day.

Josh Harris, RB, Wake Forest
Harris (5-foot-9 7/8, 206 pounds) played very well against Army in September, rushing for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He's a good athlete who can catch and ran a hand-timed 4.46-second 40 and 35 1/2-inch vertical jump at his pro day.

Stephen Houston, RB, Indiana
Houston (5-foot-10 3/4, 225 pounds) has a good combination of size and speed. He ran a hand-timed 4.52 in the 40 at Indiana's pro day and looked really smooth and athletic in his drills. He also caught the ball really well.

Ray Neal, RB, Tennessee
Neal (5-foot-11 1/8, 220 pounds) is a big, strong running back with speed and good pass-catching ability. He ran a hand-timed 4.57-second 40-yard dash and had a 38-inch vertical jump.

Darrin Reaves, RB, UAB
Reaves (5-foot-6 7/8 209 pounds) is a small back with a lot of explosion, and he had good production in college. He posted a hand-timed 40 of 4.54 seconds at his pro day and will probably be a free agent.

Kedrick Rhodes, RB, West Alabama
Rhodes (5-foot-10 7/8, 203 pounds) is a special athlete. He posted a hand-timed 4.60-second 40, 39-inch vertical jump, 6.70-second three-cone drill and 22 reps in the bench press. He's worth a try as a free agent.

Zurlon Tipton, RB, Central Michigan
Tipton (5-foot-11 3/4, 223 pounds) was very productive at Central Michigan. His 40 was hand-timed at 4.70, but he has outstanding quickness, which is the most important trait in a running back. He's likely to be a free agent but could move up into the seventh round.

Karl Williams, RB, Utah
Williams (5-foot-11 3/4, 244 pounds) played fullback in 2011-12 before moving to running back last season. He's a big, athletic player who can catch, and he ran the 40-yard dash in a hand-timed 4.50 seconds.

Wide receivers

Geraldo Boldewijn and Aaron Burks, WRs, Boise State
Burks (6-foot-2 7/8 203 pounds) is probably the better of these two Boise State receivers. They're both big, tall targets (Boldewijn is 6-foot-3, 215 pounds) who weren't used a lot last year because Boise State didn't pass very much. Both have pretty good speed: Boldewijn ran the 40 in a hand-timed 4.56, and Burks ran it in 4.48. In a really deep wide receiver class, I expect both to be free agents.

Greg Hardin, WR, North Dakota
Hardin (5-foot-10 1/8, 171 pounds) has athletic ability and ran the 40 in a hand-timed 4.44 seconds, but he might lack the necessary weight to play in the NFL. He should be a free agent.

Micah Hatfield, WR, Oregon State
Hatfield (6-foot-1, 182 pounds) is a big, fast, athletic receiver who didn't play a lot at Oregon State. The question is, why not? At his pro day, he ran the 40 in a hand-timed 4.44 seconds and had fast times in the shuttle and three-cone drills. He also posted a 38-inch vertical.

Nathan Slaughter, WR/KR, West Texas A&M
Slaughter (5-foot-8 7/8, 184 pounds) is another special athlete who posted great numbers at his pro day, including a hand-timed 4.34-second 40, a 44 1/2-inch vertical and an 11-foot-6 broad jump. He has the ability to be an exciting return man.

Eric Ward, WR, Texas Tech
Ward (5-foot-11 1/2, 205 pounds) has very good hands and is capable of making the tough catch. He ran a hand-timed 4.66-second 40 at his pro day, but will he run better at 195 pounds?

Tight ends

Rashaun Allen, TE, Southern
Allen (6-foot-4 3/4, 250 pounds) is a big target who looked very good at his pro day, especially catching the ball. He also showed good speed, running the 40 in a hand-timed 4.68 seconds. He has a chance to be a third-day pick.

Offensive linemen

Trey Hopkins, OL, Texas
Hopkins (6-foot-2 3/4, 307 pounds) is a strong lineman who threw the bar up 28 times, which is impressive, considering he has 35-inch arms. He also posted a hand-timed 5.24-secodn 40.

David Hurd, OT, Arkansas
Hurd (6-foot-5 7/8, 308 pounds) reminds me a lot of LaAdrian Waddle, an undrafted free agent from Texas Tech last year who ended up starting for the Detroit Lions. He's got good size and very long arms, which is imperative for an offensive tackle.

Zac Kerin, OL, Toledo
Kerin (6-foot-4, 310 pounds) has good size for an offensive lineman and is very strong. He ran a hand-timed 5.3-second 40-yard dash.

Andrew Norwell, OL, Ohio State
Norwell (6-foot-5 3/4, 315 pounds) was a starter on a very good Ohio State team. He has long arms (33 5/8 inches) but needs to get stronger and will. I think he'll be a seventh-round pick or priority free agent.

John Ulrick, OL, Georgia State
Ulrick (6-foot-5 7/8, 294 pounds) is an athletic lineman with long arms. He ran a hand-timed 5.02-second 40. He's visited with the Seahawks and Dolphins and could be brought in as a practice-squad player to develop.

Defensive linemen

Beau Allen, DL, Wisconsin
Allen (6-foot-2 1/2, 329 pounds) did not run the 40-yard dash, but he had a very good 10-yard time of 1.68 seconds. He's a good athlete who might be better as an offensive lineman.

Levi Brown, DL, Temple
Brown (6-foot-2 1/8, 312 pounds) has received calls from a few teams but has not had any scheduled workouts or visits. It sounds like teams would like to sign him as a free agent. He is a very strong player, as he showed when he put up 33 bench-press reps at his pro day.

Rakim Cox, DL, Villanova
Cox (6-foot-3 3/4, 266 pounds) might be able to play linebacker if he loses weight; he worked out as a hand-in-the-ground defensive end and in space as a linebacker at his pro day. He moves well, including a hand-timed 4.93-second 40 and a 7.14-second three-cone drill, and has good strength.

Andru Pulu, DL, Eastern Washington
Pulu (6-foot-1 3/8, 322 pounds) was unable to work out at his school's pro day, but worked out recently in the greater Seattle area. He's a little short for a defensive tackle but is very explosive. He ran the 40 in a hand-timed 5.15 seconds and should be a free agent.

Tavita Woodward, DL, Hawaii
Woodward (6-foot-3 3/8, 250 pounds) is a defensive lineman, but his best chance to make it in the NFL is as a 3-4 linebacker. He worked out at Hawaii's pro day in Carson, Calif., and ran the 40 in a hand-timed 4.70 seconds.

D.J. Yendrey, DL, Texas State
Yendrey (6-foot-2 3/4, 276 pounds) transferred to Texas State from TCU. He's strong, posting 29 bench-press reps at his pro day, and has good quickness for his position, posting a hand-timed 4.79-second 40. However, he needs to add weight to stick at his position.


Nate Askew, LB, Texas A&M
Askew (6-foot-3 3/8, 241 pounds) is a good athlete who has played the position just one year. He ran the 40 in a hand-timed 4.46 seconds. He should get a shot as a practice-squad player.

Denicos Allen, LB, Michigan State
Allen (5-foot-10 1/4, 225 pounds) ran a hand-timed 4.74-second 40 and had 26 bench-press reps at his pro day. He played linebacker in college, but I think he has a chance to be a great special teams player as a pro. He'll be a seventh-rounder or a priority free agent.

Glenn Carson, LB, Penn State
You have to take a look at players like Carson (6-foot-2 5/8, 238) who started at a big school. At Penn State's pro day, he ran a hand-timed 4.75-second 40 and had a 35-inch vertical and 30 bench-press reps. He has a chance to be a sixth- or seventh-round pick.

Brock Coyle, LB, Montana
Coyle (6-foot 3/4, 235 pounds) is a great example of a player who continued to work hard after the season in the hopes of getting noticed at his pro day. He lives in Montana but went to train with a workout guru in Florida, and it paid off. He had much better athletic ability and speed than people expected, including a 40-yard dash in 4.60 seconds. He'll probably be a third-day pick and could be a fourth-rounder.

Aaron Hill, LB, Minnesota
Hill (6-foot 5/8, 231 pounds) has good speed and is a top-flight competitor, which should make him a very good special teams player. He ran the 40 in a hand-timed 4.73 seconds and threw up the bar 21 times at his pro day. He's most likely a priority free agent.

Ryan Jones, LB, Montana Tech
Jones (6-foot-3 1/4, 249 pounds) is a small-college player who showed off his speed, athletic ability and strength at his pro day. He posted a hand-timed 4.68-second 40, a 34-inch vertical, a 6.95-second three-cone drill and 28 bench-press reps.

Tani Maka, LB, UNLV
Maka (6-foot 1/8, 243 pounds) is a very strong linebacker who ran the 40 in a hand-timed 4.81 seconds at his pro day and performed 24 strength lifts. The question with him is if he can play all downs. Still, he'll be a good free agent for camp with a chance to make it onto a roster.

Zach Orr, LB, North Texas
Orr (5-foot-11 7/8, 237 pounds) has good bloodlines (his dad played in the NFL) and is a very tough player, one of those hard-to-run-off types.


Brooks: Best fits for top prospects

In advance of the 2014 NFL Draft, Bucky Brooks is examining potential landing spots for high-profile players in this class. **READ**

Kenneth Acker, CB, SMU
Every year a defensive back from SMU makes a roster, and Acker (5-foot-11 5/8, 190 pounds) is as good as any who have been there in previous years. He had a strong pro day, with a hand-timed 4.50-second 40, a 36-inch vertical and a 6.94 three-cone drill. He'll be a seventh-rounder or a priority free agent.

Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
There were 20-plus teams at Liberty's pro day, and they were all there to get a better look at Aikens (6-foot 5/8, 203 pounds). He's got the size everyone is looking for at corner and has pretty good speed, running the 40 in a hand-timed 4.49 seconds. I think he's got a good chance to be drafted in the third day.

Demetri Goodson, CB, Baylor
Goodson (5-foot-11, 197 pounds) has good height for a corner and looked very strong in man-coverage drills at his pro day. He ran the 40 in a hand-timed 4.53 seconds, and I think he's a possible third-day pick.

Torin Harris, CB, USC
Harris (5-foot-11 5/8, 189 pounds) ran the 40 in a hand-timed 4.46 seconds and the three-cone drill in 6.96 seconds at USC's pro day. Those numbers, along with his height, are solid for his position. He also posted a good vertical and broad jump. Harris will probably be a free agent.

Desmond Jackson, CB, Tarleton State
Jackson (5-foot-11 3/8, 182 pounds) had a very good pro day, showing off good cover skills in his drills as well as his athleticism, including a hand-timed 4.48-second 40-yard dash.

Sean Parker, DB, Washington
Parker (5-foot-9 3/4, 190 pounds) ran a hand-timed 4.80-second 40 at his pro day, so the question with him is whether his athletic ability can make up for his lack of speed. I think he's worth signing as a free agent to find out.

Pierre Warren, CB, Jacksonville State
Warren (6-foot 1/4, 194 pounds) was moved to safety after starting out as a cornerback. He's got good speed (hand-timed 4.59-second 40) and good instincts for the position.

Marcus Williams, CB, North Dakota State
Williams (5-foot-11, 196 pounds) has good height for a cornerback and has been well coached. He posted a hand-timed 4.57-second 40 and a 35-inch vertical at his pro day.


Lonnie Ballentine, FS, Memphis
Ballentine (6-foot-3, 219 pounds) ran the 40 twice at his pro day and posted times of 4.39 and 4.45 seconds (hand-timed). He also posted a vertical jump of 38 inches. He played all four years in college, but is a very young player -- he turns 21 Wednesday -- playing a new position at free safety. I expect him to be a sixth- or seventh-round pick.


Andrew Furney, K, Washington State
Kurney (5-foot-10, 210 pounds) didn't run or jump at his pro day, but he showed off the tremendous power in his leg by making several field goals of 60-plus yards. He also showed good accuracy. He could be a priority free agent after the draft.

Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter @Gil_Brandt.

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