The 2018 draft is well and truly behind us now but not everyone gets the call that they’re waiting for. Some players unfortunately go undrafted, but all is not lost…
Some of the best players in league history have gone up from going undrafted to rising right to the top. This summer saw Antonio Gates leave the Chargers, a prime example of what can be, Gates is a lock to wear a gold jacket one day and be inducted to pro football’s Hall of Fame. He is also without question one of the greatest Chargers of all time.
The Chargers have a long and proud history of giving a chance to undrafted players and developing them into stars, so let’s have a look at who could be next…
Tony Brown, CB, Alabama
The tools have always been there for Tony Brown and even after a short time on the practice field, that was apparent to Chargers Head Coach, Anthony Lynn, who said Brown’s skill set was “off the charts”. Brown performed well at the Combine too, running a 4.35 second 40 yard dash and has the versatility to play either Corner or at Free Safety. Brown has a feisty and physical style of play, so could be ideal for a special teams role, which again, helps his quest for a roster spot.
When playing Corner, Brown is exclusively an inside guy but in the modern NFL, Nickel Corner is all but a starting position. The Chargers have a deep group of DB’s though, and therefore it’s going to be a competitive camp battle at the very least, only time will tell.
Zachary Crabtree, OT, Oklahoma State
Crabtree was a 5th year senior at Oklahoma State, who started 45 games for the Cowboys at Right Tackle. Crabtree was a key cog in a productive offense – Oklahoma State became the first offense in Big 12 history with a 4,000-yard passer (Mason Rudolph), a 1,000-yard rusher (Justice Hill) and two 1,000-yard receivers (James Washington and Marcell Ateman)
Crabtree is tall and lean with good weight distribution, has long arms and is regarded as a good leader by the coaches at Oklahoma State. He won the Vernon Grant Award which is awarded to the player who shows great leadership, spirit and enthusiasm.
Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech
The former Hokie has good size at 6’2″, 203lbs with arms that are a little short of 33 inches. He uses these attributes well, playing in a physical manner in coverage and also when tackling ball carriers. Additionally, he’s been very productive at Virginia Tech with 39 passes defended (Virginia Tech’s all time record), 5 interceptions and a forced fumble. Facyson is also well thought of by his coaches, regarded as mature and intelligent, with no off field concerns. The bad news? Two things; a long injury history and a 4.53 40 time which points to a lack of explosive athletic ability. Whilst speed helps as a defensive back, It’s not everything if you’re smart enough and work hard enough… two things that all UDFA’s have to be.
Steven Richardson, DT, Minnesota
Defensive Tackle is a position that could use some filling out on the Chargers’ roster. Corey Luiget is suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season and Brandon Mebane is getting up there in age. With this in mind, I feel Steven Richardson out of Minnesota could have a chance to make the team.
Richardson was a four year starter for the Golden Gophers and he had a productive career in Minnesota with 103 tackles, 29 for loss, and 12.5 sacks in his collegiate career. Add in 5 forced fumbles and 4 fumble recoveries and you’re looking at a player who affects the game in the trenches. Richardson wasn’t invited to Indianapolis for the scouting combine, but at Minnesota’s pro day he displayed his immense strength, throwing up 31 reps on the bench press. To go along with his strength he also plays with low pad level which makes up for his lack of height (he only stands at 5”11’).
Will Anyone Make It?
Given that the Chargers have such a fantastic record with undrafted free agents, I think someone will make it out of the 21 they signed, whether it will be any of these 4 guys remains to be seen…
If I was put on the spot and asked who has the best chance, I’d go for Richardson.
Richardson plays at a position of relative weakness for the Chargers and has shown he can be productive. The coaches have shown that they can develop talent at his position too; Darius Philon was a 6th round pick and will probably start in place of Corey Luiget in week 1. So maybe they will feel they can take another bit of clay and mold him.
Los Angeles certainly have a great D-Line coach in Giff Smith. So given time to develop, I feel optimistic about Richardson’s chances to eventually carve out a role should he make the roster or practice squad. Upon being given a chance by the Chargers, Richardson said, “All I needed was a door opened”. Well the door has been opened, now it’ll be interesting to see if he walks through it…
– Lee Wakefield is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the Los Angeles Chargers. Follow him on Twitter @Wakefield90