The seven rounds are complete but due to the lockout everyone is sitting around on their hands, just waiting. We offer some recent news as to what may happen with the UDFA’s as well as why some players slipped. 5/17: An honest opinion on Da’Quan Bowers
-The opinions on Da’Quan Bowers remain wide and varied almost a month after the draft has ended. Published reports have some saying his career is already over and Bowers won’t play in the NFL- an opinion we don’t share. Sources from the Bowers camp gave us an honest assessment; its’ a 50-50 shot for the Clemson underclassman. If his knee responds as Shaun Rogers did, who had a similar procedure on his joint, Bowers will have a long career. Otherwise it could be a situation similar to Willie Howard, who spent two years in the league before his career was cut short by the same type of injury.
-Many, including ourselves, were surprised when North Carolina senior cornerback Kendric Burney went undrafted. Some based his drop on his pedestrian forty time at the combine in which Burney ran a hand time of 4.71-seconds. That’s part of the reason, though former SJSU corner Dwight Lowery was selected in the middle frames with similar speed. Lack of size was also an issue yet poor interviews at the combine loomed large in the decision by teams to stay away. Sources told us Burney came across as not admitting to, or seeing the wrong doing, of the violations which resulted in his six game suspension.
- We were equally surprised when Stefen Wisniewski was taken in the second round by the Raiders. Teams have openly said if the Raiders, who recently hired Stefen’s uncle, former All Pro Steve Wisniewski as the teams assistant offensive line coach, had not selected him in round two the Penn State senior would have slid into the fourth frame. The belief amongst most is nepotism was in play.
- Other major sports outlets are now picking up on the story we posted here and on twitter May 2nd; teams were speaking with agents and players about potentially signing them after the draft if they were not selected during the seven rounds after the lockout was reimposed. As we mentioned in our original report one team talked dollars and cents with an agent about a player, who was later chosen in the late rounds. What will become of this? Most we spoke with said nothing.
- The football world anxiously awaits the decision from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as to whether they will grant the owners a stay or lift the lockout. Most in the know told us the longer it takes for a decision to come down the more likely the court will not lift the lockout, especially with this same court setting a June 3rd date to expedite the overall matter. The longer the lockout looms the worse the situation gets for the undrafted players. Several sources have told us if the 8th Circuit Court rules in favor of the owners in the next few days, as many expect, it could deliver a death blow to all but the top UDFA’s on the market. The reasoning in simple and understandable; teams will eventually turn to players that had previously been in camp in the past or even seasoned veterans who they were going to, or had recently, cut ties with rather than invest the time in players that are basically foreigners to a franchise. The fact all the UDFA’s have missed several weeks of exposure to position coaches is critical, and the longer these players are locked out the less valuable they become.
- A three judge panel in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals St Louis is reviewing the NFL labor dispute today and most we spoke with expect a ruling sometime tomorrow. If the panel decides the lockout remains in effect not much is expected to happen. If the lockout is lifted numerous sources have told us the league could start signing undrafted free agents by Thursday or Friday of this week.
- We spoke with a half dozen agents who told us they and/or their players were contacted by NFL teams during the final day of the draft on Saturday, probing interest to sign specific players as undrafted free agents if they went unselected after the seven rounds were completed. In one instance the source told us a franchise spoke specific terms on the contract that would be offered once teams received the green light to sign undrafted players. In the other instances both players and agents were told teams would be calling once given the go-ahead by the league.
- Why did several high profile players slide out of the draft or unexpectedly slip into the late rounds? Seemingly it centers around one word at this point; injuries. Tackle Lee Ziemba and tight end Virgil Green were both red-flagged with injuries as were running back Derrick Locke and receiver Terrance Toliver. This harkens back to something we posted and stated in interviews after breaking the story of Nick Fairley’s injury during the combine; teams were going to be leery selecting injured players in the draft when they could not monitor them due to the lockout.