Two weeks ago, DCSportsFan previewed the prospects from the D.C. area who were likely to be drafted. In each case, getting drafted is secondary to catching on with a team and making their 53-man Week One roster.
Here is the situation each of our DMV alumni find themselves dropped into heading into mini-camps (which begin in roughly a week for most NFL teams) and the all-important training camp in the late summer.
Danny Coale, WR – Virginia Tech (Episcopal)
Cowboys Fifth Round (17)
Just as a certain DCSportsFan writer said previously, Coale’s versatility would play very well come draft time.
As the highest pick of the bunch, Coale also has the best chance to make the team, as Dallas has already invested something of some consequence – a fifth round selection – on him.
Obviously, they are not looking for Coale to start with stars like Dez Bryant and Miles Austin on the roster, but behind them, depth is notoriously weak.
With Laurant Robinson signing with the Jaguars, only Kevin Ogletree did much of anything to establish himself last year for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys didn’t draft any other wide receivers, but they brought in undrafted free agents Cole Beasley, Tim Benford, Saalim Hakim and Donavon Kemp.
Coale appears to be on the fast track to making the team, as a fourth or even third wide receiver option for Tony Romo.
Cam Johnson, DE – Virginia (Gonzaga)
49ers Seventh Round (30)
It’s been said that it’s almost worse to be drafted in the seventh round than to go undrafted, because if a prospect who many teams consider as strong goes undrafted, he may get multiple offers, where he can pick and choose which team is most likely to let him make the roster and potentially show other teams that they can play on the field. Why is that? Because sometimes the other option is to get drafted by the organization with arguably the best defense in the NFL, as Cam Johnson did when he was drafted by the 49ers in the seventh and final round.
First, Johnson slipped due to the concerns over his sickle cell trait, as he was projected as a fourth round pick, which is much higher than where he was picked. For him to make the team, he’ll need to show that he can rush the passer effectively, either as a defensive end or as an outside linebacker. As stated earlier, the talent is there for him to make the roster. At linebacker, he’ll also be going against draftee Darius Fleming, but it may not be a situation where only one of them makes the roster.
Rodney McLeod, FS – Virginia (DeMatha)
Rams FA signee
If anyone is wondering how McLeod ended up a Ram, look no further than his local ties. The Rams have a defensive quality control assistant by the name of Dennard Wilson. If that name rings a bell, that’s because Wilson graduated from DeMatha in 2000 before going to Maryland, so it’s safe to say he’s probably at least heard of McLeod before.
With the moves that the Rams have made in the offseason, if it was a favor to McLeod, it could well turn out empty for him. On the same day the Rams flipped their No. 2 overall pick to the Redskins, they also signed Pro Bowl CB Cortland Finnegan, but that was far from their last move to shore up the secondary.
The Rams drafted Janoris Jenkins in the second round out of N. Alabama and Trumaine Johnson in the third round out of Montana, so they can both likely be penciled into the roster.
With veteran FS Quentin Mikell returning, McLeod looks like he will be competing for the backup free safety spot vacated by James Butler, but it will be tough with such an influx of new talent to be sorted out.
Keep in mind, St. Louis defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is suspended for the entirety of this season, so there could be some upheaval on that side of the ball, but it’s unclear whether that would help McLeod or not.
Johnson Bademosi, FS – Stanford (Gonzaga)
Browns FA signee
Bademosi wowed scouts with his NFL Combine numbers, and it’s likely that he has the speed to play cornerback if that’s what Cleveland’s coaching staff sees for him. Obviously, that type of flexibility can help undrafted free agents, because (along with contributing on special teams) being able to lock down depth at two or more positions is a godsend to football coaches who only get 53 spots to work with.
The Browns, surprisingly enough, had the second-best pass defense in the NFL last season, so it’s probably safe to say they aren’t actively looking to replace anyone in their starting lineup. They drafted Trevin Wade in the seventh round as a cornerback, as well.
For a player like Bademosi, special teams will probably be where he needs to make his mark, using his 4.31-speed to fly down the field and take down the ballcarrier as soon as possible.
Antwon Bailey, RB – Syracuse (St. John’s)
Redskins FA signee
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan knows what he needs for running backs in his system better than anyone, so if he feels Bailey can play, he probably will.
The bad news for Bailey, however, is this looks like little more than a nod towards his local roots.
With Roy Helu, Evan Royster and fifth-round draft pick Alfred Morris on the roster and Tim Hightower in the mix for now, it will be tough for Bailey to make the roster.
With that being the case, it may well be that his best hope is to make the Redskins practice squad, which would mean he could then be claimed at any time by another NFL team and called up to the team.
Cameron Chism, CB – Maryland (Bishop McNamara)
Colts FA signee
Very few teams were as active this offseason as the Colts. They’ve only fired their head coach, general manager and vice chairman, released the face of the franchise in surefire Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning, and drafted the new face in No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck.
With all the turnover, that can bode well for undrafted free agents and other younger players, as the new coaching staff will feel little loyalty to players who were on the team beforehand. That’s probably necessary, seeing as the Colts owned the seventh-worst pass defense per passing attempt last season.
The Colts also released DB Melvin Bullitt and signed DB Tom Zbikowski this offseason, and drafted no defensive backs in the draft.
In all likelihood, he has to beat out fellow undrafted free agent defensive backs Antonio Fenelus, Buddy Jackson, Matt Merletti, Micah Pellerin and Deji Karim to make the team.