Preseason Preview: Undrafted Free Agents
The life of an undrafted free agent is much different from that of a drafted rookie. No long term contract, no picture with the executives, and no guaranteed roster spot. And for these young prospects, that’s all that matters -- a spot on the team.
It's not easy being an undrafted player no doubt, but history shows that talent will eventually prevail. Big names such Jeff Garcia, Kurt Warner, Priest Holmes, Rod Smith, and Marcus Pollard have all traveled this road of uncertainty. In fact, last year the Lions had 17 former undrafted free agents on their active roster.
This article will explore what the strength and weaknesses of each player, their progress through the offseason, and their chances of making the team.
Curt Anes - Quarterback
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 220 | 40-time: 5.2
Positives: No player dominated the division II level like Curt Anes did. Starting at quarterback for Grand Valley State since his freshman year, Anes has had an impressive career thus far. Very accurate arm, especially in his medium range game. Throws an easy ball to catch, nice spiral with good touch. Has a supreme feel for the pocket, very poised, feels pressure and adjust without leaving the pocket. Does a great job of selling fakes and not locking onto a target, looks off the linebackers and safeties very well and has a feel for where his receivers are at all times. Setup and release are fundamentally sound, very good short-mid range arm strength. Super productive in college.
Negatives: Size is a concern, gets a lot of balls batted down and has difficulty seeing the field in traffic. Although he uses good pocket adjustments, Anes isn’t very mobile and will have a difficult time trying to escape the pocket. Throws the ball sometimes when he isn’t set or ready. Big question on his long ball, lacks long range arm strength and touch.
Status: Anes has looked sharp so far but still he has only one chance of being a Lion, and that is the likely scenario of being released and signed to the practice squad, something Detroit would love to do.
Avon Cobourne - Running Back
Positives: Very tough runner, low base, and good leg drive. Very patient, anticipates and explodes to cutback lanes, excellent vision, finds ways to get around a pile. Decent agility allows him to juke defenders. Works well in traffic. Good footwork when near the sideline and good overall field awareness. Fights for every inch, reliable on short yardage situations. Very productive runner in college, excellent attitude.
Negatives: Very small runner, one of the smallest in the league. Speed is a major issue as well. Although he is most effective inside, Cobourne will have a very difficult time cutting the corner in the NFL. His lack of size and speed, combined with his sloppy receiving technique, make him a poor receiving option.
Status: Cobourne has looked good so far, but is caught up in a running back jam that might have him getting cut. Although the lions would like to sneak him on the practice squad, its very doubtful he would be able to clear waivers.
Jemeel Powell - Cornerback/Returner
Positives: Optimum size and bulk, uses his size and strength well, excels in press coverage. Extremely good at positioning himself when in coverage. Gets inside the receiver on a regular basis. Very fluid in his transition and footwork. Rarely gets burned on a deep ball. Matches up well against bigger receivers and positions himself well on jump balls. Fundamental, aggressive tackler. Excellent return man, displays great speed, quickness and vision. Returned a career long 90 yard punt against Michigan State his senior year. Playmaker on defense and special teams.
Negatives: Very susceptible to pump fakes and play action. Has a hard time shedding blocks and is a non factor in run support. Has a difficult time covering when backed off the line. Needs to be more aggressive in coverage, allows to many receivers to get behind him. Somewhat sloppy and out of control in zone coverage.
Status: Jemeel Powell has been the talk of the camp, he intercepted two passes and returned them for scores, defensed two other balls, this all in one session of camp. Needs technique work but has been a playmaker.
Reggie Holts - Fullback
Positives: Extremely powerful blocker, one of the top pure blocking fullbacks coming out of college. Good athlete who displays speed and quickness when blocking on sweep runs and excels at blocking downfield. Uses low base and leverage to jar linebackers and run defensive backs out of the play. Blocks very well on the run, "head hunter", loves to hit and is very aggressive.
Negatives: Non factor with the ball in his hands. Has not shown the ability to contribute as a receiver or when running the ball.
Status: The Lions hoped he could develop his game but so far he has shown little progress. Holts has dropped several balls and hasn't distinguished himself as a runner. He will probably be cut very soon, possibly after Saturday’s game against the Steelers.
Zach Wilson - Guard
Positives: Solid frame with good bulk and strength. Does a great job of using his hands and playing with leverage. Keeps defensive lineman off his body and uses his powerful legs to steer them wide in pass protection. Displays explosion out of his stance and into the opposing lineman’s body. Displays great awareness, always picks up a twist or stunt and adjust accordingly. Very reliable and consistent.
Negatives: Needs to improve his footwork, often takes too big of strides which gets him driven out of the play and tends to lunge at pass rushers when in space. Not an effective pass blocker mainly because of lack of athleticism and mobility. Works well in small space but becomes inefficient if asked to pull or block on the run.
Status: Is caught up in a log jam for a reserve guard spot but has failed to impress the coaches or make a name for himself. A long shot at best.
David Miller - Guard
Positives: Very fundamental run blocker, plays with leverage and drives defenders away from the point of attack. Quick and explosive out of his stance, sets up well when pass blocking. Takes a good angle to the linebackers and does a good job of sealing off his gap.
Negatives: Doesn’t use his hands well when pass blocking. Plays too upright which gets him drove back and also lets lineman get into his body easily. Isn’t athletic enough to be an effective pull blocker and isn’t effective in space.
Status: Much like Zach Wilson, Miller has failed to make a name for himself in camp and seems to be living on borrowed time.
Casey Fitzsimmons has an outside chance to also make it to the practice squad. He has been very fluid and finds the seams in the zone defense. Fitzsimmons has caught almost everything thrown his way. Although he still needs to improve his run blocking, Fitzsimmons has a good chance of making it to the practice squad. Scottie Vines has outlasted fellow undrafted wide receivers Todd Fry and Jermaine Lewis, but still has to prove himself if he wants a spot on the practice squad. Cornerback Gerald Dixon was re-signed back to the team on August 5th, but it is unlikely he will make an impact his 2nd time around with the team.
UDFA’s no longer with the team:
Disclaimer: Reports are the exclusive material of LionsFans.com staff writer Josh Turel. No other affiliations were used in this piece.