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As the NFL Lockout Continues, the Undrafted Rookie Market Begins to Thin

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It's certainly not easy being an undrafted rookie in a lockout year. With NFL teams forbidden to even talk to their current players, much less prospective players, college prospects who weren't selected during the 2011 NFL Draft are left in limbo.

The situation appears to be wearing on players like offensive linemen J'Michael Deane of Michigan State and John Bender of Nevada, both of whom have recently signed contracts with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL.

The UFL has had its fair share of new recruits as well, sending Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson to the Hartford Colonials with the first overall pick in the UFL Draft. In an interview with Fox Houston last week, Johnson pointed to the NFL Lockout as the primary factor in his decision to go with the UFL:

"When you don’t get drafted teams now start recruiting you to come in as a free agent. And you can sit down and look at depth charts or offenses or a situation that fits you personally. And with the lockout that opportunity didn’t present itself."

However, many holdouts still exist, the most noteworthy being Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich. Despite being drafted by the Omaha Nighthawks, he has told SI's Peter King that he plans to wait for his chance in the NFL.

Still the Eagles, who have been successful with undrafted rookies in the past, had better hope that the lockout is lifted soon, or they'll be left with pretty slim pickings. The longer the NFL's legal battle drags on, the more organizations like the UFL and CFL are going to pressure the undrafted rookies to take their chances in alternate leagues.

Of course, Kentucky running back Derrick Locke will always be there for the taking since his Twitter response to being drafted by the UFL was: "I'm not going to that shit."