Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has been in charge of the team's personnel decisions "officially" since Jan. 2010. Over four seasons, Roseman has had varying degrees of success with the rookies he has acquired in the NFL Draft, but has always been able to find talent following the process. Twelve undrafted free agents have made the Eagles roster over the last four years, and while some may view that as a negative for the overall roster, some of those players have turned out to be quite talented.
Below are the undrafted free agents that have on the Eagles roster over the last four seasons:
|Year||Number of UDFAs||UDFAs on Final Roster|
|2010||1||OT Austin Howard|
|2011||2||DT Cedric Thornton, P Chas Henry|
|2012||4||TE Emil Igwenagu, LB Ryan Rau, OT Nate Menkin, RB Chris Polk|
|2013||5||RB Matthew Tucker, OT Matt Tobin, DT Damion Square, LB Jake Knott, S Keelan Johnson|
Of the players above, current starting defensive end Cedric Thornton has been the real breadwinner of the bunch. He started all 16 games last season for Billy Davis and is the best run-stopper on the team. One could argue that he was the MVP of the defense last year due to the unit's run-stopping success.
Along with Thornton, Chas Henry, Chris Polk and Jake Knott played active roles with the team during their short careers. Polk is likely to see a lot of snaps at running back this season and Knott is a favorite of the coaching staff. Matthew Tucker and Matt Tobin are both players to keep an eye on this offseason. Damion Square and Keelan Johnson also saw playing time during last season. Former Eagles offensive lineman Austin Howard is now a starting guard for the Raiders and started 32 games for the Jets over the last two seasons at right tackle.
You'll notice on the chart that over the last four years, the number of undrafted free agents to make the roster has gone up each season. However, for this year's crop of undrafted free agents, the battle to make the squad may be hard than ever. In fact, in BGN's post-minicamp roster prediction, both Brandon Gowton and myself negated putting any undrafted free agents on the roster.
The Eagles currently have 14 undrafted free agents on the roster after swapping Alabama's John Fulton for former IFL player Davon Morgan (who was on the Jets offseason roster in 2011). Of those 14 players, four are offensive linemen, two are tight ends, two are running backs, two are wide receivers and two are defensive linemen. There is also a kicker and a safety in the mix. The team has much more depth in all of those positions this season due to a solid free agency haul and the draft, so the rookie free agents are in for a serious challenge.
Of the 14 undrafted free agents, the offensive linemen and running backs may have the best shots at their positions' final spots. While the actual "draft class" has shown flashes during the early stages of offseason workouts, the undrafted players go into training camp with a lot of mystery surrounding them. However, if Roseman's history with the overlooked talent continues, at least one player will stick out in the group.