Biggest UDFA Surprises And Why They Fell

Photo: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Whether it's red flags, previous injuries or mystery causes, there are always some notable prospects who fall in the draft and ultimately hit the free-agent market.

Last season, quarterback Tyree Jackson was the headliner of all undrafted free agents. He eventually signed with the Bills but was waived during their final roster cuts; Jackson went on to play in the XFL before it suspended its operations.

This year, there were a few names that stood out in the UDFA pool. Here are some of the more surprising UDFA’s and a few of the reasons why they weren’t selected during the 2020 NFL Draft.

Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington

Injuries were the biggest reason for Hunter Bryant going undrafted. However, he was quickly signed by the Lions. 

As a true freshman at Washington, Bryant recorded 22 catches for 331 yards and two touchdowns in five starts; he played in nine games. He missed the final four games after suffering a left knee injury against UCLA in October 2017.

Bryant’s injury woes continued. He aggravated his previous injury during summer workouts in June 2018 and was forced into surgery after releasing he torn his ACL. Bryant was sidelined for the first nine games of the 2018 season. In the final nine contests, he recorded 11 catches for 238 yards and one touchdown.

During his final season, as a junior, Bryant tallied a career-high in catches (52) and led the team in receiving yards (825); he also had three touchdowns. Bryant became the second tight end in program history to record at least 50 catches in a single season.

J.R. Reed, S, Georgia

J.R. Reed led Georgia’s secondary, so it came as a surprise that he didn't hear his name on draft night — especially considering the NFL ties with his father, Jake Reed, a former wide receiver. 

Reed primarily strong safety. His leadership, instincts and savvy playstyle were his most dominating traits, but many teams didn't value him as highly. He shows a great deal of comfort around the box and when deployed as an extra box defender. He often comes in hot and with a purpose. 

Georgia’s coaching staff was unafraid of sending him on blitzes from all spots of the field. His aggressive nature led to many impactful plays even if his tackles-for-loss numbers were never high or increased. While he was inconsistent getting home, he had plenty of after-effects on plays when blitzing. Reed has a gangly frame that makes his body look much longer than his measurables indicate — thin arms and very slight lower body — but he’s an asset in pass coverage. Reed is able to use his length to his advantage when in tight pass coverage to condense windows and make throwing lanes difficult more challenging. 

Thaddeus Moss, TE, LSU

Thaddeus Moss was another prospect with strong NFL ties; he is the son of Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss.

Moss started his career at N.C. State and transferred to LSU shortly after. He had a breakout year as part of one of the most prolific single-season performances we have ever seen in college football.

Moss didn’t remain a UDFA for long. He landed in Washington and has a chance to prove himself on a roster that lacks high-end tight end talent. Moss’ best value comes as a run blocker, but he can provide a small spark as a receiving option in the underneath areas. 

He lacked explosiveness as a pass-catcher, and his minimal value as a receiver kept him undrafted. 

Moss has been presented with varying difficulty levels as a pass-catcher because of inadequate bend and pad level through his routes. Whether it’s from in-line positioning or flexed out, he has a habit of popping straight up prior to exploding out of his stance. He becomes an easy target for jam attempts at the line of scrimmage and for frequent collisions on the second level with defenders trying to knock him off course.

Moss was heavily involved in LSU’s rushing attack. From an in-line position, he showed to be very mature as a blocker and worked extremely hard to fire his hands inside to match with his hot feet upon contact. There are frequent reps of where he finishes the opposition into the ground. His blocking is reliable enough to be placed on the strong or weak side of runs. Moss is effective on both single and double teams and was a ready-made blocker the moment he steps on the field as a rookie.

Written By:

Jordan Reid

Senior NFL Draft Analyst

Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-Founder of Former QB and Coach at North Carolina Central Univ.