NFL Preseason Standouts: UDFAs
Though they don’t always capture the hype of early draft picks, the NFL is largely made up of undrafted free agents. These under-the-radar prospects can bring competition to a position group that needs a boost and can often be the difference between a good and great team.
Several undrafted free agents impressed us in Week 1 of the preseason. Here are three players that particularly stood out.
Jaret Patterson, RB, Washington Football Team
An underrated commodity heading into the draft, Patterson had the greatest season by a running back in Buffalo history when he ran for 1,799 yards and 19 touchdowns during the 2019 campaign. His impressive resume wasn’t enough to get him drafted, but he was quickly scooped up by the Washington Football Team after the seventh round came to an end.
“I’ve always told people it doesn’t matter how you get there, it’s what you do once you get there,” Patterson said in an exclusive interview with TDN back in March. It’s early, but Patterson is already practicing what he preaches.
In his first preseason game, he totaled a team-best 70 total yards on 14 touches. Patterson ran the ball 10 times and converted all four of his targets in the passing game into receptions. It was the type of stat-stuffing effort we became accustomed to seeing from him at Buffalo.
With players like Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic, and Peyton Barber also on the roster, it won’t be easy for Patterson to crack the team, but he’s going to make this a very difficult decision for Ron Rivera (who has already sung his praises, by the way) and Co.
Darius Hodge, EDGE, Cincinnati Bengals
Another player who didn’t get enough attention during the 2021 draft process, Hodge regularly terrorized C-USA defenses during his final two years at Marshall. The 6-foot-1, 245-pound Hodge totaled 15.5 sacks in three seasons as a member of the Thundering Herd and ultimately landed with the Bengals at the conclusion of the draft.
Hodge was credited with 1.5 sacks and five quarterback hits in his NFL debut, a 19-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hodge was playing against reserve players on the Buccaneers’ offensive line, but his efforts were still eye-opening. The Buccaneers had no answer for the array of moves he regularly showcased while rushing the passer. We can’t wait to watch him try to carry that momentum over with him into the Bengals’ Week 2 matchup against Washington.
Trey Ragas, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
Our second running back to make the list, Regas impressed in his Vegas debut by accumulating 82 yards on 16 total touches, good for an average of 5.1 yards per touch. Ragas opened the scoring with a first-quarter touchdown and never looked back. The Seattle Seahawks’ defense simply had no answer for him and his bruising style on Saturday night.
At Louisiana, Ragas was a punishing runner who carried the ball with excellent contact balance. Ragas was consistently an impact player for the Ragin’ Cajuns. He ran for an astounding 3,572 yards in four seasons while often sharing touches in the backfield.
The Raiders are loaded at running back with Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake, and there are others in the mix (fellow UDFA running back B.J. Emmons has also been impressive) that will make touches tough to come by. Whether Ragas makes the Raiders’ roster or is auditioning for a role elsewhere, he has the look of a back that will survive in the NFL.
- Aug 10, 2022
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