I feel bad for the undrafted players, prospects that spent an entire weekend watching their peers selected by teams with far more certainty for their future. Drafted players know that they'll have a team when the lockout is lifted. They'll sign a contract and, at the very least, compete for a spot on the roster or someone's practice squad.
Undrafted prospects have to patiently sit around and wait for the league year to begin. And then they have to hope there is enough interest from a team to sign them. In the meantime, undrafted prospects have the unenviable task of sitting around (actually they're probably working out twice as hard), hoping the league year begins rather soon.
Who are some of the undrafted prospects that the Bengals could sign once the new league year begins?
Safety Joe Lefeged has 4.4 speed (at the combine) and posted 238 tackles, eight forced fumbles and played well on special teams at Rutgers. Deandre McDaniel, a strong safety out of Clemson, posted four interceptions. However, the knock against him is that he lacks top-end speed and "has trouble in man coverage." Fine.
The team has three safeties signed through 2011 and will need to add players. Either an undrafted free agent like McDaniel or Lefeged, or another undrafted free agent from 2009 like Tom Nelson (exclusive-rights free agent) or a four-year veteran that was drafted in the seventh round like Chinedum Ndukwe -- are we seeing a pattern here? The Bengals will have to expand the roster at safety like every year and like every year, they have to do it with undrafted free agents.
Derrick Locke, running back out of Kentucky, is another player we could see the Bengals signing. Granted, he's more Bernard Scott than Cedric Benson, but Locke is another body that the team needs who could help on special teams, while keeping a backup plan in place to answer durability questions about Scott. Plus Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson ran position drills for Locke during Kentucky's Pro Day in mid-March.
We wouldn't be surprised if the team looked at a center either. Kyle Cook is a restricted free agent while Reggie Stephens, a backup interior offensive lineman, could do well with a little competition for a spot on the roster. USC's Kristofer O'Dowd, who has durability concerns, started 36 games at a major program. TCU's Jake Kirkpatrick could be another center, especially considering the likely camaraderie he may have with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.
There's plenty of options that the Bengals could turn to once free agency kicks off. But let's not forget about the undrafted free agents that will be there.