Fine print up front: This is only going to be an examination of how I feel about the players in question in regards to the team they have a currently signed deal with. If I say I don't think a player will make the roster, it does NOT mean I think they don't have a future in the NFL. It means I think they may not be in the best situation because of players currently on the roster, etc. They very well could (and in some case I think will) find a home elsewhere.
This is also not me saying that every one of them will make a roster. The odds are against most of them. When I say someone has a "Good Chance" that they will make a roster, there's also a very real chance that they won't. There aren't that many spots on an NFL roster. There's a lot of sunshine pumping in this article, but hey, I love my Auburn Tigers and always push for the best for them.
First, let's see just who has a deal and with whom in alphabetical order:
Quan Bray - Indianapolis Colts
Reese Dismukes - Pittsburgh Steelers
Brandon Fulse - Mini-camp invite from the Bears
Corey Grant - Jacksonville Jaguars
Brandon King - New England Patriots
Nick Marshall - Jacksonville Jaguars
Pat Miller - San Francisco 49ers
UPDATE! Jonathon Mincy - Atlanta Falcons.
Trovon Reed - Seattle Seahawks
Chad Slade - Houston Texans
Robenson Therezie - Atlanta Falcons
Jermaine Whitehead - San Francisco 49ers
Congrats to all the guys who signed a free agent contract! WDE! pic.twitter.com/CFNzhglIKP— DC (@CoachDCraig) May 5, 2015
Now let's dig a little deeper into the position that those players are in with the teams they signed with.
Nick Marshall - This stems largely from the fact that Jacksonville's coaches worked with him in the Senior Bowl. They know the talent that he has and saw what he's capable of. Yes, he needs work. But he was a stand-out CB in his freshman year at UGA. He's a project, but he has the talent to hold on to. He may only play special teams in 2015 or be put on the practice squad, but I think the Jaguars are going to do whatever they can to hold on to Nick Marshall. His athletic ability will put him on an NFL playing field before too long.
Plus, he's always an emergency QB option should something happen to Blake Bortles. Sure, the Jaguars have Chad Henne and Stephen Morris on the roster, but Marshall is always an option.
Jermaine Whitehead - The 49ers have four Safeties listed on their roster. Two of them are at 9+ years. One is Eric Reid, a 2nd year guy out of LSU. The other is fellow Rookie Jaquiski Tartt out of Samford. Tartt has real talent. He showed that on the field against Auburn in 2014. I honestly don't know how many Safeties an NFL team likes to carry, but I think Whitehead is in a good spot to find a home with the 49ers.
He definitely has the talent to succeed in the NFL. I think the only reason Whitehead wasn't drafted is due to his suspension in the middle of the 2014 season. He put up good numbers in the Combine, and he pulled down six interceptions in only seven games played. Georgia and Samford are the only two teams he didn't tally an interception against. If he doesn't find a home in San Francisco, I feel very confident he'll find a home somewhere.
Reese Dismukes - The Steelers have an entrenched Center in Maurkice Pouncey and a pack-up in Wallace Cody who is capable of playing Center, as well. I still think he has a very good shot at making the Roster, though. The Steelers also signed BJ Finney from Kansas State to an UDFA deal. That tells me that they're looking for options for back-ups or maybe they're unhappy with Pouncey.
If that's the case, then they definitely got one of the steals of the draft. Picking up Dismukes as a Free Agent is unbelievable. I still can't fathom that he didn't get drafted. From what Phillip Marshall said in a pay-walled article on AuburnUndercover, it sounds like the character issue is a bunch of hogwash. Dismukes was a finalist for the best Center in the nation in 2013. He won it in 2014. The Steelers are a run-first team. Dismukes is road grader in the run blocking game. I expect to see him make the Steeler's roster.
Corey Grant - The Jaguars drafted Alabama running back TJ Yeldon in the draft, and they currently have Toby Gerhart on the roster along with Storm Johnson and Pierce Bernard. I doubt any of those are as fast as Corey Grant. I don't see Gerhart surviving over Yeldon (unless Yeldon's fumble issues show up in camp), but Yeldon is a big bruiser. Grant is capable of running between the tackles, but he excels in open space.
Grant could give the Jaguars a - dare I say it - Thunder and Lightning combo with whomever does end up with their primary back role. He's also deadly in the return game with his speed. He provides so many different options due to his versatility. He's shorter than all of the Jaguars' current backs, but at 5'10, 205 lbs, he's by no means small for a running back. I think Grant has an excellent chance to catch on in Jacksonville.
Quan Bray - The Colts have a ton of WRs currently on their roster. They have veteran Andre Johnson whom they picked up from the Texans in the off season. They have TY Hilton and Vincent Brown who both fit the mold of the type of receiver Quan Bray is. They drafted Phillip Dorsett from Miami, who is also a similar receiver to Quan Bray. So why do I think Quan has a good chance at making the roster? Because I believe in Quan Bray.
Bray had a breakout season in 2014 for Auburn. He finally became the player we were hoping he would be when he signed with the Tigers. He had numerous deep ball touchdown catches. He proved he would fight hard for the ball in a spectacular catch against Alabama. He was one of the nations' best punt returners and took multiple punts to the house.
Bray is really starting to hit his stride. I honestly wanted to put him into the "Good Chance" category, but the sheer number of talented receivers already on the roster - plus their early round draft pick in Dorsett - makes it a much harder road. I think Bray definitely has a future in the NFL.
Chad Slade - The Texans have two players listed at the Guard position and they have Xavier Su'a-File from UCLA whom they drafted last season. That's it. They do have a ton of Tackles, though, so they probably have plans to move some of those over to Guard if need be. Either that or their roster has the wrong positions named.
Slade was the unsung hero of 2014. His name was never hailed in exultant praise, but never condemned either. He was constant. He was what you expect an offensive lineman to be. At 6'5, 315 lbs, he has the size to be an NFL Offensive Guard. It may be tough, but I think he has a shot to make it.
Robenson Therezie - My biggest issue with Therezie right now is I just don't know what position the Falcons project him at. He spent the last two seasons at Auburn playing the LB/DB hybrid "Star" position. He was signed at Auburn to be a Safety. The Star position as he played it was almost a Nickel-back. I suspect that's where he projects for the Falcons.
William Moore is pretty entrenched as the starter in one of the Falcons' Safety slots. The other is somewhat up in the air, though. The Falcons drafted Akeem King from San Jose State, which is a pretty good choice. He had a decent day against Auburn this past season. I really think Therezie's experience in that hybrid position puts him at somewhat of an advantage in earning a spot just because of the versatility. The Falcons need to find solid DBs. Dan Quinn's defenses demand it. Therezie has a chance to really make a name for himself, here.
UPDATED!!!! Jonathon Mincy - Mincy was invited to work out for the Falcons at their Rookie Camp, and apparently he impressed them enough that he now has a Free Agent deal with them! It's going to be tough sledding for him, as the Falcons have a ton of DBs on their roster right now. However, the Falcons really need GOOD DBs, so Mincy is going to have every opportunity to take a spot, similar to Therezie above.
Mincy is a cornerback, while Therezie is likely a Safety or Nickel-back. At least they won't be competing against each other. The Falcons drafted Jalen Collins from LSU to play CB and Desmond Trufant already has one starting spot locked down, but Collins is still rehabbing an injury and no one else on the roster has really stepped up. I would also put him in the "Good Chance" category since the Falcons obviously saw enough they liked to sign him to a deal.
I believe In Work. Hard Work.
Because that's what it's probably going to take for these guys to make a roster.
Trovon Reed - Reed was a wide-receiver for his first years at Auburn. He made the switch to CB in 2014 and had a respectable year. By the end of the season I think he was doing really well in the position. I wish he had made the switch earlier in his career, because I think he could have been an excellent CB with more experience.
Now he's getting thrown into the fire and will be on the same team with one of the NFL's best in Richard Sherman. The Seahawks added two other rookie WRs this season; both from FCS schools. That doesn't mean they don't have talent, though. They have talent and experience on their side. Then there are four other CBs not named Richard Sherman on the team. It's a crowded position in a defense that has prided itself on great DBs.
Seattle may not be the best place for Trovon Reed to earn a roster spot. It may be the best place for him to learn enough to make one somewhere else, though. Working with Richard Sherman can do nothing but help Trovon Reed. I really hope he watches him closely and steps up his game considerably in Seattle.
Brandon King - I was shocked to see King land a deal. That is not meant to be a knock on his ability. I just forgot about him. King never really broke into Auburn's secondary in his time on the Plains. He's in this category in part because I just don't have enough to draw upon to make any assessment of him.
I really hope King ends up being one of those players we look back on and say "wow, how did we not realize what we had in him?" The Patriots took a chance on him with this signing, so they obviously saw something. Bill Belichick attended Auburn's Pro-Day in person and had a chance to observe King. Perhaps he saw something Auburn's coaches never did. Or maybe he sees someone who just never lived up to the potential that's there in him and thinks he can get it out of him. It's going to be interesting to see what King does in New England.
Pat Miller - The 49ers have three players listed at the Tackle position, rookie Trenton Brown from Florida coming in, and one player listed as a G/T. His 6'7 height is in his favor, but his weight being below 300 is NOT in his favor. The starters for the 49ers are pretty well entrenched in their positions, and it's going to be tough to beat out the other veteran reserves or fellow rookie Brown for one of the back-up spots. I really think he could have used another year of seasoning. If it wasn't at Auburn, maybe a transfer to a big FCS school or use the redshirt year he still had available. Hopefully he proves me wrong.
Brandon Fulse - Fulse did not earn a Free Agent deal, but he did earn an invite to Mini-Camp. That means he has the hardest to work out of any of these players. It's going to be a tough road to earn a spot on a team with six Tight-ends already listed on the roster.