Top 10 Rookie Free Agents Available

Baltimore can’t reach out to undrafted rookies, but here’s a few top names.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

Typically the real madness begins right after the draft ends.
 
It’s when NFL teams race each other to contact, recruit and sign undrafted free agents. It’s a free-for-all for relatively cheap, available talent.
 
However, due to the lockout, NFL teams cannot sign any undrafted players to a contract. Head Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens did speak with prospective undrafted players during the scouting process, but the team can’t contact them now.
 
“This time, there is none of that, and it’s going to be very interesting when we get the opportunity to do that. We’re going to have to put that together very quickly,” Harbaugh said.
 
“Most of the guys that are in that category are guys that we would be thinking about drafting at the end, too. We’re always researching and getting to know guys. We’ll just see how all that shakes out.”
 
Once there’s a new collective bargaining agreement, or the official 2011 season begins, some intriguing names will be available.
 
Baltimore didn’t get a center/guard player for depth to possibly mold into an eventual replacement for Matt Birk. The Ravens also saw some hybrid pass rushers fly off the board, passed on inside linebackers and didn’t take a safety, which could be a need if strong safety Dawan Landry is a free agent.
 
While the Ravens front office keeps its interests top-secret, here’s a list of 10 prospects that could be of interest to Baltimore:
 
LB Mark Herzlich, Boston College
A gut-wrenching story, Herzlich went undrafted after battling back from cancer to return to football. Before cancer, NFL.com’s Gil Brandt said the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year would have been a top-10 pick. He was less productive in his 2010 return, but still had 65 tackles and four interceptions. He obviously has the toughness and desire to succeed. Herzlich was drafted by the Omaha Nighthawks in the 10th round of the UFL draft Monday night, but can still sign with an NFL team.
 
ILB Alex Wujciak, Maryland
The local product was a productive force for the Terps throughout his career. His numbers, in terms of tackles, did trail off throughout his three years but he still had 94 tackles and two interceptions in 2010. He’s a solid tackler with good instincts, but isn’t a great athlete in terms of changing directions.
 
C Jake Kirkpatrick, TCU
Kirkpatrick is light on experience (he started playing football his senior year of high school), so he’s a bit raw. But he’s big on toughness. The 6-foot-2, 300-pounder with a basketball and baseball background, is a good run blocker who can also get down field. He was a first-team All-American in Sports Illustrated.
 
C Ryan Bartholomew, Syracuse
The Orangeman was one of the fastest offensive linemen at the combine (4.97 40-yard dash). He doesn’t have great size, standing in at just 6-foot-1, 302 pounds, but is athletic and has good character. He was a team captain as a senior.
 
OT David Mims, Virginia Union
The small-school prospect is huge (6-8, 331) and put up similar workout numbers to some of the top linemen with 29 bench press reps a 5.32 40-yard dash. He’s a Division II All-American with a mean streak whom reportedly visited and worked out for the Ravens, reported the National Football Post.
 
SS DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson
McDaniel was productive and durable as a three-year starter. He logged 15 career interceptions, including eight as a junior, second only to UCLA’s Rahim Moore. Still, some question his coverage ability in the NFL, especially after running a 4.63 at the combine. He’s instinctive and a reliable tackler.
 
S Will Hill, Florida
Hill left school a year early to reportedly help support his children and it seems to have cost him. He would have been the secondary’s top returner. He has character concerns stemming, but his athleticism makes him worth a look. He was coached by Ravens Secondary Coach Teryl Austin at Florida last year.
 
DE Ryan Winterswyk, Boise State
Winterswyk was disruptive in college, logging 21.5 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss over his career. However, he only had 1.5 sacks in 2010 and even played some tight end due to two bad knees. If he can get healthy, the blue-collar player has plenty of pass-rushing potential.
 
CB Kendric Burney, North Carolina
The Ravens drafted two cornerbacks, but Burney could deserve a look as well. He’s a small corner (5-foot-9, 181) and had a down 2010 season after being a second-team preseason All-American.  He played in just six games after missing the first seven and logged one interception. He shined at the Senior Bowl.
 
RB Noel Devine, West Virginia
Devine is a tiny speedster who could add a wrinkle. He’s 5-foot-8, 180 pounds and ran an unofficial 4.3 40-yard dash at the West Virginia pro day. Devine rushed for 1,465 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior but just 936 yards and six scores in 2010. There’s concern his small frame wouldn’t hold up in the NFL.

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