Every year, players that drop from the draft excite fans when they sign as undrafted free agents for their respective teams. Some of those players, like La’el Collins, Jason Peters and Nickell Robey-Coleman start quickly and play extraordinarily well. Other hyped undrafted free agents — Isaiah Crowell, Vontaze Burfict, Ken Crawley etc — become key starters. Many, like Anthony Harris, Corey Clement, Jeremy Cash and so on, end up as critical depth.
Most don’t do anything.
Recently, the top undrafted free agents include players like Adam Thielen, Malcolm Butler, Allen Hurns, Chris Harris and Damon Harrison — and they didn’t show up on any lists of the “top undrafted free agents available” in their respective draft years.
In many respects, it may seem as if using expert consensus to figure out who the best undrafted free agents will be is an exercise in futility. But, knowing that over 450 undrafted free agents sign with teams every year, it’s notable that the players at the top of these lists have a better “hit rate” — whether measured by Pro Bowls, starts or career length — than the players at the bottom.
With that in mind, we can figure out not only who the best free agents are, but which teams have the best free agent class. It’s just worth keeping mind that these carry a lot of uncertainty, and there’s not an enormous amount of evidence that the Consensus Big Board can predict the outcomes of undrafted free agents as well as it does drafted players.
For this exercise, we had to extend the Consensus Big Board to 848 players, and any players left unranked after that were given minimal point value. The same logarithmic function that guides the player values (where the top-ranked player is worth 3000 points, the second-ranked player is worth 2643 points and so on going down) was used to value the players going down, but 400 points were added to each player to prevent the scale from hitting negative values.
Because not every team has confirmed their free agents, we used the free agency tracker from SB Nation that has been constantly updating since the conclusion of the draft.
We know which players were the top available undrafted free agents, but first let’s look at who the top undrafted free agents were for each team (table is sortable):
|Quenton Meeks||Jacksonville Jaguars||CB||93||1082.6|
|Holton Hill||Minnesota Vikings||CB||101||1040.0|
|Jeff Holland||Denver Broncos||EDGE||116||968.6|
|Tarvarus McFadden||San Francisco 49ers||CB||126||925.9|
|Trenton Thompson||Cleveland Browns||DT||131||905.9|
|Quin Blanding||Washington Redskins||S||138||879.0|
|Josh Adams||Philadelphia Eagles||RB||157||812.5|
|Deontay Burnett||Tennessee Titans||WR||161||799.5|
|Tegray Scales||Los Angeles Rams||LB||169||774.5|
|Tony Brown||Los Angeles Chargers||CB||172||765.4|
|Godwin Igwebuike||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||S||180||741.9|
|Poona Ford||Seattle Seahawks||DT||181||739.1|
|Kurt Benkert||Atlanta Falcons||QB||184||730.6|
|Skai Moore||Indianapolis Colts||LB||185||727.8|
|Levi Wallace||Buffalo Bills||CB||186||725.0|
|J.C. Jackson||New England Patriots||CB||188||719.5|
|Mike McCray||Miami Dolphins||LB||189||716.8|
|Byron Pringle||Kansas City Chiefs||WR||190||714.0|
|Trayvon Henderson||Cincinnati Bengals||S||197||695.4|
|Dimitri Flowers||New York Jets||RB||210||662.4|
|Olasunkanmi Adeniyi||Pittsburgh Steelers||EDGE||212||657.5|
|Davin Bellamy||Houston Texans||DB||219||640.8|
|Taylor Hearn||Carolina Panthers||OG||221||636.1|
|Michael Joseph||Chicago Bears||CB||226||624.5|
|Nick Gates||New York Giants||OG||251||570.4|
|Jason Cabinda||Oakland Raiders||LB||258||556.2|
|JoJo Wicker||Detroit Lions||EDGE||266||540.5|
|J.T. Barrett||New Orleans Saints||QB||300||478.4|
|James Hearns||Dallas Cowboys||DE||325||437.1|
|Christian LaCouture||Baltimore Ravens||DT||327||433.9|
|Frank Ginda||Arizona Cardinals||LB||328||432.4|
|Jacob Alsadek||Green Bay Packers||OG||422||302.4|
As for the team-level results, we can look at total value acquired, value per free agent signed and the value of the top five free agents each team acquired. We can combine all three results into one score, where the highest overall score is best.
|Team||Value||Value/FA||Top 5||Total Score|
|Los Angeles Chargers||3322.7||158.2||2759.0||9.4|
|Kansas City Chiefs||3297.7||253.7||2672.2||8.5|
|San Francisco 49ers||2639.0||203.0||2332.0||-0.1|
|New York Giants||2425.1||269.5||2210.5||-2.1|
|New England Patriots||2289.2||228.9||2139.8||-4.3|
|New Orleans Saints||2875.9||221.2||2086.7||-5.1|
|New York Jets||2032.1||145.1||1909.5||-10.6|
|Los Angeles Rams||1753.1||194.8||1709.3||-14.7|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1474.5||105.3||1423.4||-22.3|
|Green Bay Packers||929.3||62.0||830.4||-36.5|
The Vikings have, by far, the highest total value, the highest value per free agent and the highest value of top five free agents. Their total score is higher than any other team by a good margin, driven by Holton Hill, Hercules Mata’afa, Korey Robertson, Jake Wieneke and Tray Matthews.
Does it make up for an average draft class? Probably not, but it certainly is fun to imagine the possibilities.