The NFL draft is next week. The entire football world is focusing on that, and rightfully so. Most of the free agency dust has settled. However, there are still a handful of players out there that can help teams win, even if they don’t find a home until after the draft. Here are four of those players.
The first two names are relatively new additions to the free agent pool. Anderson spent five seasons in Denver after going undrafted out of Cal. His release had more to do with finances than football. He is not going to win any foot races, but he is a very tough runner who gets better as the season goes on.
Anderson had 767 yards and eight touchdowns in the second half of the 2014 season and 234 yards rushing yards during Denver’s playoff run to Super Bowl 50. This past season he rushed for over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career after an injury plagued 2016.
True featured running backs are a rare breed in today’s NFL. So there is plenty of room for guys like Anderson, who is only 27 years old. He will be a valuable pickup for a team that comes up short in a rich running back draft.
Bryant’s production has fallen off dramatically since 2014. He has not posted 1,000 receiving yards since then. Injuries, lack of chemistry with anyone other than Tony Romo and general unhappiness with the Cowboys are all factors in his statistical decline and eventual release from the Cowboys.
The former first-round pick may still have some good football left in him, but he is going to get opportunities and offers based on the player he is and not the player he was. Bryant has been very vocal about wanting to face the Cowboys twice a year, but there is not an obvious fit in the NFC East. The Ravens, Texans and Packers have all been mentioned as possible destinations.
He could work very well as a complementary receiver in Baltimore or Houston. The Packers simply do not sign many free agents. Thus, Green Bay going after a loud receiver who has been mediocre for the last three years would be a shocker. The Ravens and Texans represent Bryant’s best chances at adding a decent second act to his career.
Galette comes with injury and character concerns. He returned to the field in 2017 after missing the 2015 and 2016 seasons due to injury. He played in all 16 games and posted three sacks for Washington last year.
The three hardest things to find in the NFL are elite quarterbacks, left tackles and pass rushers. In the last three seasons in which Galette has played, he has 25 total sacks. That kind of production should get him an opportunity somewhere, even though it may be during training camp for the veteran’s minimum. If the team structures his contract wisely, he is the definition of low risk, high reward.
Decker has had one of the more interesting careers you will ever come across. He has been in some great offenses for wide receivers like the record-setting 2013 Broncos. Decker has also been in some horrible offenses for wide receivers. The Tim Tebow led Broncos of 2011 and last year’s Titans immediately spring to mind.
Still, Decker managed to be productive even in run-heavy offenses. He blocked well and put up 44 catches for the 2011 Broncos and 54 with last year’s Titans. When he has played regularly, stayed healthy and been in more modern offenses, Decker has been a shoe-in for 80 catches.
Simply put, Decker will do whatever is asked of him and do it well. He is the kind of player that you really have to pay attention to in order to appreciate. Thus, it is mystifying that Decker continues to wait for his phone to ring. Personnel around the league are sleeping on this guy in a big way.
The Ravens and Raiders have kicked the tires on the former Minnesota Golden Gopher. There has also been some chatter about a reunion between Decker and the Broncos.
The early phases of free agency and rounds of the NFL Draft get most of the headlines, but it is often the latter part of both that separate bad teams from average ones and good teams from championship-caliber clubs.
Featured image from SI.com
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