In case you missed it, the 2017 NFL Draft happened this weekend. Only one Arizona State player was selected: Zane Gonzalez to the Cleveland Browns. Gonzalez was expected to get drafted after breaking many NCAA records en route to winning the Lou Groza Award.
But many other Sun Devils didn’t hear their names called at all. Once Chad Kelly’s name was called as Mr. Irrelevant, these Sun Devils became undrafted free agents. The life of an undrafted free agent is incredibly tumultuous. They typically know beforehand that they won’t get drafted, but their hope remains. And when the draft show finally ends, a frightening reality sets in. They end up waiting by the phone for hours, sometimes days, as their agent presumably scrambles to get offers from teams. That’s what makes it all the more satisfying when an offer finally does come through, and the last chance at getting their foot in the NFL door often serves as inspiration to work extra hard in training camp and preseason. It’s what has fueled some of the greatest undrafted free agents in history, including the likes of Wes Welker, Antonio Gates, James Harrison, Tony Romo, and Kurt Warner.
Now, it’s highly unlikely that any of these undrafted free agents will be that good. But you can never say never with these sorts of things. Without further ado, here’s the list of undrafted Sun Devils who signed deals this week.
Tim White, Wide Receiver
— Tim White (@tim_white6) April 30, 2017
Team: Baltimore Ravens
Bio: As a JUCO transfer, White made a big impression at Arizona State. He was a dynamic kick returner who made strides as a receiver each year. He is also a track star, and nearly qualifies for the 2016 Olympics.
Chance of Making the Roster: Solid. Outside of Mike Wallace, the depth chart at wide receiver is murky for the Ravens. Breshad Perriman can’t stay healthy, Keenan Reynolds is still adjusting to life as a wideout, and the likes of Kenny Bell, Vince Mayle, and Michael Campanaro aren’t tough competition. White’s value as a returner should give him improved odds.
Matt Haack, Punter
I'm blessed to have an opportunity to be a part of the Miami Dolphins! I'm ready to get to work! #FinsUp
— Matthew Haack (@matthaack21) April 29, 2017
Team: Miami Dolphins
Bio: Haack was a reliable punter for the Sun Devils, averaging 44.4 yards per punt (6th in the nation) in his senior year. He’s got the ability to pin the ball inside the 20 provided the coverage unit does their job.
Chance of Making the Roster: Okay. Haack will battle Matt Darr, the Dolphins’ starting punter the previous two seasons. Darr has a similar skillset and is a more known commodity. Haack will have to impress to beat out Darr.
De’Chavon “Gump” Hayes, Defensive Back
— Todd Graham (@CoachGrahamASU) April 30, 2017
Team: Arizona Cardinals
Bio: Gump Hayes came to Tempe as a running back, and was given some looks as a receiver, but eventually made the switch to defensive back. More of a pure athlete than anything else, Hayes makes plays in the return game and occasional big plays like pick sixes, but his technique, fundamentals, and consistency are all cause for concern.
Chance of Making the Roster: Slim. The Cardinals need depth in the secondary but they are in win now mode and can’t afford a roster spot on someone who needs to develop the nuances of the position. Hayes will be a prime practice squad candidate, though.
Kody Kohl, Tight End
— AZ Varsity- Football (@AZHSFB) April 30, 2017
Team: Tennessee Titans
Bio: A do-it-all, throwback sort of tight end who can go downfield and make catches across the field or buckle down and block defenders.
Chance of Making the Roster: Not good. The Titans’ number one tight end is Delanie Walker, and they recently added Jace Amaro. Jerome Cunningham and Phillip Supernaw are two savvy veterans and Tennessee also drafted Jonnu Smith from Florida International in the third round. The position is crowded, but Kohl’s skills should get him a spot on another team down the road.
Evan Goodman, Offensive Line
— Robert Kline (@KlineSportsPics) May 2, 2017
Team: San Francisco 49ers
Bio: Goodman started at left tackle for two years on an offensive line with plenty of problems. His first ever start was a baptism by fire against Myles Garrett, and it didn’t go well. He showed gradual improvement over his two year stint, though.
Chance of Making the Roster: Slim. Goodman’s size projects him as a guard in the NFL, and the 49ers’ interior line is pretty full. Joshua Garnett, Brandon Fusco, and Zane Beadles are all pretty much locks. Two centers, Jeremy Zuttah and Daniel Kilgore, also have the flexibility to play guard if needed, so San Francisco likely won’t keep a fourth guard.
Jordan Simone, Safety
Happy to announce that I'm 100% healthy and have been given an opportunity to play with my hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks.
— Jordan Simone (@JordanSimone38) April 29, 2017
Team: Seattle Seahawks
Bio: Simone graduated a year ago, but a torn ACL near the end of his senior season led to him being undrafted and taking off last season to recover. However, before his injury he was the leader of the Sun Devil defense, racking up 191 tackles, five sacks, and four interceptions through just 22 total games.
Chance of Making the Roster: Marginal. It remains to be seen how much he can contribute after such a horrible injury, and the Seahawks’ secondary isn’t exactly in need, especially after drafting two safeties in Tedric Thompson and Michael Tyson. Still, Simone could use the preseason to essentially try out for other teams with a weakness at the position, and at the very least should make a practice squad somewhere.
The road ahead for these players won’t be easy. However, there are currently five former Sun Devils who went undrafted and are still on NFL rosters: Rashad Ross (WR, San Francisco), Mike Bercovici (QB, Los Angeles Chargers), Robert Nelson (DB, Houston), DJ Foster (RB, New England), and Vontaze Burfict (LB, Cincinnati). It won’t be easy, but it’s done before. Good luck, rookies!