When the NFL Draft was reduced to 7 Rounds several CBAs ago the number of Undrafted Rookie Free Agents (URFA) rose slightly to essentially replace those deleted Rounds. Most teams enter each season’s Training Camp with 15-25 such signees, on their 90-man rosters, depending upon their needs and/or the scouting reports from their Scouting Departments.
But in general the number of these non-Draftees who make an NFL roster as Rookies is rather small, at least when it comes to their initial 53-man rosters. Since I will be the guy here who regularly follows the progress of Rookies on a weekly basis I perused NFL rosters of Sunday, September 3rd to establish starting points for some of these Rookies.
Because rosters are in such ever-changing flux it should be noted that the information presented below is drawn from official NFL 53-man rosters as of Labor Day weekend.
The NFC exceeded the number of AFC Undrafted Rookie Free Agents by 29 to 21 this year.
2023 NFL Rookie Free Agent Outlook
The breakdown of players per team is as follows:
4 each CAROLINA, TAMPA BAY
3 each ARIZONA, GREEN BAY, MINNESOTA, SEATTLE
2 each CHICAGO, DALLAS, NEW ORLEANS
1 each DETROIT, L.A. RAMS, PHILADELPHIA
NONE ATLANTA, N.Y. GIANTS, SAN FRANCISO, WASHINGTON
Below are Undrafted Rookies who were rated in the Top 300 players on Pigskin Paul’s final Draft Prospect rating list prior to the 2023 NFL Draft.
EKU LEOTA ER/OB Panthers PP#134
ANDRE CARTER ER/OB Vikings PP#180
RAKIM JARRETT WR Buccaneers PP#192
HUNTER LUEPKE RB/FB/TE Cowboys PP#211
TYSON BAGENT QB Bears PP#223
JAKE BOBO WR Seahawks PP#224
STARLING THOMAS CB Cardinals PP#199
CHRIS IZIEN S Buccaneers PP#262
IVAN PACE LB/ST Vikings PP#275
ELI RICKS CB Eagles PP#282
Will there be any players from these URFA lists that claw their way into starting jobs and last long enough to even qualify for an NFL pension? The answer is most likely “yes”, but not many.
The most surprising URFA to crack a roster this year? To my eyes probably QB TYSON BAGENT who won the No.2 QB spot behind Justin Fields in Chicago during Training Camp and pre-season games.
The second biggest surprise to me was that after the Summer Camps had concluded new JETS QB AARON RODGERS had 2 of his buddies from Green Bay in his JETS receiving corps in LAZARD & COBB, but also ended up with 2 Undrafted Rookies in JASON BROWNLEE & XAVIER GIPSON in his wideout group. There is a strange irony to that coincidence in my opinion.
Cheers to all. Now let’s play some real football!