Just because the draft is over, the personnel additions do not stop. It’s now undrafted free agent season, or UDFA time. Below are confirmed signing by the Lions and a little about each.
Martavius Neloms (CB/S-Kentucky)
Neloms was the #1 CB for the Kentucky Wildcats this year. He was moved when the guy penciled in as the #1 CB was ruled academically ineligible. He was a pretty good safety before he moved and he brings the ballskills and toughness you would expect out of a guy making that positional change. He’s not really comfortable in press man coverage yet, but he’s very spacially aware and does a good job of understanding his zone responsibilities. He’s not overly athletic (Just a 4.5 40time) which hinders him at times, but he’s a versatile player. As a slot Corner/In the box Safety he could find a spot on the team. There should be a lot of DBs in camp because after the starters there isn’t much depth. Keep an eye on Neloms, he’s got a good shot of making the team.
Jon Morgan (LB-Albany)
Teams generally bring a lot of LBs into camp. They’re typically very good on Special teams and they have a habit of working out better as UDFA’s better than a lot of other positions. Jon Morgan from the University of Albany is one of those guys. He’s a very strong player, but he doesn’t move very well. He doesn’t show the coverage skills to be a very effective pro linebacker and he isn’t a guy with sideline to sideline speed. So long as the running back is kept between the Tackles, he’s reliable, but he shouldn’t be asked for much more than that. If he makes the team it will be on the basis of his special teams contributions. There’s a very limited ceiling here, and I would be slightly upset if he made the team rather than guy with significant upside.
Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan
Carder entered 2012 fairly high on many a draft watch list but missed half of the season with a finger injury that required surgery. He is a little over 6’2″ and has very good short and intermediate accuracy. His downfield velocity and placement are not ideal. During Shrine Game Week he did little to distinguish himself, though he did show decent movement skills and came across as a natural leader. Carder figures to compete with Kellen Moore for the #3 QB job with the chance to move up to backup beyond next season.
Skyler Allen, C, Ohio University
A top-heavy mauler, Allen’s best asset is his savvy. Allen started 38 games for the Bobcats and was a big part of their ranking very highly in offensive efficiency. His initial punch and first step are NFL-quality, but he struggles to sustain the blocks and loses the battle the longer it lasts. He excelled at getting out to the second level, and his snapping is top notch. If he can learn to sink his hips and transfer power better, there is a chance the Lions have found their reserve interior lineman of the future. It’s more likely he doesn’t make it through camp but resurfaces on a futures contract next winter.
LaAdrian Waddle, OT, Texas Tech
Waddle has the prototypical offensive tackle frame and meets baseline athleticism for the position. His feet are plenty quick, both moving forward and lateral. He shows off a strong upper body when he gets his hands on defenders. He’s too much of a waist bender though, instead of sinking his hips, which compromises his balance. He’s also uncomfortable in his kickslide. His technique as a whole needs to be overhauled, as he picked up too many bad habits in an air raid scheme. Waddle started at left tackle for the Red Raiders for three season so he has the necessary experience in a BCS conference. He’s a developmental type tackle because of technical deficiencies but has the size, strength, and movement ability to keep an eye on in pre-season for a team that needs depth at offensive tackle.
Austin Holtz (OT-Ball State)
Somewhere between Eric Fisher and Brian Winters, Austin Holtz showed up on the all MAC team. He was a Tackle for Ball State, but he’s going to most likely end up on the inside if he makes an NFL team. He’s very fundamentally sound, but he’s athletically underwhelming. He’s got good length and decent punch power, but he tends to get upright too quickly and doesn’t transfer his lower body power well. Holtz only allowed 1.5 sacks his final two years of playing, though the MAC isn’t exactly teeming with quality pass rushers. He doesn’t have the footspeed to consistently keep up with NFL rushers, but he might have the anchor to play inside. So long as he has the balance to get the job done, his hand usage and versatility will get him a job somewhere. He’s got the potential to be a long term Guard and might be able to get the team out of a game at Tackle on nothing but effort, but he’s a guy that if he’s starting, the team will be looking for an upgrade in next year’s draft. He’ll definitely compete in camp, and if he can get it done against Suh and Fairley, he’ll be able to do it against anybody.
Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA
Fauria was a productive pass catching tight end for UCLA over the course of two seasons. He’s a natural pass catcher with ability to go up and highpoint the football. For that reason, he was productive in the redzone with 12 touchdowns as a senior and 20 over his career. Fauria is a bit too much of a finesse route runner though. For a tight end, he struggles to outmatch smaller defensive backs with physicality and strength. He was also predominantly used in the slot instead of in-line, but doesn’t have the dynamic athletic ability to fill a joker tight end role in the league. He’ll have to translate his skills to a traditional tight end role while getting stronger and trying to become a more physical player. He gives good effort as a blocker, but has limited experience and his technique is mostly non-existant. Fauria could contribute as a receiver in a pinch, but he’s a one dimensional player at this stage in his career.
Cody Wilson, WR, Central Michigan
Wilson is a try-hard, undersized receiver who happened to play very well in his final collegiate game, the Little Caesar’s Bowl at Ford Field. There is decent athleticism and quickness but Wilson plays very much like a guy who runs a 4.66 in the 40. His best shot is to emerge as a special teams force, but it’s more likely he is one of the names on the first cut list.
Alex Elkins, LB, Oklahoma State
Elkins is like Ziggy Ansah in that he is a very good athlete that hasn’t been playing football very long. At OSU he got by on raw athleticism, very good closing speed, and a fierce determination. He tore apart TCU and looked very impressive against Arizona, but in the Texas and Purdue games he wad downright invisible. Right now Elkins is a very athletic project but one that plays with blinders on and has little clue how to avoid or separate from blocks. He has the mentality and physical attributes to become a very good special teams player, and that is his bet ticket to making the Lions.
Steven Miller, RB, Appalachian State
Michael Brooks, DE, East Carolina