In the minutes and hours following the NFL Draft, there’s always a mad dash to sign college free agents, the players that are still available to sign after the draft. While this year’s crop of 20 CFAs may not have the same impact as players like Paul Worrilow, a college free agent that worked his way into a starting role in 2013, there is talent and intrigue throughout. You may know some of these players much better by the time training camp ends, but while you wait, here are five things you probably didn’t know about this year’s college free-agent class.
1) The Numbers: This year’s college free-agent class is the smallest in recent seasons. Last season the Falcons signed 24 CFAs after the draft and 22 in 2012 and ’11. This year’s class breakdown is: six wide receivers, three linebackers, two fullbacks, two tight ends, and one safety, defensive end, cornerback, quarterback, defensive tackle, center and punter.
2) Nix Switch: Kent State’s Roosevelt Nix was a defensive lineman in college and one of the best players to ever step on the field in the Mid-American Conference, but he’s entering the NFL as a fullback. The 5-foot-11, 260-pound Nix doesn’t have the size to be competitive on the defensive line in the NFL, but he’s extremely athletic and a move to fullback could be favorable. At his Pro Day in March, he ran the 40 in 4.79 seconds, had a 28-inch vertical, a 9-foot-2 broad jump and completed the three-cone drill in 6.90 seconds.
3) Wisconsin Connection: With the addition of third-round pick Dezmen Southward, the Falcons had three former Wisconsin players on their roster. Now that the round of college free-agent signings are complete, they have five. Both of the Badgers’ tight ends from last season are joining the Falcons and they figure to have a legitimate shot at a roster spot. Jacob Pedersen is the more mobile receiver of the two, while Brian Wozniak is a block-first, inline tight end. Pedersen holds the school record for touchdown receptions by a tight end, while Wozniak has 47 games played to his credit and the distinction of honing his blocking prowess against J.J. Watt while he was at Wisconsin.
4) Lone Lineman: The one offensive lineman in this year’s class is Tennessee’s James Stone, who anchored Tennessee’s offensive line at center as a four-year starter. The signing of Stone as the only O-lineman points to the level of depth the Falcons currently have and sets up what will surely be some interesting camp battles. Stone is one of the few left-handed centers, but he’s even more rare because he snaps with his right hand and shotgun snaps with his left.
5) Uncle Rumph: If the Falcons were looking for a young backup to Paul Soliai in the middle of the defensive line, they may have a diamond in the rough in Kentucky’s Donte Rumph. The man known as “Uncle Rumph” to his Wildcat teammates is an imposing 6-foot-3, 320 pounds and while he doesn’t have the lineage that first-round pick Jake Matthews has, he definitely has football in his blood. His cousin, Philip Merling, was a second-round pick in 2008 and spent six years in the league. His uncle, Chris Rumph played at South Carolina and spent five season as a coach there. He’s currently the defensive line coach at Alabama. Rumph’s older brother Tremaine Tyler also played for South Carolina. Before Rumph joined Kentucky, he spent two years at Fork Union Military Academy where he picked up some good habits. He polishes his shoes with a toothbrush and is an expert at making his bed using the hospital corners method.