Putting together good draft classes is important, but it's not the only method of adding young talent. Teams can also find young talent by signing undrafted free agents, and the Detroit Lions did an excellent job in that department last year. Not only did they find their starting right tackle (LaAdrian Waddle) via their undrafted free agent signings, but they also added a tight end who caught 7 touchdowns as a rookie (Joseph Fauria).
This year, the Lions signed 11 undrafted free agents, and during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio this week, general manager Martin Mayhew highlighted three of them as players that they're "excited about." Specifically, Mayhew singled out Kansas State offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas, William & Mary safety Jerome Couplin and Florida State fullback Chad Abram.
It's no surprise that Mayhew talked up Lucas considering the Lions gave him a pretty significant signing bonus. Mayhew said during the interview that Lucas "has a chance to be like a Waddle sort of guy," and the Lions are planning to play him at both left and right tackle. Mayhew thinks Lucas has a real chance to make the Lions' 53-man roster, and I actually already have him penciled in as the team's fourth offensive tackle.
The Lions' interest in Couplin didn't just start when he went undrafted. They actually brought Couplin in for a pre-draft visit despite the fact that they "had a free-agent grade on him." Mayhew said they liked what they saw of Couplin on film, and at the very least, they think he will be able to contribute on special teams.
Finally, Abram grabbed Mayhew's attention at Florida State's pro day. Mayhew thinks Abram has the potential to contribute as a fullback and on special teams, and considering Jed Collins is the only other true fullback on the team right now, Abram has a real shot to make the 53-man roster.