As with every year, the Detroit Lions’ undrafted rookie signings seem to have drummed up some excitement with the fanbase. Undrafted free agents (UDFAs) make for great underdog stories and provide fans with hope at positions left unaddressed in the draft or players that were surprisingly looked over.
Admittedly, there are some actual reasons for Lions fans to be hopeful of this year’s class of post-draft signings. Wisconsin’s Beau Benzschawel may not only contend for a roster spot, but could theoretically even be a long-term solution at right guard. The fact that he had offers from over 20 different teams shows just how high of a UDFA priority he was.
Additionally, the Lions gave San Diego State offensive tackle Ryan Pope $145,000 guaranteed, suggesting he had a lot of suitors too. Throw in a raw talent like defensive end Malik Carney, and you have three players that could realistically make the 53-man roster—a pretty impressive haul for one year of UDFAs.
But not everyone is impressed. Thor Nystrom from Rotoworld ranked all 32 teams’ UDFA classes based on his own pre-draft prospect rankings. The Lions came out just 17th in his rankings. (Hey look, he used RAS!)
Nystrom doesn’t say much about the Lions’ class, only that he’s surprised Benzschawel didn’t get drafted.
“Per reports, Benzschawel had contract offers from half the league or more — the Vikings were among teams burning up his phone line when the draft concluded on Saturday night,” Nystrom wrote. “I was lower on Benzschawel than some, but I still found it odd he didn’t get drafted.”
Benzschawel placed 150th in Nystrom’s class rankings, while Carney (220), Stetson tight end Donald Parham (288) and Pope (300) all just barely cracked his 300.
Obviously this is just one analyst’s opinion, but it’s always interesting to see how the national media perceives the Lions’ moves.