Two tight ends on the Denver roster show that talent isn’t always evident at first glance.
Futures: Two Non-College Prospects
by Matt Waldman
Some players are out of sight from NFL fans and media, but they aren’t out of mind for many NFL teams. Every new draft class may seem like the terminus of football scouting, but personnel departments don’t throw out their old scouting reports to make room for the new. Potential doesn’t die; it bides its time behind a star player, it seeks work in a different league, or it trains at home and sends out feelers until another shot comes along.
Scouts and NFL personnel directors are often responsible for keeping tabs on those players whose fire still burns bright for a chance to fulfill their potential even though they have disappeared from the public eye. I’m talking about undrafted players who were cut well before they even figured out the best route to the facility without the help of a road map and bounced around until they proved they belonged: Fred Jackson,Joique Bell, Kurt Warner, James Harrison, Jason Peters, Cameron Wake, Michael Bennett, Jeff Saturday, Rod Smith, Brian Waters, Sam Mills, Joe Jacoby, Nate Newton, Wes Welker, Ryan Grant, and Bart Scott.
That’s just a partial list. Go to Chase Stuart’s blog for acomprehensive list of free agents-turned-ballers since 2002.
This week’s Futures profiles two talented prospects at the tight end position. Neither are rookies from this class, but both would have graded within the same range of Minnesota’s Maxx Williams (or do we mean Rotoworld’s Josh Norris? It’s so hard to tell.)
Veteran Virgil Green was my top rookie tight end prospect in the 2011 class. Joe Don Duncan of Dixie State was my No. 3 tight end prospect last year. The Broncos drafted Green in 2011, and signed Duncan on Tuesday. Both can thank Julius Thomas for the opportunity to compete for an expanded role in the Denver offense in 2015.
Finished laughing? I hope so, because I’m dead serious. Denver might have permanently pigeon-holed Green as a blocker, they might view Duncan as a training camp curiosity, and they could pursue a promising rookie within the first four rounds of the draft this May, but don’t be surprised if the organization is quietly optimistic about this duo. Considering the amount of limited or raw talent in the 2015 tight end class, Denver’s decision to invest in one of its own and add a potential steal of a deal from the unemployment line may prove a wise alternative.