- Just an article for those interested, as a followup on the NFLE stuff. What do you know, another former VT defensive back (Whitaker) making noise...
Speaking realistically, a good number of the players allocated by NFL teams are, in reality, free agents signed just before the allocation period and destined to be released after a period as camp fodder. Of course, some will use the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and supply tape to the whole league, not just their team, to their ultimate advantage. But ask any NFL Europe coach and he'll tell you there's nothing he appreciates more than a free agent who works hard to play at this level.
Every year there are a few players who've made the NFL Europe rosters without NFL affiliation and who have shown enough over the course of the season to make them attractive to teams looking for a free-agent bargain. The odds are always bad that they will make a team, but among these 10 players, don't be surprised if more than a couple surface on NFL rosters or practice squads in the fall. Ranked in approximate order, here are the top 10 free agents from this season, and virtually all of them play on the defensive side of the ball.
1. Ronyell Whitaker, CB, Rhein: He's hardly an unknown, as he's actually started in the NFL before. Whitaker has delivered big plays for Rhein all season.
Bryan Save, DT, Cologne: He made Pro Football Weekly's All-League Team in 2005, and though he's always going to be an injury worry, Save is the kind of active tackle that could suit a team needing a one-gap player inside.
Kevin Harrison, LB, Berlin: Best suited to play inside. He may be a little small at 6-foot and 245 pounds, but he's a hitter.
Earl Cochrane, DE, Amsterdam: In his second year with the Admirals, he's been steadily effective. Perhaps not explosive enough, but at 6-5 and 285, he could spark interest in a 3-4 defense.
Travis Harris, LB, Frankfurt: The Florida product led the Galaxy in tackles, which is what the system wants from its MLB. He's a bit undersized at 6-2 and 240, but he can make plays.
James Lee, DT, Amsterdam: Another guy with both NFL tape and some injury worries, but the 6-5, 325-pound Lee brings something to the table that can't be coached -- size. He could stir up interest for a team needing a two-gap space eater in the middle.
Terrence Robinson, LB, Rhein: Another two-year European player who's just a little small and slow by NFL standards, but has shown he can play enough to be valuable on the bench and special teams.
Derrick Strong, DE, Rhein: Strong is a pass-rush specialist who needs a little bit more explosiveness in his rush, but gave good effort, and in the right system could be useful.
Tyler Lenda, C/G, Amsterdam: A sentimental choice because he's played well at both positions over two seasons. He's always going to be small for an NFL line, but a zone-blocking team needing an overachiever that can back up at two spots might bring him to camp.
Noriaki Kinoshita, KR, Amsterdam: The Japanese product from that football powerhouse Ritsumeikan University would have a huge adjustment to make, but he's got the ability to make the first tackler miss and averaged 27.9 on kickoff returns and almost 15 yards on just a few punt returns.