If first-round picks serve as the foundation of a team's roster, undrafted free agents are the joists to provide a sturdy floor.
Every young man wants to hear his name called during the NFL draft, but a late-round draft selection isn't always in an individual's best interests. The previous statement may seem counterintuitive. However, undrafted free agents get to negotiate their deals and sign wherever they like, depending on available opportunities, of course.
A prospect and his representation can look at each suitor's projected depth chart to figure out where the best opportunities may lie. In doing so, the chances of making a roster increase. The numbers back up this approach.
More former undrafted players made NFL rosters at the start of last season than those selected in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds combined, per Spotrac's Michael Ginnitti.
An intersection of ability and opportunity indicates those undrafted individuals with the best chance of making their respective roster for the 2022 campaign.
Arizona Cardinals: CB Darrell Baker Jr.
Despite a continued need at cornerback, the Arizona Cardinals waited until the seventh round to address the position with the selection of Valdosta State's Christian Matthew.
However, his addition to the roster isn't enough. This comes a year after investing fourth- and sixth-round picks at the position. Furthermore, the latter selection, Tay Gowan, was included in the trade for veteran tight end Zach Ertz.
The Cardinals simply haven't emphasized cornerback despite playing in a pass-first league. The group boils down to Byron Murphy Jr., Marco Wilson and Jeff Gladney, the latter of whom recently returned to football after missing an entire season while facing charges of felony assault—a jury found him not guilty in March.
Darrell Baker Jr. has the maturity (sixth-year senior) and explosive athletic traits to make an instant impact as part of the rotation or on special teams. He's a 6'0" cornerback with 32-inch arms, a 4.39-second 40-yard-dash speed, a 41.5-inch vertical and an 11'4" broad jump, per the Shrine Bowl's Eric Galko.
Atlanta Falcons: WR Stanley Berryhill III
The Atlanta Falcons need bodies at wide receiver and everywhere else.
The organization drafted USC's Drake London with this year's eighth overall pick. Otherwise, Olamide Zaccheaus is the team's top returning wide receiver with 31 catches for 406 yards.
From there, the Falcons wide receiver depth chart consists of Auden Tate, Damiere Byrd, KhaDarel Hodge, Frank Darby, Chad Hansen, Austin Trammell and a few undrafted rookies.
Stanley Berryhill III has an upper hand among the undrafted options because he showed continued improvement at a Power Five school. Berryhill set career-highs in 2021 with 83 receptions for 744 yards.
Coaches also named him a first-team All-Pac-12 performer for his all-purpose/special teams contributions.
Berryhill brings excellent return skills with the ability to field punts and kicks. His 6.4 yards per carry also finished first among Wildcats with 15 or more carries last season. The wide receiver can contribute in different phases of the game, which makes him extremely valuable to a team that lacks weapons.