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10 Best College Football Players Not Taken in the 2018 NFL Draft

Texas Longhorns CB Holton Hill

Texas Longhorns CB Holton Hill

While 256 college football players heard their names called during the 2018 NFL Draft, there were standouts who did not. However, that does not mean their NFL dreams are over and done with. Teams sign numerous undrafted free agents and there are more than enough examples of players who found NFL stardom through that path.

Virginia Cavaliers S Quin Blanding

Last year, Keenan Cole went from undrafted out of Division II Kentucky Wesleyan to leading the Jacksonville Jaguars in receiving yards (748), while Wisconsin’s Corey Clement cracked the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster and went for 100 receiving yards in their Super Bowl LII victory.

So who from the 2018 class will be the next to show that the draft isn’t the only route to the NFL? Here are 10 players (in alphabetical order) that went undrafted but could still wind up making an NFL roster.

Quin Blanding, S, Virginia

A three-time, first-team All-ACC honoree, Blanding (above, right) ranks first in school history and sixth in the ACC with 495 career tackles. Blanding has appealing size (6-2, 207) for his position, but his lack of speed and coverage limitations are things he must overcome if he wants to make an NFL roster.

Signed with: Washington Redskins

Desmond Harrison, OT, West Georgia

Harrison has the height (6-6) and length (34” arms) NFL teams look for, but his size (292 lbs.) is a concern. A bigger issue is his character. After starring at Contra Costa (Calif.) College for two years, Harrison transferred to Texas in 2013, but was suspended twice in ’14 and then spent the next two years out of football. He dominated at West Georgia last season, but it was against inferior competition and he’s about as raw as a prospect can get.
Signed with: Cleveland Browns

Holton Hill, CB, Texas

Hill was probably well on his way to establishing his draft stock as a junior last season before he was suspended in early November for violating team rules. This was after playing in just five games under former head coach Charlie Strong in 2016, reportedly due to off-the-field issues. Hill has the skill set that NFL teams look for it’s just a matter of whether he can prove he’s worth the potential risk.
Signed with: Minnesota Vikings

Jeff Holland, LB, Auburn

Holland earned first-team All-SEC honors last season after ranking third in the conference with 10 sacks to go along with four forced fumbles. He’s not an every-down NFL linebacker and could be a liability in coverage, but he has a knack for getting to the quarterback and is known for his physical, hard-nosed style.
Signed with: Denver Broncos

J.C. Jackson, CB, Maryland

Jackson started his college career at Florida but was injured in the 2014 season opener and dismissed in ’15 after he was charged with armed robbery. He was eventually cleared, but enrolled at Riverside City (Calif.) College before transferring to Maryland. An honorable mention All-Big Ten pick last season, Jackson is solid enough in coverage that he should have at least a puncher’s chance of making an NFL roster.
Signed with: New England Patriots

Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State

A two-time, first-team All-Big 12 pick, Lazard (right) graduated as the Cyclones’ career leader in both receptions and receiving yards. Lazard has good size (6-5, 227), strength and reliable hands, but he will need to make his mark as a possession receiver or a team may try and switch him to tight end because of a lack of speed and explosiveness.
Signed with: Jacksonville Jaguars

Iowa State Cyclones WR Allen Lazard

Hercules Mata'afa, DT, Washington State

A consensus All-American and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, Mata’afa was fourth in the nation with 22.5 tackles for a loss. Even though he was a defensive tackle in college, his size (6-2, 254) rules that out and he will have to prove to NFL teams he has enough strength and athleticism to make it work as an edge rusher or perhaps a special teams stalwart
Signed with: Minnesota Vikings

Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

After tying for the FBS lead with eight interceptions in 2016, McFadden’s draft stock was on the rise, but he wasn’t able to duplicate that success last season. The Scouting Combine reinforced concerns about his speed and athleticism, but he has enough size (6-2, 204), length and ball skills to merit a shot at making an NFL roster.
Signed with: San Francisco 49ers

Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana

A four-year starter at Indiana, Scales made a habit of making plays even though he was a bit undersized. He led the nation with 23.5 tackles for a loss in 2016 and was a first-team All-Big Ten honoree by the media as a senior. His playmaking ability and football IQ are appreciated, but he must overcome a lack of size (6-0, 230) and speed and will probably need to make his mark on special teams to stick with an NFL team.
Signed with: Los Angeles Rams

Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia

One of the nation’s top recruits across the board coming of out of high school, Thompson never put it all together in his three seasons at Georgia. He had injury issues throughout his Bulldogs career and one well-documented off-field incident, so first and foremost, Thompson must show an NFL team that he can stay healthy and not be any sort of distraction. He has enough size (6-3, 288) and athleticism that he could develop into a serviceable defensive tackle in the right system.
Signed with: Cleveland Browns