One of the things that gets lost in the NFL Draft is what happens in the minute’s right after the final pick is made. Remember that the draft used to be 12 rounds, so there is still a lot of talent remaining and the Denver Broncos are proof of that. They have a long history of at least one college free agent making their final roster.
The last two years alone have netted the Broncos two college free agents, Chris Harris in 2011 and Steven Johnson last year. Johnson is expected to compete for the starting job at middle linebacker in 2013 and Harris is now considered the best, or one of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL.
Following last weekend’s draft, the Broncos signed 17 college free agents and it’s very likely that at least one of them will be on the roster when the Broncos host the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 5. We’ll have to wait to see who that player is, but the smart money might be on linebacker, Lerentee McCray.
McCray is a linebacker out of the University of Florida and the position is the first thing that gives him a chance at making the roster. The Broncos addressed many areas through free agency and the draft, but they did not draft a linebacker and are in need of some depth at that spot.
The Broncos gave McCray a $17,000 signing bonus which is a big number for a college free agent, indicating that the Broncos really liked and wanted the linebacker. Last, but certainly not least is the fact the McCray has a lot of talent and would have probably been a mid-round selection had it not been for a series of injuries.
The injury factor is the only real concern with McCray because he has everything else a team would look for in a linebacker. When healthy, McCray is a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. He rushes the quarterback on passing downs and is very effective at stopping the run. McCray is fast enough to cover slot receivers from time to time and understands how to play zone defenses as well.
Some players drop completely out of the draft due to work ethic, off the field concerns or character questions. That is not the case with McCray, he has a motor that won’t stop on the field and is a stand up guy off of it. The only reason for McCray not being selected in the middle rounds was his injury history.
If McCray can finally overcome the injury issue, then the Broncos have come up with yet another gem in the college free agent pool. When training camp begins and everyone is watching the rookies, don’t forget about McCray. He could be the next college free agent to make an impact for the Broncos.
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