Thursday, May 2, 2013
AFC North's five undrafted rookies to watch
By Jamison Hensley
In addition to their draft picks, the AFC North teams added about 60 undrafted players this week. Some won't make it to training camp, and a majority won't last past the final cutdown. At first glance, there doesn't appear to be a Vontaze Burfict, who turned out to be the Bengals' leading tackler last season, in this year's group.
The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers start their three-day rookie minicamps on Friday, and the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals will hold theirs next weekend.
Here are my top five undrafted rookies to watch in the AFC North:
1. Matt Furstenburg, Ravens tight end: Athletic pass-catching tight end from Maryland who posted the second-fastest time for tight ends at the NFL combine. He lacks ideal height and saw his production drop (16 catches last season) as his college team went through six quarterbacks. Furstenburg was projected by some to go in the middle rounds.
2. Onterio McCalebb, Bengals cornerback: Former Auburn running back is making a position switch. But McCalebb is going to make the team based on his returner skills. He was the fastest man at the NFL scouting combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.27 seconds. The big question is whether he can hold up in the NFL considering his extremely frail build. McCalebb was considered a late-round pick.
3. Braxston Cave, Browns center: Experienced, thick-bodied anchor from Notre Dame who made 35 career starts. His stock dropped because of a poor performance at the Senior Bowl. There are also durability concerns after two of his seasons ended with injuries. Cave is a mauling run blocker who hoped to go as high as the fourth round.
4. Rogers Gaines, Ravens offensive tackle: Developmental left tackle project from Tennessee State has rare size (6-foot-6, 334 pounds) but just two years of starting experience at the small school level. He'll have to add muscle in the weight room and prove he can handle speed rushers in the NFL. What stands out about Gaines is his nasty streak and massive wingspan. There was a chance he could have gone as early as the fifth round.
5. Joe Madsen, Steelers center: The four-year starter from West Virginia has good size, awareness and quickness. The biggest knock on Madsen is he'll struggle at the point of attack. He has short arms but he'll need to get stronger. Madsen was considered a seventh-round pick.