AFC West: John Wetzel

Chase Thomas was considered a top undrafted free agent when he signed with the New Orleans Saints.

However, Thomas didn’t catch on with the Saints and was an early cut. Now, he will get another NFL chance in a familiar spot. The Oakland Raiders have claimed the Stanford product off waivers.

Thomas will be reunited with Oakland defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, who coached Thomas in 2011 at Stanford.

The Raiders are giving Thomas a chance partly because they have injuries at the position. I think he could be a potential practice squad player. Oakland waived injured offensive lineman John Wetzel to make room for Thomas.

Meanwhile, Oakland rookie tackle Menelik Watson may practice Wednesday. He has been out virtually all of training camp with a calf injury. The second-round pick could eventually be in the mix at left tackle. Right tackle Khalif Barnes is also a possibility at left tackle with Watson playing right tackle. The Raiders are trying to figure out a solution with standout left tackle Jared Veldheer out for about three months with a triceps injury.

The Raiders believe defensive end Lamarr Houston will play against Chicago on Friday. Defensive tackles Pat Sims and Vance Walker both returned to practice this week and are question marks to play.

In other AFC West notes:

The Chiefs claimed guard Ricky Henry off waivers from New Orleans.

Houston defensive end Antonio Smith has been suspended for the Week 1 “Monday Night Football” game at San Diego.

Miami cut cornerback Richard Marshall. He should be popular on the open market. San Diego is one of the teams in the league that are thin at cornerback. Plus, new San Diego coach Mike McCoy was in Carolina with Marshall. Thus, there could potentially be interest.

 

 

Ranking the AFC West UFAs

May, 3, 2013
5/03/13
8:00
AM ET
I asked Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. to rank the top 10 undrafted free agent signings in the AFC West this week. This is what Muench had to say:

1. Tennessee QB Tyler Bray, Kansas City

Whether or not Bray can improve the way he prepares and puts in the necessary work to realize his considerable potential remains to be seen. There is no question he has the frame, arm strength and accuracy to develop into an NFL starter.

2. Georgia NT Kwame Geathers, San Diego

At 6-foot-5 and 342 pounds, Geathers is a mountain of a man with the size and lower-body strength to hold his ground against double teams and clog up the middle when he keeps his pads down. However, he struggles to stay low, and doesn’t offer much as a pass-rusher, either.

3. Louisville DB Adrian Bushell, Oakland

Bushell bounced around a little bit in college, enrolling at Florida in 2009, transferring to a community college in 2010 and then to Louisville in 2011. He doesn’t have great burst, he’s on the smaller side and he’s not a playmaker, but is fluid and anticipates breaks well. He could also push for time as a kickoff-return man.

4. Florida DE/OLB Lerentee McCray, Denver

McCray doesn’t show great top-end speed on tape and his lengthy injury history raises a red flag. His durability is the bigger issue because he has the skill set to contribute as a role player if he can stay healthy. He is an effective hand fighter whether he’s rushing the passer or defending the run, and he has an above-average motor.

5. Duke WR Conner Vernon, Oakland

Vernon isn’t much of a big-play threat. He doesn’t have enough speed to stretch the field or run away from pursuit after the catch. The strength of his game is his willingness to do the dirty work over the middle. He doesn’t take his eyes off the ball to locate defenders and he is aggressive fighting for 50-50 balls in traffic.

6. Boston College OT John Wetzel, Oakland

Wetzel isn’t as naturally gifted or as fundamentally sound as some of the other offensive linemen that Boston College has produced over the years. He does have the frame, length and awareness to be an effective swing tackle who can provide depth on the right and left side.

7. Kansas S Bradley McDougald, Kansas City

McDougald is a jack of all trades who played wide receiver and safety in addition to returning kicks his first two seasons at Kansas. It should come as little surprise that he fields the ball well for a safety but his marginal top-end speed is an issue. He isn’t fast enough to match up with slot receivers in man coverage and shows just adequate range covering the deep half of the field.

8. New Mexico TE Lucas Reed, Denver

Reed, the younger brother of Houston OLB Brooks Reed, isn’t a physical player. He needs to develop an edge as a run-blocker and improve his ability to make plays in traffic over the middle. On the other hand, he’s fast enough to work the seam and has a big catching radius. He has 10.5-inch hands, 35.5-inch arms and a 37-inch vertical.

9. Virginia Tech OT Nick Becton, San Diego

A one-year starter, Becton doesn’t have great foot speed and needs to learn to sink his hips both as a run-blocker and in pass protection. He is an intriguing addition because he has the frame, length and enough of a mean streak to develop into an effective backup who can provide depth at right tackle and guard.

10. Youngstown State OG Lamar Mady, Oakland

There are concerns about Mady’s ability to make the jump to the NFL. He is a small-school prospect who doesn’t have the frame to carry a lot of weight and doesn’t move well laterally. He’s still worth giving a shot in training camp because he’s a wide body who can play center and guard.

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