- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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In April of 2010, Sam Shields was an undrafted free agent. In February of 2011, he was helping the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl. It can happen. Players who were overlooked in the NFL draft in April can become significant contributors in spite of their snubs. This year's crop of undrafted free agents has had a rough summer, as they weren't allowed to sign with teams because of the lockout.
Assuming the lockout ends in the coming days, teams will soon be allowed to sign undrafted free agents. So here's a look at a few who might make sense for the teams in the NFC East. Obviously, some of these guys would work for multiple teams, but I'll trust you guys to make those leaps on your own. For fairness' sake, each team gets three. Enjoy:
1. Joe Lefeged, Rutgers safety. He plays the Cowboys' biggest "need" position, and while he's not likely to be a starter right away, he could help in sub packages and on special teams while he's groomed for a starter's role. The Cowboys need at least one starter, and will need two if Gerald Sensabaugh leaves. Depth at the position would be a good thing.
2. DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson safety. Doesn't have Lefeged's speed, but he's got enough size to make a contribution in a backup role. Pre-draft scouting reports liked his instincts at the position.
3. Kai Forbath, UCLA kicker. I don't think they'll do it, but I'm not convinced David Buehler won't cost the Cowboys a critical game at some point. Forbath would provide another option or at least maybe some competition that spurs Buehler to be better.
1. Cedric Thornton, Southern Arkansas DT. They've spent second-round picks on interior defensive linemen in each of the past two drafts, but with Barry Cofield likely on his way out, they could look to deepen their talent pool there.
2. Mark Herzlich, Boston College LB. Could be one of the great comeback stories. He was an elite defensive player in 2008, then spent 2009 fighting cancer and struggled to regain his old form in 2010. If he's on his way back to full health and strength (or there already), someone's going to get a steal.
3. Nick Bellore, Michigan LB. Scouts liked his makeup as a potential middle linebacker in a 4-3. The Giants aren't exactly overloaded with such guys.
1. Kendrick Burney, North Carolina CB. They'll aim higher, obviously, for the starting corner they need to play opposite Asante Samuel. But the undersized Burney could be a nice fit if the Eagles are transitioning to more of a Cover-2 scheme, as many believe they are.
2. Zach Hurd, Connecticut guard. Drafting Danny Watkins in the first round gave the Eagles the starter they needed at right guard, but that doesn't mean they couldn't stand to add more depth at the offensive line spots. Same could be said for the Giants, incidentally.
3. Will Hill, Florida safety. They're planning to let Quintin Mikell go and can't be sure about Nate Allen's health or Jaiquawn Jarrett's readiness. Yes, Kurt Coleman and Marlin Jackson are intriguing options, but Hill has enough upside to warrant a look at a position where the Eagles might not have enough depth.
1. Darvin Adams, Auburn WR. They used a couple of draft picks on receivers, but it's not as if they can be sure they have their answers there yet. Especially if Santana Moss signs elsewhere, the Redskins could use someone of Adams' pedigree as they sort out their reserve receiver spots.
2. Ian Williams, Notre Dame DT. Not sure if he's big enough to play nose tackle in the NFL, but he's seen as a versatile defensive lineman who could help against the run.
3. Willie Smith, East Carolina OT. He's got the size of an NFL tackle but needs to develop. As they continue to figure out the configuration of their offensive line of the future, the Redskins could work with someone of Smith's raw ability.
In April of 2010, Sam Shields was an undrafted free agent. In February of 2011, he was helping the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl. It can happen.